Fenwick & West Director of Law & Technology, Robert Brownstone, was recently quoted in a Law Firm Inc. article titled, "Data, Data Everywhere: How top law firms are capitalizing on the explosion in electronic data discovery."
The boom in eDiscovery presents opportunities and challenges for law firms. eDiscovery is now a significant profit center for Fenwick & West, according to Brownstone, the firm's law and technology director. But the work is full of risks, too, and mistakes can be costly. No one wants to be the next Kirkland & Ellis, which lost a case, and a client, when its botched eDiscovery helped trigger a $1.6 billion verdict in 2005 against Morgan Stanley & Co Inc.
Firms are taking different approaches to eDiscovery, and so far, at least, no one has created the magic formula. The more eDiscovery work that a firm takes on, the bigger its infrastructure—and investment—needs to be, turning law firms into small-scale (and not-so-small-scale) technology companies. Fenwick & West dedicates 20 dual and quad-processor computers to the work, and relies on 35 different software packages.
"Our processing work ends up [costing clients] at least 20 percent less than the services of any outside vendor," says Brownstone. Even still, Fenwick comes out in the black. "We don't use processing as a loss leader for our review efforts or vice versa," says Brownstone. "Both kinds of work are profitable."
From reporter Alan Cohen at Law Firm Inc.
Subsequent to the original article, Prism Legal's Strategic Legal Technology blog posted a pertinent June 9, 2007 comment. The Prism blog post analyzed the original Law Firm Inc. article by praising Fenwick's eDiscovery approach relative to other firms' ostensibly more costly methods.