Facing growing workloads and shrinking budgets, Ricoh brings efficiency to in-house legal teams
This article was created in partnership with Ricoh Canada
Corporate counsel are no strangers to managing skyrocketing workloads on ever-diminishing budgets, but as that pressure ramps up so should the use of available technologies to streamline the data discovery process, reducing overall internal legal resource effort and overall legal spend.
“It’s table stakes to incorporate advanced analytics tools, like continuous active learning, in any review process,” says Jessica Lockett, newly appointed Director of Revenue & Growth, Legal Services, and previous Director of Review Services (eDiscovery) at Ricoh Canada. “It shouldn’t be a question or consideration anymore — it should be as straightforward as ‘if we have data to collect and review, then we need to use advanced tools and workflows.’ It should never really be a question because such tools bring about so many cost and time efficiencies, and actually increase accuracy.”
Lockett, a lawyer herself with 12 years in the eDiscovery space, is passionate about eDiscovery technology because she’s “hyper-focused” on efficiency. In her early days working in eDiscovery, Lockett and her colleagues would notice the same documents coming up for review time and time again and be frustrated with the wasted effort. Coming aboard at Ricoh Canada in 2016, Lockett knew the company had provided excellent eDiscovery services for many years in the Canadian market but lacked their own internal review services, her area of focus and “the key piece of the whole eDiscovery puzzle,” she adds.
Together with her long-time colleague, Sean Lynch, current Director, Client Solutions, Legal Services, Ricoh North America, she developed Ricoh’s Intelligent Review service, an analytics-driven, systematic approach to document review that identifies and delivers key documents sooner and more accurately than not only traditional review methods, but comparative technology-based approaches. Her passion now is educating the legal community on just how effectively technology can overcome common challenges that in-house legal departments face.
“Implementing tools and workflows that allow you to increase efficiency is a no-brainer to me,” Lockett says. “Why do extra work?”
Keeping your (data) house clean
One of the main challenges in-house lawyers face is out of control data storage. With up to 90% of stored corporate data unstructured, unmapped, and lacking a proper IT process to deal with the growing volume, “it puts the company at significant risk — a risk these legal departments are supposed to manage,” Lockett says. But keeping a clean house also brings robust cost benefits, and it starts with taking control of the copious amounts of data.
“Part of effecting cost control is to begin at the beginning,” Lockett says. “If you focus effort and time on managing the data you have now and at the time it is created, you can reduce your overall risk”, adding, “so when an event does occur, a tighter, cleaner, and well-designed data management process will reduce cost and effort to respond to that event.”
File analysis is an important business process that uses technology to identify redundant, obsolete, and trivial data (ROT) to lean up and tighten a corporation’s existing digital documentation and customer information. “Utilizing best-in-class technology we are able to assist in-house counsel in reducing legal, financial, and reputational risk, as well as provide a structure to deal with large amounts of data,” Lynch says. “Eliminating ROT is a powerful first step in building an effective data management and legal response strategy. Knowing what you have and what you don’t need and culling down the data you’re holding helps reduce risk; the culling process also helps to focus strategy on useful customer and organizational data.”
Unsustainable data volumes
Ricoh’s mission has long been getting legal departments to understand the value of implementing advanced eDiscovery and review analytics tools and workflows, and today that drive is stronger than ever. The bottom line is data volumes for review are quickly becoming untenable.
“The world we work in is very reactive and event-focused,” Lockett says, whether it’s a legal event such as litigation, cyberbreach, or internal investigation. However, Lockett adds, “we try to get corporate legal teams to step back, plan, and invest before the event happens because when it does — and we all know it will — they’re better prepared and costs and risk are then minimized.”
Though there’s definitely less hesitancy than there was even five years ago as the tools have developed and people’s trust in them grows, “there’s still some trepidation,” Lockett says. Many corporate counsel say they don’t have the funds to support anything in-house, or that they rely on their external legal counsel to provide the service, or they don’t know how to use the tools available, or which one fits their situation best.
“This all leads back to corporate legal departments’ main concern being reducing costs but still getting the output they need to do their work — and that’s where Ricoh’s immense expertise comes in by working with them in reducing inefficiencies and increasing accuracy, thereby requiring fewer internal resources to carry out the workload,” Lockett says.
Jack of all trades, master of none
Ultimately, the argument is that in-house counsel’s focus is on the legal aspects of the business, not on learning how to operate these tools, maintaining systems, or implementing workflows — and Ricoh whole-heartedly agrees. Part of the company’s consistent messaging is to let in-house counsel and legal teams focus on high-value work; they don’t need to become eDiscovery experts as well. But outsourcing to an external law firm can be a costly option, as is investing in the technology in-house. On top of monetary considerations, the time that needs to be spent developing the expertise to properly use the tools cannot be overlooked. People think they can handle it internally but it’s often ineffective, Lockett says, and can fail to meet their obligations of accuracy, proportionality, and defensibility.
“It’s not simply, ‘oh I’ll just do it and work all day and night for months, so it won’t “cost” anything’ — it will cost you in the end. This isn’t work just anybody can do, this is specialized work. It takes a lot of experience and collaboration with other dedicated people to bring an elevated service and outcome.”
It’s Ricoh’s expertise in the eDiscovery sphere that brings strategic advantage: utilizing a specialized team of certified experts as the go-to option streamlines the process, especially when a department may not need full-time services. Ricoh is available “a la carte” as a scalable, reliable, professional support partner, either when you’re reacting to an event or just getting started with controlling your data. They bring in the tools to do the job, provide recommendations on workflows, and are there to support as and when required.
This isn’t an issue that’s resolving anytime soon — according to Thomson Reuter’s 2023 Legal Department Operations Index, 70% of departments surveyed report higher volumes of work, compared to 65% last year, and 66% say that their budgets are flat or declining — so it’s critical that corporate counsel create efficiencies wherever they can. Partners like Ricoh, with cutting-edge technology and significant expertise, can be a gamechanger when it comes to managing increasing workloads and risk.
“You can’t be a master of everything, and nor should you be,” Lockett says. “Let the data management and eDiscovery professionals provide that expertise when needed.”