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HP Tackles Unpredictable Litigation Costs with User-Friendly Technology

by Petra Pasternak

Palo Alto-based HP Inc. – an innovator in personal computing, 3D printing, and gaming – has 58,000 employees across 170 countries and more than $50 billion in annual revenue. 

At that scale, when litigation arises, discovery budgets and workflows can run amok. Challenges like these spurred HP's legal team to search for a new approach to its litigation and investigation workflows.

The key was to get ahead of spiraling litigation costs, HP’s Associate General Counsel Thane Vallette said, fueled in no small part by the explosion of data that virtually every in-house legal team is facing today.

“Managing cases to an accurate budget is becoming more and more paramount,” Vallette said. “We really need to give financial transparency to our colleagues throughout the business.” 

The technology his in-house team uses had to be a part of that solution. 

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Meeting Business Expectations Through Standardized Ediscovery

HP adopted Everlaw last year after a long, rigorous vetting process. 

The company handles a broad mix of matters, from IP litigation and employment cases to general commercial litigation and contract disputes. While grappling with the ever increasing complexity of matters due to the sheer volume of data choking the discovery process, Vallette's team is under pressure to work effectively within lean budget expectations. 

He was not only looking to do more with less, but aiming to do it predictably. 

“The biggest challenge would be surprise costs that we're not anticipating that would pop up either within the middle of a month or the middle of a quarter,” Vallette said. “We've gone out and tried to locate solutions that are going to give us consistency across the board when it comes to our ediscovery expenses so we don't have those surprises.”

Litigation is notoriously difficult to predict, and explaining the swings in expenses that are typical throughout discovery to stakeholders across the organization can be complicated.

Vallette is among a growing number of corporate law department leaders who see the value of bringing ediscovery technology in-house to reduce costs and consolidate disparate workflows and tools – and in the process introduce more predictability.

Bringing all its internal and external partners into a single unified platform managed internally lets HP’s in-house legal team work more strategically and manage expenses more effectively.

With Everlaw, outside counsel work progress and hours billed show in real time — visibility that gives the legal team greater control over strategy, direction, and costs. 

Curbing Big Data Costs with Faster Time to Insight

Vallette said some of the highest ediscovery expenses have come through data hosting, processing, document review, and project management hours. Driving this are the usual suspects: ballooning data volumes from the daily digital collaboration and communication among tens of thousands of employees.

“We've really gone out and tried to tackle and address that particular category of ediscovery expense," Vallette said.

HP’s average case ranges from 100 gigabytes of data on the low end to more than 10 terabytes on the high end. “We’re seeing data volumes continuing to grow at a rapid pace for all matters that we're dealing with,” Vallette said. An extra challenge, he added, is handling the growing amount of data that needs to be collected from instant messaging platforms.

Getting the right solution in place helps HP deal with the explosion of data the company is experiencing. 

“We think that Everlaw can help us tackle that obstacle with its processing speed and increase the speed that our reviewers can then get through the documents.”

Fostering Effective Collaboration With an Intuitive Solution

Collaboration with key stakeholders across the company and with external partners is important to his team’s strategy, Vallette said, and technology plays a key role in facilitating close working relationships.

HP’s in-house legal team must be in constant communication with HR, IT, and other departments about what needs to be done to identify, preserve, and collect data. With intuitive user interfaces and powerful analytics and automation, Everlaw is designed for non-technical teams.

“A lot of what we do is going out on the left hand side of the EDRM and identifying, preserving, and collecting data,” Vallette said. “Having good working relationships with IT, with HR, and a variety of the other business units that we're out there supporting is really paramount work.”

The HP in-house law department also works closely on litigation matters with the investigations team and outside counsel and other vendors. 

“I personally like the ease of use of the platform and how well I think it works with a variety of different teams who are going to need to be in there analyzing and touching the data,” Vallette said. 

With secure access permissions settings, Vallette can invite not only internal teams to work together in real time, but also outside counsel and other partners while maintaining control and transparency. 

Controlling Data and Budgets with Modern Features

In addition to empowering effective collaboration with a diverse set of partners, Vallette said he needed other features to support his team’s goals of better control and predictability. The right technology would have the processing speeds and early case assessment capabilities that would enable faster speed of review.

With industry-leading data processing speeds of up to 900,000 docs/hour and ECA capability that lets users on average remove 76% of documents before active review, Everlaw sets teams like HP’s up for a significant boost in efficiency and savings on the amount of time lawyers need to spend on document review. 

“We intend to use Everlaw as a primary document review platform for a variety of different matters whenever we can,” Vallette said.

Preparing for the Future with Confidence

As Vallette continues to outfit his team with capabilities that speed up work on legal matters, he’s paying close attention to the potential of AI to help save time and increase efficiency. 

He said he expects a continued push for leveraging AI in all areas of the ediscovery process, from ECA and early identification of hot documents, all the way through document and privileged review. The benefits will come in the form of a better understanding of potential risk and cost profiles in litigation. 

“We're excited about the possibility of how it can continue to go out there and identify hot or important documents at the beginning of a case,” he said. “We're also excited to see how AI can continue to push the cost curve down when it comes to reviewing large volumes of documents.” 

By embracing an advanced discovery technology today, HP’s legal professionals are setting themselves up for greater success through a new holistic approach to litigation and investigations – with more control over their own time and resources and ability to adapt for future challenges. 

To learn how others in the legal industry are handling the toughest litigation and investigations challenges, check out our customer success stories.