Warner Norcross + Judd is the first and only law firm in Michigan to provide an integrated team approach to full life-cycle support for business data. We help companies proactively manage their data and reduce expensive eDiscovery costs by leveraging technology. Our Data Analytics and eDiscovery Practice Group includes more than 30 experience attorneys, records management specialists, data and information technology specialists and paralegals with extensive experience.
We are committed to being a leader in the application of advanced technological solutions to reduce costs and improve efficiency in the delivery of legal services. One of the areas in which we are most committed to leveraging technology is the smart use of predictive coding, or technology-assisted review (TAR), and other emerging technologies in the area of data analytics. We have successfully used predictive coding on numerous occasions to dramatically reduce costs. Historically, law firms relied heavily on large groups of reviewers, often junior associates, to conduct page-by-page manual reviews of all documents collected in discovery. With increasingly large, complex and diverse data sets, we often recommend utilizing predictive coding as a component of the review process to achieve the most reliable and cost-effective result.
At its essence, predictive coding is a process in which computer software is used to enable review of a large set of documents based on decisions made by a human reviewer or reviewing group with respect to a smaller representative sample of documents. The coding information learned in reviewing the sample set is then applied to the remaining universe of documents. The cost-savings benefit of predictive coding comes from the dramatic reduction in the number of documents that need to be reviewed. Because the cost of reviewing documents is typically the largest component of litigation costs, these savings can be substantial. Empirical studies have confirmed the reliability of predictive coding and courts have approved its use in civil litigation.
In addition to reducing costs, there can be other benefits to using predictive coding. These include enhancing control of the review process, increasing and consolidating substantive knowledge gained from the review among the litigation group, and reducing the risks of leaked information and documents.
For example, we recently utilized predictive coding on a project where our client had collected almost 250,000 potentially relevant documents. By using predictive coding we were able to reduce by 80% the number of documents requiring manual review, which substantially reduced the cost of the review and ensured that production was completed within a compressed timeframe.
Data Collection, Processing and Hosting
We are a tech-savvy firm which has the in-house software tools and trained staff members to collect, process and host discovery data for virtually any case. For example, we have the ability to quickly and cost effectively create an inventory of data collected from clients or received from opposing counsel, load the data into a database for searching and analysis, provide database access to our clients and/or co-counsel and create binders of data that can be viewed on a laptop or tablets.
However, when it is more efficient and cost effective to use outside vendors, we help our clients make an appropriate choice. We have pricing agreements in place with select vendors and have successfully leveraged our firm’s size and litigation caseload to negotiate competitive pricing for data collection, processing and hosting. We also work closely with specialized vendors in those situations where a forensic collection is recommended.
Discovery Planning and Budgets
Effective planning and budgeting are key components of the discovery process. We work with clients to estimate project costs and develop proactive case strategies. Our goal is to satisfy all document preservation and production obligations without imposing an undue burden on our clients. An eDiscovery project manager is often assigned to facilitate cost-effective strategies and communicate with our clients' in-house counsel and information technology professionals.
Our ability to access and use the latest technologies and leverage staff and contract attorneys in a state-of-the-art discovery facility gives us a competitive advantage in tackling burdensome data review projects in class action and other complex litigation.
In light of the numerous technology and staffing options that are now available to reduce discovery costs and risks, businesses find our 20+ years of project management experience and skills to be an increasingly invaluable component of their discovery compliance efforts. Project management will often include an early case assessment, development of a data preservation plan and budget, strategies for leveraging data analytics and staffing options, development of a data review protocol, training of group members, and agreement on the appropriate levels of quality assurance and status reporting.
Timely updates and reports are also an essential component of project management, especially when multiple in-house and/or lead trial counsels are involved. We utilize proprietary software that offers a web-based dashboard with advanced metrics for each project. Examples:
Discovery Coordination Counsel
- We served as a Special Assistant Attorney General in a federal civil rights action and designed, implemented and defended a discovery plan that involved the collection of over one million pages from multiple locations.
- In price-fixing class actions in 15 states, we developed a litigation and discovery management system for 6,900 plaintiffs, 100 complaints and more than one million discovery documents.
- For an international manufacturer, we serve as national discovery counsel and have developed a repeatable, cost-effective and defensible process for timely and accurate discovery compliance throughout the United States.
When faced with complex or multi-state litigation involving several lead trial counsels in different jurisdictions, we have the experience and structure to provide discovery coordination that suits clients' needs.
We work with clients and utilize project management software to build an online file cabinet of pleadings, standard discovery responses, transcripts, exhibits and research memos. Issues and discovery often overlap from one case to the next and our familiarity with our client allows us to locate and produce the relevant discovery with consistency (be it production or objection) and lower cost. Our knowledge of a client’s business also enhances our ability to protect confidential and/or privileged information with a consistent and effective methodology. Whether it is because they understand the evidence sooner or because of their ability to avoid discovery pitfalls, our clients and their trial counsel have a competitive edge throughout the litigation when we serve as discovery coordination counsel.
Discovery Motions and Depositions
The litigation attorneys in our Data Solutions Group regularly brief and argue discovery issues in state and federal courts, including motions for protective orders, to quash subpoenas, for sanctions, for cost-shifting and to compel access to organizational databases and personal and/or home computers. We have substantial experience litigating other discovery issues, including relevance of data analytics to a particular matter, temporal and custodian limitations, and the use of sneak peek or clawback agreements. We have also deposed and cross-examined corporate IT Directors and forensic computer experts.
Managed Data Review and Production
We operate a state-of-the-art discovery facility that is staffed by more than 10 full-time, experienced eDiscovery project managers and staff attorneys. Our group follows well-established protocols and practices in all aspects of data review and production, including the critical area of quality control. Moreover, our project management and review group members are fully integrated with the client’s trial team and in-house counsel via regular video conference calls and a web-based dashboard with advanced metrics for each project.
In some instances, due to the integration of predictive coding and other forms of advanced data analytics, the most cost-effective and efficient review strategy may in fact be review by a single subject-matter expert or small group of partners, senior associates or client personnel. Even when using predictive coding, however, there may be some categories of documents best suited to review by staff and/or contract attorneys. We offer the full range of staffing options to make sure that optimum efficiency and cost savings are achieved, consistent with the overall project objectives.