David Cowen, President and Managing Director of The Cowen Group, hosted another wonderful evening of conversation at Acquavit, on 53rd Ave., sponsored by kCura. These informal gatherings of leaders in information governance, privacy and e-discovery permit the free exchange of ideas, build community and improve communication.

The importance of these gathering was highlighted during a discussion about expectation management in e-discovery workflow and cost management. The conversation revealed that there can be gaps in communication among company counsel, e-discovery teams and external counsel. Among the revelations:
1. Internal counsel can be frustrated that not all external counsel can effectively advocate on e-discovery issues—including the use of TAR.
2. External counsel pointed out that these are specialized skills and often clients’ billing guidelines prevent legal teams from pulling in needed expertise.

3. Internal counsel noted law firms often had unrealistic expectations on data gathering and culling; external counsel observed that law firms were rarely given comprehensive insight into company IT systems and information governance systems.

At the root, what was revealed were systematic gaps in communication, likely a function of shifting economics of e-discovery, the increasing prevalence of advanced technologies inside corporations and the trend towards companies directly engaging e-discovery service providers.

As one inside counsel summarized: “We’ve placed so much emphasis over the past few years on developing our relationships with external vendors, we’ve cut our external counsel out of the communication.”

That said, as an external e-discovery counsel, the expectations of our clients are clear: Communicate your value internally, educate your associates and continue the innovation and efficiency building.

My takeaway was the need to periodically revisit basic assumptions about what is expected, particularly in a dynamic marketplace. With all the change occurring—Big Data, analytics and machine learning, increased emphasis on privacy and security—the opportunity to sit down with a mix of expert industry participants is invaluable.

Dera Nevin is director of e-discovery services at Proskauer Rose, based in New York City.

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