According to the Association of Corporate Counsel, "[m]apping a business process is a simple, orderly and powerful way to identify and describe each step that takes place in a business process. Process mapping helps you to see through the complexity of organization structures…focus on the activities that are potentially generating legal risks…[and]…develop effective prevention solutions." In February 2013, The Cowen Group facilitated two interactive webinars with our New New Leaders and Think Tank Advisory Board focused on applying legal process mapping to discovery workflows and the impact these efforts have on cost savings, efficiencies, and effectiveness. We were joined by panelists from leading law firms and corporations including Reed Smith, Morgan Lewis, Seyfarth Shaw, Fish & Richardson, and Fidelity Investments who are utilizing process mapping as a part of an overall project management or efficiency strategy to gain a competitive advantage for their organizations.
As defined by Tom Baldwin, CKO at Reed Smith, process mapping is a planning method that graphically conveys a given type of work, capturing all the components of a workflow and breaking down tasks, roles, timeframes, and know-how (precedents, forms and guidance) into their most basic levels. The picture of the now-familiar eDiscovery Reference Model is in essence a process map depicting the flow of a discovery matter at its highest level. Each phase
then gets broken down into less complex activities until the actual tasks necessary to complete an ESI production are each defined as an activity (a box) in the workflow.
These boxes can include the most optimal resource to do each task, alternative resources, the length of time each task should take, billing codes and any additional information.
Some may think that defining and visually representing a workflow at this level of detail is a wasted effort. After all, every experienced litigation support project manager knows how to run an ESI production. However, as one of our favorite TCG books, The Checklist Manifesto spells out in great detail taking the time to think about, reach consensus on, assign responsibility for, and memorialize on paper minute details of complex functions performed in high pressure situations, such as surgery and aviation, saves lives. Litigation support is no different—the contentious nature of our litigation system, roller coaster timeframes, compressed deadlines, amounts of data, and complexity of technology add up to a perfect storm that almost guarantees a step will be missed or skipped along the way, causing errors and thereby costing more in terms of time and money. Outlining and documenting an agreed-upon process allows less room for error and more importantly, if an error occurs, allows teams to go back and analyze where the process may have failed or needs improvement. These "after-action reviews," in project management terms, serve as educational moments for case teams and allows for a continued refinement and evolution of the eDiscovery effort. This leads to greater increases in efficiency and cost trimming.
Process mapping doesn't only has preventative benefits such as keeping a rushed team from skipping a step to save time. It also has proactive benefits such as better-defined allocation of resources and a more accurate prediction of costs and pricing.
In an era when law firms are taking more risk upon themselves to perform work under alternative fee agreements (AFAs), having a process that depicts which level of employee should perform a specific task, how much time it should take based on certain parameters, and their bill rates can help organizations reach a challenging goal, determining the actual cost and price of an eDiscovery project. From then on, a model can be tweaked to identify tasks where less expensive resources could be utilized, reducing costs for a corporate client and increasing profit margins for law firms. These cost savings can then be transformed into marketing advantages helping firms win more business. As stated by Rose Battaglia, Global COO of Legal and Compliance at Deutsche Bank, "[t]hose law firms that have better processes for mapping workflow…will be able to rise above the firms resistant to change. These firms will be able to offer a more competitive price and not need to compromise quality."
Process mapping also helps organizations perform in-matter review, preventing scope creep by determining how a matter is progressing against the budget and limiting the need for "fire drills" by identifying which tasks are completed or still outstanding throughout the life of a project. This works for both the client and the firm, increasing satisfaction, improving predictability and consistency, improving communications, increasing a firm's realization, and better managing risk.
In fact, Jessica Robinson, Director of eData Practice Support at Morgan Lewis and adjunct professor at Georgetown’s Center for Business and Continuing Education, sees process mapping as an integral component to what she defines as "extreme project management." In Ms. Robinson's estimate, parameters can change so quickly and so frequently in a litigation (number of custodians, amount of data, timeframe to produce, even what is considered relevant evidence), that the best way to respond quickly, efficiently, and effectively is to have a well-defined map of where you are going in the first place. Or to put it in laymen's terms: you won’t have the ability to detour around a 2-hour traffic accident delay on Interstate 65 using state routes unless you start with a map of the area, your planned route, and connecting roads. Dave Cohen, a Partner at Reed Smith, agrees, seeing two of the major benefits to process mapping as a tool that allows for analysis and further customizing of the "standard" process to meet any unique matter needs or the expansion of the process to cover new types of situations that arise.
Analysis of process and identification of efficiencies and time savings can be quite beneficial to corporate legal departments as well—especially for organizations with an active litigation portfolio. Martha Mazzone, Vice President and Associate General Counsel at Fidelity Investments, led the effort to map her organization's eDiscovery processes, uncovering a number of redundancies, time-sucks, and manually intensive phases of a discovery matter. By redefining and streamlining these processes, including the order of activities and assignment of roles and responsibilities, Ms. Mazzone was able to eliminate duplicative efforts between her general counsel's office and outside counsel, automate some previously labor-intensive tasks, and work around/reorder steps that took inordinate amounts of time. Her efforts resulted in impressive efficiencies and significant reduction of eDiscovery expenses. In addition, the transformation of the eDiscovery function has played an important role in inspiring innovation and creativity in other members of the legal department. They are looking at other areas where they could realize efficiencies through better management, including mapping their legal billing process.
