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Partnering to develop a new model for ediscovery

  • Law Firms

With 53 offices across the United States, as well as in Europe, Canada, and Mexico, Ogletree Deakins is one of the largest labor and employment law firms, representing management in all types of employment-related legal matters. The firm represents a diverse range of clients, including many Fortune 50 companies in the U.S. A litigation support team of 10 individuals supports the entire firm.

Ogletree Deakins has worked with Epiq Managed Services for more than 10 years. In 2010, the firm was processing and hosting data in-house, using databases that were past their usefulness. “Ogletree was looking for a way to elevate our technology,” says Peggy Stulberg, Ogletree Deakins’ Director of Litigation Support. “The thought of bringing Relativity in-house was concerning. The challenges of supporting that infrastructure across our then 40 plus offices would have been daunting.”

Over the years, Epiq and Ogletree Deakins’ Litigation Support Team have developed what Stulberg calls a true partnership. “One of Ogletree’s guiding principles is ’One Team’, and I truly feel that concept is embodied in our relationship with Epiq Managed Services. When working with Epiq, I know they are with us as one team.”

Developing a manufacturing model for ediscovery

With more than 40 new ediscovery projects added each month and hundreds of active projects ongoing in Relativity, the Litigation Support Team case managers handle dozens of projects at any given time. Efficiency is critical to managing the caseload. “The goal of our transition to a managed services model,” says Tanya Glaser,

Senior Manager of Litigation Support, “was to turn ediscovery into a ‘manufacturing’ process, rather than a series of hand-crafted activities, endlessly reinventing the wheel.”

From the beginning, Epiq Managed Services worked with Ogletree Deakins to develop consistent, repeatable, and reliable processes and workflows. “Because of those established workflows, our processes are repeatable,” Glaser continues, “and our constituents know what to expect. They understand what’s reasonable. There are no surprises. They see the same Relativity design for just about every single case.”

Consistent workflows spare case teams a lot of the up-front hand-wringing that can plague the start of a case. “That means that, at startup, case teams aren’t peppered with a lot of questions,” says Glaser. “We don’t need to spend much time to get an ediscovery project off the ground. All they have to say is, ‘We have data coming in, and these are the names of the custodians.’ Our team will take that information, ask for the time zone, and run with it, getting their project up and underway quickly.”

A culture of continual improvement

Ogletree Deakins and Epiq have constantly refined and optimized their workflows and processes over the history of the relationship. Part of that refinement is incorporation of new technologies. Glaser explains, ”We’ve been able to integrate advanced features and AI technology directly into our base workflows so that we don’t have to keep repeating questions like, ‘do we want to use email threading on this case…’ When it became clear that email threading was a stable product, we just built it into our default way of doing things.”

Continuous Active Learning (CAL) is another AI technology Ogletree Deakins has built into their workflows. “It’s assumed we’ll be using CAL in the absence of some reason not to,” Stulberg states. Additionally, these ediscovery tools were adopted with integration top-of-mind. “This ensures that we’re using tools together in ways that are compatible and efficient, and avoiding the quality issues that can arise from piecemeal or ad hoc workflows,” Glaser notes.“ I would say the advantage of a managed services relationship,” Stulberg muses, “is that it makes things possible that otherwise would not be. Epiq has been key in helping us to harness technology and innovation to better serve our clients’ interests.”

Partnering for new possibilities

The firm has contacted other vendors to explore their managed services offerings. However, doing so only convinced Stulberg that Epiq ‘gets it.’ “Epiq understands what we’re trying to do here,” Glaser adds. “We’re establishing a manufacturing style process with default workflows, repeatable, consistent processes, all that being key to providing quality representation with exceptional value.”

“It takes two to build a relationship like this,” Stulberg concludes. “Our partnership is exceptional. It allows Epiq to shine and allows us to shine.”

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