Groundhog Day 2022 | Bridging the Gap: Addressing the Need for eDiscovery Staff with Technical Expertise

Published on February 17, 2022


Acorn is a legal data consulting firm that specializes in AI and Advanced Analytics for litigation applications, while providing rigorous customer service to the eDiscovery industry. Acorn primarily works with large regional, midsize national and boutique litigation firms. Acorn provides a high-touch, customized litigation support services with a heavy emphasis on seamless communications.

Acorn’s CEO, Lia Majid, was joined by Miller Johnson’s Director of Information Technology, Joseph Anderson, for this year’s Groundhog Day webinar to discuss the growing need for eDiscovery personnel with technical expertise.

The discussion expanded on how the lack of eDiscovery personnel, along with the increased need for eDiscovery services, has produced significant industry challenges in recent years. When it comes to managing eDiscovery in-house, there is often a lack of personnel whose main function is eDiscovery. As Joseph notes, “We had an eDiscovery practice that consisted of one project manager working on one case professionally, and then we had a handful of paralegals who were working in Relativity and working with the discovery. But not doing it as their main function and goal…that’s not scalable. If you get one big case, then all that time is taken away and there’s no way to expand eDiscovery within the firm.”

Joseph identified a need for strategically leveraging a partnership with an eDiscovery vendor to accelerate and expand eDiscovery in their firm. They initially didn’t have an established process for dealing with vendors and a structured way to put together the documentation and pull in all the relevant information. As Joseph mentions, “There was this idea that we have to get it into Relativity, we have to do the searches, oops we did something wrong. Okay dump everything out and let’s put it back in.” But through their partnership, they were able to establish a standardized process for each case. Now when there is a new case, they move through their standardized process and identify what needs to be produced before putting it into Relativity, avoiding unnecessary rework. With this increased efficiency, their team’s bandwidth was opened and provided more room for scalability.

A large contributor to these standardized processes involved designing a model to their firm’s case needs, especially for smaller cases. Partnering together, we developed a Small Case Solution, allowing them to leverage Relativity for small matters for a flat fee. Utilizing Acorn’s Small Case Solutions, Joseph’s team created a model where they can bring smaller cases into the RelativityOne software and spread this service to other practices within their firm that typically hadn’t leveraged eDiscovery tools. Joseph mentions, “If you told me that General Counsel would use it for a general investigation, or a Real Estate Partner would be using eDiscovery and that we would have 25-30 cases up from 4, I would have thought no way.” Through their partnership, they now can spread eDiscovery across the firm, and offer the right tools at the right time and place.

By using a standardized workflow with a self-service approach, Joseph’s firm was able to take on more work without needing to hire any new eDiscovery talent. With the current landscape of eDiscovery staffing shortages, it is often not feasible for firms to hire a new paralegal each time new cases arise. Investing in talent also presents cost challenges as Joseph notes, “When we brought an individual on, it was only 20 hours a week and we had the ability to scale up. But if we didn’t need 20 hours, we were still paying for it.” Workloads are constantly fluctuating, but with a strategic partnership to help with the ups and downtime in terms of work within the space, they can scale accordingly.

Despite the challenges surrounding access to individuals in the industry with technical expertise, leveraging a strategic partnership allows you to bridge the gap. Working closely with a partner not only offers access to high eDiscovery expertise but helps you create standardized processes, models tailored to your firm’s needs, and leverage powerful tools at the right moments to truly scale and expand your eDiscovery practice. Transforming eDiscovery into a tool can help leverage across more practices and expand your firm’s efficiency and caseload.

View the full 2022 Groundhog Day session here.