In his widely-read bestseller, The End of Lawyers, Richard Susskind outlines four business models for future business practices. Both "The Glazed Doughnut" and "The Cog" refer to an evolving career opportunity for process managers or process analysts who are responsible for process deconstruction, project management, and liaising between the organization's expert trusted advisors and enhanced practitioners and either internal or external routine workers (reviewers and staff attorneys). As all of our thought leaders demonstrated in our discussions, leaders in the eDiscovery and knowledge management space can truly define a niche for themselves, helping their firms achieve client goals and spreading litigation support's efforts with process mapping to other areas of the practice. As Susskind states, "Who, in the future, will take on the responsibility for legal process management (process analysis and project management)? This is a fascinating question, upon which the future health of the legal profession may in part depend." This appears to be an evolving role in which today's litigation support managers and directors can excel and succeed as true value-adds to their clients and law firms.
For more information about The Cowen Group's New New Leaders or Think Tank Advisory Board, contact Maribel Rivera or Jennifer Schwartz.
The Cowen Group is excited to announce that we will take a leadership role in the Equivio Predictive Coding Seminar on March 5, 2013 in Washington DC. David Cowen, CEO and Managing Partner of The Cowen Group has been invited to moderate the full day event that gives attendees a deeper dive into the technology. This invitation-only, complimentary session is focused on informing and instructing corporations and law firms in the "how" and "why" of predictive coding. Using real-world case studies, seminar sessions will provide the fundamental knowledge that litigators, eDiscovery counsel, litigation support professionals, corporations and firm executives need to use, manage, and make decisions about the implementation of predictive coding technology.
This is the second educational seminar Equivio is hosting; the first took place in New York in December of 2012 and received overwhelmingly positive feedback by attendees.
The agenda for the March seminar consists of segments delivered by industry leaders in eDiscovery and Equivio subject matter experts, including a keynote address by John Rosenthal, Partner at Winston & Strawn. The full day seminar will address the following topics:
The break outs are designed to provide an objective view and the fundamental knowledge required to implement and use predictive coding technologies. “Equivio is highly invested in thought leadership in the eDiscovery and information governance industry and The Cowen Group is excited to participate in the Equivio Predictive Coding Seminar that will inform, instruct and inspire attendees,” states David Cowen.
We look forward to participating in this premier educational seminar on March 5, 2013 in Washington, DC.
If you would like to learn more about the Equivio Predictive Coding Seminar or future events and seminars The Cowen Group hosts or contributes to contact Maribel Rivera, Senior Director of Events and Marketing at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-661-0025.
In 2011, The Cowen Group sat down with more than 20 major law firms to discuss the models, structures and evolution of their litigation support services. A year later, over 100 law firms contributed to our 2nd Annual Report giving us the next evolution in litigation support delivery models.
The latter half of 2012 saw the beginning of an evolution in the eDiscovery and litigation support space. Spurred on by a number of considerations such as increasing ESI data volumes, the rapid advancement of technology, growing corporate control of eDiscovery processes, and the maturing competitiveness in the vendor market, law firms are reconsidering how they are delivering litigation technology services. At an executive level, firms are strategically asking themselves, "do we want to be in the business of litigation support and eDiscovery services?" and, "what is the business purpose of this department?" Law firms are increasingly evaluating their litigation support departments from a business perspective, asking themselves questions such as:
Learn More about the 2nd Annual Litigation Support Models & Structures Report
In many ways 2012 mirrored 2011 in the development of Litigation Support and eDiscovery talent. Demand for talent remained moderate to strong throughout 2012, while salary ranges remained relatively flat experiencing modest cost of living adjustments of 3 to 5 percent in base compensation.
The Cowen Group's Seventh Annual Salary Survey identified four critical trends in 2012 that will affect the demand for talent in 2013.
As forecasted by our 2011 Salary Survey and Market Landscape, staff expansion continued at large established firms with sophisticated litigation support departments, broad client support and executive leadership. A handful of firms took strategic steps to modernize their litigation support offering and increase the capacity and capabilities of their teams. The majority of the market continued to make replacement hires or modest additions to their staffs where necessary. These replacement hires were driven by the shift the industry continues to experience in the flow of talent from law firms to vendors and corporations.
Throughout our thought leadership series and research efforts in 2012, the community remarked on the increase of corporate control, heightened regulatory requirements and enforcement actions at a state and federal level, the rise of managed services, and the small but significant amount of law firms building their own internal vendor as contributing factors for the shift in talent. These drivers will most likely continue to put competitive pressure on law firm service models and hiring plans extending and increasing the talent flow between firms, vendors and corporations in 2013.
To learn more about the shift in talent and other compensation trends, view The Cowen Group's Seventh Annual Salary Report
Out guest blog on the changing landscape of eDiscovery Talent
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Big Firms Give Personnel Biggest Paydays
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David Cowen predicts a huge spike in outsourcing to meet demands of eDiscovery, compliance, and Big Data.
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TCG's 2012 Q2 Critical Trends Survey.
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A surge in eDiscovery work in 2012.
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