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Coalfire’s In-House Legal Takes Control With a Modern Discovery Solution

by Petra Pasternak

A third-party subpoena should not create a fire drill for legal professionals. Malaika Roemer figured out how to make sure of it.

As principal paralegal at cybersecurity services firm Coalfire Systems, Inc., Roemer used to find responding to subpoena requests to be a cumbersome process in which she had little agency. For one thing, her team had to rely on a system owned by the IT department, which meant extra steps and people involved that complicated workflows and delayed response. And many facets were ad hoc and manual – including legal holds.

“It took more time because we had to get other people to assist us, which wasn’t a good use of our time or theirs,” Roemer says. “Legal wanted something that we could control.”

Roemer says that since Coalfire partnered with Everlaw, she’s been able to work with more autonomy, flexibility, and command over her own schedule. And the benefits extend to the entire organization in terms of speed of delivery and money saved, she adds. 

“Our chief legal officer is very forward-looking about utilizing technology,” Roemer says. “She wants to make our team more effective and faster and reduce the administrative workload so we can really focus on the important, higher risk items on our plate.”

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Coalfire Paralegal Malaika Roemer

Manual and Ad Hoc Discovery Leads to Delays and Extra Costs

Third-party subpoena requests – whether for documents or for testimony – typically land out of the blue and require corporate in-house teams to drop everything to prepare a response. 

Without modern tools that are easy to use, weeks can be lost scouring various data repositories, gathering and processing relevant information from enormous data sets, and relying on costly law firms or professional services providers for help.

Before Everlaw, Roemer had to work directly with the employees or managers at Coalfire who owned the relevant data or were otherwise connected to the information. The team used disparate tools to store and sift through the documents and outsourced the bulk of discovery to external partners.

“A lot of people were storing documents in Box, or moving them around from restricted systems for us to have access,” Roemer said. “We relied heavily on outside counsel to help with the production part.” 

The legal team was looking for a platform that they could own and access directly.

Leveraging Technology for Speed and Savings

Coalfire’s long-term goal was to bring more work in-house. For discovery, this now involves handling more pre-litigation internally aided by technology and sending only the most germane files to outside counsel for validation. The strategy saves time and money. 

For example, by handling a recent subpoena request within Everlaw, Roemer was able to upload documents using cloud connector technology – a step that took a few clicks rather than a few days. 

Instead of relying on law firms to handle all the rest, including processing, review, and production, Roemer handled it quickly in-house and shared a download link of pre-culled data with outside counsel. 

In Everlaw, ECA users reduce the number of documents requiring active review by 75% on average

“I was able to produce the documents faster than I would have on my own,” Roemer said, “and obviously at less cost than having outside counsel do it for us.”

Legal holds are another area where Coalfire’s team has reaped the benefits of powerful technology in a centralized hub. With functionality that lets users issue holds through a few clicks and follow up with automated reminders, Roemer has been able to move away from the emails and spreadsheets she used previously.

“I love the automation,” Roemer said, including the legal holds templates, directories, and tracking capabilities. “It takes a lot off of my plate of having to manage or manually keep track of multiple items in a spreadsheet.”

Now that all discovery processes are folded into a single platform, Roemer and her colleagues can go into the system at any time and update legal holds without needing to rely on other tools or teams. 

Roemer said that when she needed to add another custodian to an existing legal hold, for example, she was able to do so in a few minutes. 

“I didn't have to open an IT ticket. I didn't need to get approval from someone else,” she said. “I want to be able to do it when I have time and not have to fit someone else's schedule.”

The right tool makes a huge difference in the race to track down key information and produce it on a tight turnaround. Since it brought Everlaw in-house, Coalfire’s team has gained direct access to the data and command over the process for ingesting, processing, and analyzing it – from legal holds through production.  

And though a new technology required Roemer to pick up new skills in the hustle of busy days, she granted herself the space for the stretch. 

“I had to take a step back and realize that I'm not just learning a tool, I'm learning a new skill set when it comes to litigation,” Roemer said. “I had to do some additional research on my own to make sure I understood what everything meant and then also get help.” 

For that help she leaned on Everlaw’s support team. “I can't believe how fast they respond whenever I open a ticket,” Roemer said. “And they constantly check in, too.”  

It was an investment Coalfire needed to make to remain competitive: “You have to keep changing and moving and keeping up with the rest of the business environment.”

Download your free copy of the guide: "Taking Charge: The Time to Transform Ediscovery Is Now" to learn more about the advantages that companies like Coalfire see from bringing discovery in-house.