Michael Ford (post until Oct. 31/19)
Legal Suppliers, Electronic Discovery

The benefits of managed eDiscovery services

The benefits of eDiscovery managed service arrangements offer cost predictability, easy access to data and the ability to expand storage quickly and simply, says Jason Bell-Masterson, manager of the Toronto branch of the legal technology company Epiq.

Epiq, a leading legal technology company whose eDiscovery software helps law firms improve workflow and productivity, offers both transactional and managed service arrangements, Bell-Masterson tells AdvocateDaily.com.

Transactional services focus on one matter at a time, where each project is treated separately and distinctly, and the costs aren't necessarily predictable far in advance, he says.

"The data is stored and accessed from an environment that has databases for all of our clients, but each firm can only access their own," Bell-Masterson explains. "Epiq takes care of the processing and the servicing."

Managed services arrangements are different, he says.

“These are typically longer-term contracts where clients purchase a certain volume of space — gigabytes or terabytes depending on the need — and they are free to use that space however they want. In a managed service arrangement, many clients do their own data processing."

Managed environments offer more control to the users, where clients have the option to process and service the data if they want, giving them more flexibility while offering cost predictability, Bell-Masterson says.

"Managed services allow people to create user accounts directly whereas transactional accounts must be created through us and added on to the back end for security reasons," he says.

Bell-Masterson says the managed services model is designed for law firms to replace in-house IT systems.

"The downside of in-house systems is that firms have to invest in the infrastructure, the IT support, and there is a sizeable overhead that goes along with that," he says.

Epiq's managed service takes over that infrastructure, he says.

"The advantage of an Epiq managed service is that they wouldn't have to worry about technical aspects and related delays, such as adding space to handle an unexpectedly large set of data," he says. "We have people on call 24/7 so adding that space on our side is usually very quick and simple.

"We're built to handle a case that comes in with a terabyte or more of data. We put it through a very rigorous process where we have expert teams who handle this data and perform various quality assurance tests on it, and it goes through it smoothly."

Bell-Masterson says if more space is needed, Epiq's technicians can simply flip a switch to enable it.

Removing the IT responsibilities allows law firms to focus more on their work and less on the technology that supports them, he says.  

Bell-Masterson says it’s often cost-effective for law firms to outsource data management in part because many in-house systems aren't built to measure billable hours, so "they're absorbing the cost."

"It gets tricky because it requires much more tracking and a different set of expertise to say, 'this was the cost of the infrastructure that was allocated to this one client,’" he says.

"In an Epiq managed services environment, we provide all that reporting to the law firm," Bell-Masterson says. "It gives the firm the ability to allocate costs to a specific case or file."

That gives the firm the option to recover costs rather than directly paying for infrastructure, he says.

Companies involved in litigation or regulatory investigations also use Epiq's managed services environments to store legal data, Bell-Masterson says.

"It gives them a single place to store data, and they don’t have to deal with the IT aspects," he says.

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