But Berger Montague successfully tackled this endeavor, completely streamlining its legal e-discovery processes between March and October 2020. Today, more than 100 of the firm’s internal team members and numerous attorneys at 25 co-counsel and partner counsel firms use the new e-discovery system to serve vital client litigation needs.
Before the transition, the firm used its own product to house most of the ESI reviewed and produced in connection with its cases. The rest of the litigation materials were hosted on various other e-discovery platforms. This structure became outmoded, especially as it was incompatible with what co-counsel and others in the industry were using.
That said, it’s a major transformative process to move a massive amount of firm data from proprietary and disparate systems to a new single system. Not only can it be costly, but there are also concerns about liability, potential loss of data, inability to access data during in the conversion process, time investment, and potential resistance to change from users. It can also be challenging with team members working from home offices for the first time in their careers, which adds another layer of complexity.
When starting your extensive search, it’s imperative to look for a product that meets both the firm’s and co-counsel’s exacting requirements for security, cost, standardization and quality. Search for a solution that can house the majority of the firm’s ESI in a single space and, most importantly, a system that provides the security the firm needs to ensure client data and other sensitive information stays confidential and secure.
Here are some things we learned along the way:
- Assemble the right team. You and your co-counsel will still need access to materials on your existing system to litigate cases while converting to the new one, so make sure you choose team members who can rebuild and refuel the airplane while you’re flying it. For us, that included a dedicated project manager to guide the implementation process.
- Shore up support. Appoint and train team member advocates to educate your internal team — as well as co-counsel and partner counsel — on the value of the new system and how to use it effectively. Appoint knowledgeable team member advocates for both the conversion and the implementation of the new product to help train users. Also, employ experienced training consultants.
- Planning and commitment are key. The change associated with this type of complete digital overhaul can be overwhelming at any time. But rolling out the implementation during the pandemic was doubly difficult — users were already inundated with pandemic-induced changes. The real lesson is that there are always reasons not to make a change, including the ongoing rush of business and fear of the unknown. The remedy is to do as much planning in advance as possible and to make a commitment to change.
“Putting best practices into place with this new system allows us to consolidate, access and review information in a more organized way.”
- Meet users where they are. Everyone acclimates and embraces new technology at their own pace. Consider offering multiple training sessions tailored to specific comfort and ability levels with the new system to ensure education effectively meets user need and encourages adoption.
- Contract where you can. During the implementation, you may need an e-discovery manager to handle the systems daily. Ultimately, you can negotiate a contract with your vendor to serve that function for your firm, rather than trying to hire for those services on your own.
- Check in regularly. Keep in mind that a digital transformation of a vital service is an ongoing process. Check in with users often, offer refresher training, watch for patterns in user concerns and requests, and make updates as needed. A digital transformation is a living process that should evolve and grow along with your business needs.
Taking on such an intricate process may seem formidable at first, but don’t let the size or presumed difficulty of the project dissuade you from engaging in or implementing it. In the end, Berger Montague’s new e-discovery system has increased staff’s mindfulness about how to handle electronic data most effectively. It’s also raised awareness of the protocols for and downstream effects of each action they take as it relates to the storage, access to and security for this information.
But the biggest benefit is increased efficiency. Everything is faster and more streamlined. Putting best practices into place with this new system has allowed us to consolidate, access and review information in a more organized way. It saves both time and money, which ultimately helps serve clients better.