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What Are the Biggest Challenges for Law Departments in 2016? This Report Has Some Answers: eDiscovery Trends

According to Consilio’s Law Department Benchmarking Report, a survey encompassing data from 119 company’s law departments ranging in revenue from 2 to 10 billion dollars which was released on Tuesday, over 50 percent of law departments find that increasing or changing regulatory requirements pose the biggest challenge in 2016.  That, and other, findings can be found in the report, which is now available.

The sixth annual survey aims to help general counsel (GCs) better understand the effectiveness of their operating processes and was conducted in partnership with The General Counsel Forum.  We covered last year’s survey here when it was issued by Huron Legal (which, as you probably know by now, was acquired by Consilio a couple of months ago).

As noted in Consilio’s press release announcement of the report, while 58 percent of law departments have an internal data-privacy program, just 21 percent take the same precautions with information shared externally when managing vendors. The lack of risk-assessment programs makes sensitive data vulnerable to hacking and other cyber threats.

“As security concerns become more commonplace, law departments are working to ensure proper data security measures are implemented to protect sensitive company information both internally and externally,” said Bret Baccus, managing director, Consilio. “We’re seeing more companies use objective, metrics-based measurements to assess outside counsel and other providers’ security capabilities. Those metrics are being used to select third-party vendors based on the risk level in sharing confidential information and data.”

Other highlights of the report include:

  • Spending continued to increase, although at a lower rate than the prior year – at 7 percent from 2014 to 2015 as compared to an increase of 2.2 percent from 2013 to 2014.
  • Law departments are becoming more sophisticated in spend management, with 67 percent of respondents using matter-level budgets and 74 percent having, or planning to implement, structured programs for conducting rate negotiations.
  • The top department initiative planned over the next three years was formalization of outside counsel performance review process (with 46 percent of respondents either already implementing or planning to implement within the next 2-3 years), followed by development of an enterprise information governance program (38 percent) and tracking of department metrics and performance indicators (36 percent).
  • As law departments look to effectively manage costs and workloads, many are more often outsourcing discovery work to non-law firm vendors. Over 75 percent of companies with over $10 billion in revenue reported using alternative service providers for document review and data processing/hosting, with 44 percent of companies between $2 and $10 billion reporting the same.
  • Discovery management programs are fairly common at the largest companies, but relatively few companies with revenue under $10 billion have them, even though for companies with any volume of litigation those programs can reduce risk by improving consistency and defensibility and save money by limiting the need to “reinvent the wheel” with each new case.

The highlights of the Law Department Benchmarking Report are available for download here.  For more information about the complete report, please contact Bret Baccus (bbaccus@consilio.com or 7132225910) or Jaime Woltjen (jwoltjen@consilio.com or 312-880-3737).

So, what do you think?  Are you surprised by any of these trends?  Please share any comments you might have with us or let us know if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

P.S. — Happy Birthday to my wife, Paige!  I love you honey!

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.