Electronic discovery work could present law firms with a huge opportunity for revenue growth, but it seems not to be working out that way.
Clients report that rising litigation expenses are one of their biggest cost concerns, and the mushrooming cloud of e-discovery is perhaps the biggest driver of litigation costs now that many litigants maintain terabytes of data related to every conceivable aspect of their business.
The problem seems to be that clients are not convinced that law firms have made electronic discovery efficient or affordable, so they are often outsourcing that giant task – to firms such as Xerox Litigation Services, Merrill Corporation or DiscoverReady – or they are bringing it in-house. The latter solution is one of the fastest growing.
According to this month’s Legaltech News, the 9th annual survey report of The Cowen Group reveals that demand for in-house electronic discovery professionals is up by 50 percent at surveyed corporations.
Meanwhile, at law firms, EDD salaries remain flat, but litigation support coordinators (who act more like project managers) are seeing a 14 percent rise in their base salaries.
Law firms that can and have mastered electronic discovery must do a better job of tracking, generating and communicating data that demonstrate their superior efficiency and results in order to defend their marketplace position against increasing encroachment by technology service vendors and corporate in-house professionals.
Other firms – the ones that can’t compete in electronic discovery services – must learn the marketplace for electronic discovery solutions and associate with the best and most highly efficient providers to provide corporate clients with the best service in an increasingly crowded legal marketplace.