Business intelligence in e-disclosure – why it matters
May 2017 | EXPERT BRIEFING | LITIGATION & DISPUTE RESOLUTION
Business intelligence (BI) has existed in various forms of corporate life for a number of years. From marketing teams using information such as click-through rates to gauge the success of campaigns, through to sales teams assessing the impact of individual people or promotions on takings. Essentially, BI refers to the analysis of an organisation’s data in order to influence decision making, to allow the business to operate more efficiently and to gain a competitive advantage over business rivals.
As the volume of data in the workplace has grown exponentially, so too has the importance of data analysis in driving business decisions. Today, data is erupting from email accounts, smart phones, tablets, social networks and search engines. This data crosses borders, takes on new forms and is housed in virtual clouds. Each employee is likely to send and receive multiple emails per day, and each email is likely to cross the desktops of dozens, if not hundreds of individuals. In this age of Big Data there are now tools, applications and methodologies that are designed to help organisations collect information from both internal and external sources, prepare it for analysis and run queries against it in order to drive business decisions.
Breaking new ground
The legal sector has been slow to take advantage of BI tools. Yet the capability to do this exists, particularly in the area of e-disclosure – a process in which electronically stored information (ESI) is sought, located, secured and searched with the intent of using it as evidence in a civil or criminal legal case. When people talk about business insights in e-disclosure they are usually referring to email threading or predictive coding, and while these remain essential and important aspects, they do not provide a comprehensive insight into all the available data across collection, processing, review and production. There are opportunities to go even deeper into data analysis.
Take a corporation using an in-house legal team or hiring a law firm to help with its litigation, and deploying the services of an external organisation to assist with data and process management, for example. Part of the disclosure process is to figure out how to limit the corporation’s data to certain people within particular periods of time so legal teams can look at those documents and decide if they are relevant or privileged, before being given to the other side. Currently, each one of those projects is treated as a separate and distinct task, even though a corporation might be involved in very similar projects hundreds of times a year. There are often good reasons for this, including the fact that different people from the client organisation or law firm may work on particular cases, yet the end result is that businesses are unable to identify any trends across cases or compare the services and efficiency of different providers.
If a business is sued 20 times a year around labour and employment issues, it will benefit from knowing what the wider trends are. It needs to know which organisations these claims are regularly coming from, how many people are typically involved and how many documents they typically have to give to the other side. The business might hire three different law firms to represent it across 20 different cases, so which one is the most efficient with that data? Which collects the least data and which has the highest responsiveness rate in terms of that data being relevant?
Having the answers to these questions can help identify the most efficient and cost-effective law firms, as well as helping organisations get a better idea of how much similar cases should cost them, as well as identifying any potential underlying issues in the business which could reduce the number of cases in the first place. An experienced third-party service provider with world class software capabilities can give organisations the power to draw much greater insight, both within individual cases and more generally. This BI driven approach of being able to review across a number of cases – rather than considering matters on a case-by-case basis, equips organisations with vital statistics they would not otherwise have. You can start with what you handed over to the other side and see trends within the case, backwards and forward, which is not usually possible. But the real potential is in picking up trends across cases so you can be more accurate with your budget and make strategic changes to be more efficient.
Harnessing the potential of BI
Currently, the legal sector is right at the beginning of deploying this innovation in e-disclosure, but the pace of deployment will pick up once awareness of the potential of BI in this field gets out. It takes a really specific series of skillsets to do this and you have to have a few pieces in place to properly solve this problem, but forward thinking experts with a detailed understanding of injecting BI are already at hand to assist organisations with this process.
In the long term, applying BI in e-disclosure will become standard practice for legal teams, in the same way that BI is used by other parts of organisations. No marketing person today would advertise for a campaign and not want to see A and B testing and click-through rates, or to create three different campaigns that are all radically different and not want to know which one is best. BI is a part of day-to-day life inside corporations, and this will be the same for e-disclosure too.
Adi Elliott is vice president of market planning at Epiq Systems.
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