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Why CLOs Are Centralizing Discovery In-House

by Petra Pasternak

Facing serious challenges, corporate legal teams are at a crossroads.

Budgets are getting tighter even as outside counsel fees keep climbing. Legal and regulatory work is more complex than ever. And the amount of data in-house legal professionals have to sort through for litigation and investigations boggles the mind. 

With legacy ediscovery methods, staying ahead of growing demand is impossible.

Corporate law departments can continue to rely on too many expensive external partners, outdated tools and workflows, leaving their teams trapped in silos that increase risk and slow things down. Or they can innovate to stay ahead. 

Savvy in-house leaders are choosing a new approach: they are bringing oversight of discovery in-house, consolidating litigation and other data-intensive matters, and overseeing the work – from the first legal hold through matter resolution – from a single central hub. 

This modern approach gives in-house leaders unprecedented insight and leverage to control exploding data, rein in runaway costs, mitigate security risks, and to actually meet the challenge of doing more with less.

Take Control by Consolidating Discovery Workflows 

Today’s in-house legal teams are under more pressure than ever to deliver more (and better) with flat (or shrinking) resources. The traditional approach, with too many middle men, convoluted processes, and unsuitable tools, is not sustainable anymore. 

Working with speed and accuracy simply aren’t possible when being forced to:

  • Rely on IT to collect data, causing overcollection and delays. 

  • Manage legal holds using spreadsheets, which is unscalable and introduces mistakes. 

  • Outsource the lion’s share of discovery work, clouding visibility into progress and quality. 

Today, putting the right teams, tools, and processes in place is a must. Having already made strides in modernizing key areas such as ebilling and CLM, in-house teams are actually in a better position than ever to take on the transformation of ediscovery.

"For years, in-house counsel outsourced much of our ediscovery work for litigation and investigations,” said Paul Noonan, in-house ediscovery counsel for United Airlines. “The process was manual and required collaboration with engineering teams. The great stagnation has come to an end, and the move to modern ediscovery is here.”

paul noonan-headshot-color-landscape
Paul Noonan, United Airlines

The benefits of a single point of control multiply:

  • Teams collaborate virtually in real time, and shift direction proactively when circumstances change. 

  • Data volumes that once were overwhelming are manageable with powerful automation and AI features designed to tame them. 

  • Insight into outside counsel work progress helps ensure quality of results. 

  • Response times speed up.

What seemed impossible is within reach: the in-house team can scale its capabilities to meet growing demands and deliver greater value. 

No one likes surprise bills, yet they hit with troubling frequency, making for tricky conversations with the finance department. One of the top reasons organizations decide to bring oversight of discovery in-house is for better visibility into what their external partners have worked on, and how much time they spent. 

“The biggest challenge is surprise costs that we’re not anticipating either within the middle of a month or the middle of a quarter,” HP’s Associate General Counsel Thane Vallette says. “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.” 

Thane Vallette, HP Inc.

With a single solution managed by the in-house team, collaboration with outside counsel or professional services providers takes place virtually and in real time. Transparency is built into the platform, which records all actions, messages, and timelines on a project. 

With full visibility into work progress and the time that went into each task, in-house leaders can identify discrepancies early and collaborate more closely with outside counsel to streamline processes and boost efficiency. The transparency helps strengthen relationships. 

In the long run, it lets in-house leaders proactively manage costs and make sure expenses don’t escalate. Unprecedented levels of insight help inform decisions around legal strategy and resource allocation. 

Keep Data within the Organization and Mitigate Security Risks

In-house legal departments that don’t have the right processes in place traditionally must lean on outside counsel or professional services partners for support. Oversized data sets – containing documents irrelevant to the case – get shipped to external partners for the heavy lift.

The problem is, each document sent outside the organization is a potential source of additional cost and risk. There’s no way to know what happens with sensitive company data once it leaves the organization. External partners have their own systems and security standards that in-house teams have little visibility into. The more systems that touch the data, the less control the in-house team has. It becomes hard to ensure security.

The modern approach flips the script, mitigating the risks associated with data breaches that law firms have been suffering. With control over ediscovery resting squarely in the hands of the internal team, no data ever needs to leave the organization. External partners are invited in with access to just the information that is relevant for the project. 

Collaboration on everything from data collection and processing to review and, if needed, production, happen in a single secure hub overseen by the in-house team.

Transform Your Processes for Better Control

Bringing discovery in-house is a smart way to meet the challenges of the modern business environment. 

By centralizing the approach to litigation and investigations, in-house legal teams gain more control over data, workflows, and processes. This allows for more consistent and efficient handling of ediscovery across matters.

With oversight into every stage of ediscovery, attorneys can more quickly assess new matters, collaborate more closely with outside counsel, and better predict expenses.

Notably, a central hub of collaboration lets legal teams decide how much work to handle internally – and when it’s strategic to bring outside partners in – while maintaining full visibility and control. 

In today's competitive landscape, those who haven’t adopted a new approach are giving up significant gains. 

Download your free copy of "Taking Charge: The Time to Transform Ediscovery Is Now" to learn more about the advantages of bringing discovery in-house for companies like HP Inc.