Corporate Counsel Identify a Significant Need for Improvement When Evaluating E-Discovery Effectiveness

September 2014

Aven James
Bliss Integrated Communication
(212) 840-1661
aven@blissintegrated.com

NEW YORK - Corporate counsel report substantial room for improvement when it comes to handling and managing e-discovery, giving internal and external resources a grade of 6.5 out of 10 for overall effectiveness, according to the inaugural Inside E-Discovery Survey by BDO Consulting, a leading provider of Financial Advisory, Business Advisory and Technology Services worldwide.

When asked to identify the critical factors impacting their e-discovery process, the largest percentage of in-house legal professionals (48.4 percent) rank understanding the universe of potentially responsive evidence early in the case as the most important, followed by predicting the total cost of e-discovery (15.6 percent) and reducing e-discovery review fees (14.1 percent). Another 12.5 percent report the ability to use previously collected and processed electronically stored information (ESI) for other matters as the most important factor, pointing to a desire among corporate counsel to achieve efficiencies by reusing prior work product.

"Big Data poses a significant challenge for organizations when it comes to managing e-discovery," said Stephanie Giammarco, Partner and Forensic Technology Services practice leader with BDO Consulting. "As the volume and variety of electronically stored information increases, it becomes more difficult and more costly to identify potentially responsive evidence. Corporate counsel are looking for ways to decrease data volumes, increase efficiencies and reduce costs to adjust to this Big Data landscape."

To respond to the increasing demands of e-discovery, 31.4 percent of in-house legal professionals report implementing new guidelines or policies within the past year to streamline and improve their response to litigation. One in four (25.5 percent) say they have adopted tools and technologies, while 15.7 percent say they have hired an outside vendor.

Managing Mobile & Social Networking Data and Cost Control Identified as Key E-Discovery Challenges

When asked about key forward-looking challenges with regards to e-discovery management, the largest percentage of in-house counsel (22.5 percent) say managing mobile and social networking data is the number one issue they will face in the near future, followed by cost control (17.5 percent), new regulations (15 percent) and automating processes (12.5 percent).

"With the rise of mobile devices and use of social sites in the workplace, corporations must consider the nuances of preserving, extracting and analyzing new and emerging types of electronically stored information," said BDO’s UK Forensic Technology Services Practice Leader William Wilkinson. "The policies and protocols established by organizations and their legal counsel today to preserve and collect mobile or social electronic evidence will be critical in litigation and investigations moving forward."

New Tools & Technologies Provide Significant Opportunity to Shape the Future of E-Discovery

Even though roughly one-quarter (25.5 percent) of corporate counsel have started using tools and technologies related to e-discovery in the past year, few feel they are ahead of the curve. In fact, only 5.4 percent identify their organization as an "early adopter" when it comes to its willingness to adopt new tools and technologies. Correspondingly, only 17.6 percent of in-house counsel currently use customized customer portals to view and track project statistics and only 16.2 percent use data visualization techniques to assist in priority processing or review.

"While many companies are using technology to identify and collect potentially responsive information, the full potential of new and emerging tools is not yet being realized," said Karen Schuler, Managing Director in BDO Consulting’s Forensic Technology Services practice. "We expect the next few years will show further adoption of advanced tools and techniques, such as computer assisted review, data analytics and data visualization, which will not only reduce e-discovery costs, but increase efficiency and better inform litigation and investigative strategies, as well as information governance policies and procedures."

Other major findings from the Inside E-Discovery Survey by BDO Consulting include:

  • "Data privacy and security laws" rank as the greatest cross-border e-discovery challenge with 66.7 percent of corporate counsel ranking this as the greatest challenge they face when managing cross-border e-discovery.
    "Multinational, multi-jurisdictional and multi-lingual data collection and review are becoming increasingly complex," said Glenn Pomerantz, Partner and Global Forensics practice leader with BDO Consulting. "Corporations must understand cultural norms, data privacy laws and foreign language nuances to effectively navigate international investigations and manage e-discovery engagements."
  • E-discovery spending is expected to rise with 43.2 percent of corporate counsel predicting e-discovery spend will increase within the next year, while a mere 6.2 percent expect it to decrease.
  • Corporate counsel look for quality at the right cost when selecting e-discovery providers with 47.6 percent ranking quality as the most important factor, followed by 23.8 percent ranking cost as most important.

"Quality is paramount in e-discovery, and we know that in-house counsel are focused on mitigating the risks and costs associated with not getting it 'right'," added Giammarco. "As the sector evolves, corporations continue to seek out providers that they trust to deliver comprehensive, defensible and reliable e-discovery services."

The Inside E-Discovery Survey by BDO Consulting is a national survey conducted by BTI Consulting Group, an independent and impartial research firm. BTI surveyed 100 senior in-house counsel at leading corporations throughout the U.S. to collect their insights for BDO Consulting's inaugural study.

About BDO Consulting
BDO Consulting, a division of BDO USA, LLP, provides clients with Financial Advisory, Business Advisory and Technology Services in the U.S. and around the world, leveraging BDO’s global network of over 55,000 professionals. Having a depth of industry expertise, we provide rapid, strategic guidance in the most challenging of environments to achieve exceptional client service. For more information, please visit www.bdoconsulting.com.

About BDO
BDO is the brand name for BDO USA, LLP, a U.S. professional services firm providing assurance, tax, financial advisory and consulting services to a wide range of publicly traded and privately held companies. For more than 100 years, BDO has provided quality service through the active involvement of experienced and committed professionals. The firm serves clients through 52 offices and more than 400 independent alliance firm locations nationwide. As an independent Member Firm of BDO International Limited, BDO serves multi-national clients through a global network of 1,264 offices in 144 countries.

BDO USA, LLP, a Delaware limited liability partnership, is the U.S. member of BDO International Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, and forms part of the international BDO network of independent member firms. BDO is the brand name for the BDO network and for each of the BDO Member Firms. For more information, please visit www.bdo.com.