I recorded a webinar with ZyLAB’s Johannes Scholtes last week in which we revisited a topic we have covered before – the gap which exists between companies and their lawyers on the subject of information governance and the anticipation of eDiscovery.
I took my opening theme, in part, from an article by Tom Kilroy, GC at Misys, and in part from a recent conversation with in-house counsel at a European bank. Tom Kilroy’s article, about which I wrote when it was published, was called Big 4 a Reason, and praised the Big 4 for their ability, at least relative to their law firm rivals, to “think very carefully about how to engage with and develop their current and future clients.” The implication, which is what I explored with the bank lawyer, was that the lawyers seemed to think largely in terms of transactions which, when complete, allowed them to send a bill, close the file and wait for the next instructions. There might be a series of transactions, but each began as if it had nothing to do with the previous one.
That both expands on what Tom Kilroy actually said and (as I made clear in opening) is a generalisation which does not apply to all, but the bank in-houser recognised the idea – and immediately made it clear that he was, on the whole, quite glad to see the back of the lawyers and their fees until he needed them again. I don’t think it was just the fees which counted here – the Big 4 don’t work for free either – but was symptomatic of a perception that many lawyers do not have much to add to the client’s business until the next problem arose requiring their specialist skills.
However weak that may be as a generalisation, it certainly seems true of eDiscovery, where lawyers do not seem to have much value to bring to pre-emptive discussions – not just how can we (all) do better next time?, but what steps can be taken to minimise the trouble, risk and expense of an eDiscovery exercise for litigation, regulatory or investigate purposes?
The ZyLAB webinar outlines some of the problems which arise on both sides and offers some suggestions for bridging that gap, including having a better understanding of what technology solutions exist to manage eDiscovery problems. The mere solution of problems is only a part of it of course – better managed information helps uncover value within data stores.
The webinar is available for download and the registration page is here.