Exclusive Interview with the Ogletree Deakins' Director of Litigation Support on the Identification and Implementation of a Managed Service Offering
The Cowen Group had the opportunity to catch up with Sean Reddick, the Director of Litigation Support at Ogletree Deakins to discuss delivery of litigation support services and the firm's foray into a Managed Services partnership. Ogletree underwent a detailed analysis of its litigation support offering and an evaluation of the other available options to determine the best service delivery model for the firm and its clients.
The Cowen Group: We know Ogletree Deakins has finalized a new model for the delivery of litigation support services using a managed services provider. Can you share more about what you are doing?
Sean Reddick: At the end of last year, the firm embarked in a process to change our litigation support business model. We previously created an internal service solution intending it to be a midsized eDiscovery vendor. This resulted in a robust operations unit that was capable of processing large amounts of client data into a licensed review platform. Additionally, we utilized numerous vendors to supplement these efforts when the number of projects, or size of a project, exceeded our internal capabilities.
We spent the past few years investing in this process in conjunction with the firm's growth. However, we have reached a point where our clients have bigger, more complex data sources and it's becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with the innovation and nimbleness in the vendor market. Like any law firm, we capitalize our internal departments by committee and it's slow and cumbersome to purchase and deploy new solutions and infrastructure. Currently, the vendor market is somewhat more nimble in its ability to develop and deploy new, innovative technology, and is more flexible in handling sudden influxes of unexpectedly large data volumes.
Over a three to four year period, our internal department had mixed success with user satisfaction—I think many firms experience the same. We reached a point where more users felt constrained with the rigidity of our tools and process. This was affecting the overall usage of the department. That prompted us to re-evaluate the fundamental purpose of our department and how we could modify our service offerings to best serve the needs of our lawyers and clients.
At the end of last year, we decided to re-engineer our internal operations and get out of the eDiscovery processing, hosting, review platform, and production business. Based on our evaluation, we valued the consultative, project management, and solutions architect services that the department provided, but were less committed to the manufacturing aspect of processing discovery data. As a result, we chose to pursue a different business model that leveraged our department's strengths and would provide superior customer service and value.
Ultimately, we finalized a national managed services agreement with Iris Data Services to take over the processing, hosting, review platform, and production functions that we had previously supported in-house.
TCG: How do you define Managed Services?
SR: Managed Services is significantly more than an aggregate of software platforms with hosting and project management wrapped around them. That's the standard preferred provider model and, in this case, didn't provide the level of customization and service we required. Since we are predominantly a labor and employment firm with 42 domestic offices, we not only needed "best-of-breed", innovative tools, but also needed a partner who was creative and entrepreneurial with their solution.
A managed service offering has to be fluid enough to handle projects outside of the normal workflows. Although you design a solution that handles the majority of your cases, there are always going to be custom situations that arise. You have to be able to come up with a solution for this other sector and know that your vendor and process is malleable enough to fit those needs.
The managed services solution we deployed was a mixture of superior people, processes and tools that were able to provide support specifically tailored to our environment.
TCG: What is your service structure with Iris? Did you outsource everything, or are there specific services you continue to provide in-house?
SR: Our initial desire was to fully divest ourselves of processing, hosting, review platform, and production functions. As we analyzed the level of services our clients required, we took a hard look at whether that was really possible, or if we had to maintain some level of internal capability.
We identified three specific categories of functions, the first being services we intend to retire, such as processing, hosting, review platform, and production I mentioned earlier. For clarification, when we say "review platform", we're talking about review software, not attorney reviewers. The second category consists of functions that we won't retire—things not suitable to be handled by a managed services provider, such as case analysis, transcript analysis, trial support, etc. These functions typically fall to Litigation Support by default, but sometimes aren't tracked as internal services and don't lend themselves to outsourcing.
The third category is the transition of migratory functions for our legacy review databases that we will have to continue to support internally. In some instances, the attorneys may not want to migrate existing projects into the new model. Deploying new services across an organization of our size is somewhat disruptive and we can't just flip one switch off and the other one on. For a period of 12 to 18 months, we need to provide internal processing and hosting for the legacy environment, while simultaneously implementing and supporting the new model.
There are also litigation support functions that we specifically did not include in the managed services agreement, for instance, forensic collection, eBriefs, and limited scanning. Because of the specific and somewhat local nature of these services, we carved them out as à la carte items not covered under the umbrella of the arrangement. Iris is still able to provide these services for us upon request.
Additionally, we did not include predictive coding in the managed services agreement, despite Iris's ability to provide technology assisted review services. We may add these in the future once we refine our internal process and workflows, but for the moment it is another à la carte offering.