ECA Redux

Last fall I hosted a webinar on Early Case Assessment (ECA) that was sponsored by Anacomp and featured  a discussion betweeen veteran legal technology consultant Chuck Kellner (the Vice President for eDiscovery Consulting at Anacomp) and Chris Smith (the Senior Product Manager at Anacomp).  The discussion (which is available for lsitening or download on the Anacomp web site) centered on how ECA can empower law firms and corporate counsel to gain initial case insights and determine optimal strategies which they can leverage to slash ediscovery time, costs and risks.

The premise of the discussion was that the ability to gain early insight into the facts of a case, determine case strategy, and predict, control and minimize time, costs and risks is crucial to effective handling of any matter. With that in mind, Chuck and Chris discussed several key points in developing an ECA strategy including:

  • Utilizing defensible search methodologies to reduce the volume of electronically stored information (ESI) required for review.
  • Making smart, budget-conscious decisions about what to review and how to negotiate the scope of data discovery.
  • Reducing unnecessary capital expenditures and eliminate spends typically made under tight deadlines or resource constraints.
  • Bringing predictable, reasonable costs to electronic data discovery processes

But what has become apparent in discussions I’ve had since that webinar is that ECA is considered the “Holy Grail” of the litigation processs and thus means different things depending upon the person attempting to define it.  So let me repeat the caveat I give to my clients when discussing ECA.  It’s a process not a product.

There is no ECA silver bullet. It can’t be addressed solely by a software solution. Instead, approach ECA as a process, and leverage the right combination of consulting services and proven technologies to develop the best workflow for your case.  As my old friend Browning Marean, Senior Counsel and co-chair of the Electronic Discovery Readiness and Response Group at DLA Piper, says: “The ability to gain early insight into the facts of a case, determine case strategy, and predict, control and reduce costs is exactly what law firms and general counsel departments are looking for.  A vendor’s strategy of approaching ECA as a process, and offering the right combination of consulting services enabled by proven technology should be the right one for addressing these challenges and differentiating itself from other providers in the marketplace.”

We’ll be doing another webinar on exactly this point later in the month and at the same time releasing a white paper to discuss these points. Look for specifics on date and time later this week.


1 comment so far

  1. michael smith on

    I sat in on this webinar, and thanks Tom; Holy Grail indeed! Not only, as you point out,is ECA not a product but a process, it is and has (or should have) always been a process of the application of multiple facets, including IT and Legal knowledge, litigation preparedness, and validated technology. The earlier on and more comprehensive your assessment is, the higher the likelihood that your case and work flow strategy will achieve a desired amount of predictability, cost control, and risk reduction.ECA as a product? Let’s leave it as an essential sum of many parts of a successful litigation approach. I look forward to your upcoming webinar and continued comments.

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