Wake up! Wake up!

We know we put you to sleep with the title of this post, but we promise: The post will be a short one, and you might actually be interested.

For large corporations that are repeat litigants, the cost of litigation document management is a big issue. Defense counsel must identify, gather, and then objectively and subjectively code a gazillion documents to be able to find the relevant ones for use in witness preparation, hearings, and trial. Here’s the question: What are companies doing to reduce the overwhelming cost of reviewing documents and coding them objectively (date, author, recipient, copies, etc.) and subjectively (to correspond to issues in the litigation)?

In our completely unscientific inquiry, we’ve learned of three approaches that companies are taking to avoid the cost of having a warehouseful of law firm associates spend endless hours (at law firm rates) coding documents:

1. Have document coding performed offshore. English-speaking personnel in India and elsewhere now offer coding services at prices that compare favorably to rates available in the United States. Some companies now ship their coding tasks offshore.

2. Have document coding performed inhouse. Some companies now employ full-time staff whose task is simply to code documents for litigation purposes. For companies involved in sufficiently large (or sufficiently frequent) litigation, the task of coding documents is like the task of painting the Golden Gate Bridge: It never ends.

3. Have document coding performed by contract lawyers. Some companies now set a fixed (and relatively low) hourly rate that outside counsel may charge for coding documents. Outside counsel then select appropriate contract lawyers, oversee the coding process, and charge the client the fixed hourly rate. Outside counsel’s profit is the difference between the amount paid to the contract lawyers (plus any administrative costs) and the fixed hourly rate paid by the client.

There you have the results of our survey. If you’re aware of any other cost-saving measures being adopted in this area, we’re all ears.

Note that we haven’t passed judgment on the wisdom of these approaches to coding documents. We’re confident that some folks would argue (maybe correctly; we’re agnostic on the issue) that the only way to assure quality control of document coding is to have the work performed by law firm employees.

Oh, yes — we promise: Our next post will have a catchier title.