E-discovery Tools Aid Compliance, Save Money

By Tony Kontzer Print this article Print

Growing numbers of companies are using emerging e-discovery technologies to more effectively focus their document searches.

By Tony Kontzer

When it comes to the electronic discovery of documents, less is more.

This concept is driving corporations and law firms to tap into a new generation of e-discovery tools designed to help them more effectively focus their document searches. It's an issue that strikes right at the bottom line: The more documents handed over to attorneys for review, the more expensive the discovery process is.

At United Technologies, efforts to pare down the amount of data it routinely handed off to third parties stretch back to 2007, when the company started looking into how it would cost-effectively comply with a wave of e-discovery legislation. Prior to that time, UTC had relied completely on those third parties to handle every part of the e-discovery process. But by late 2008, the Hartford, Conn.-based aerospace and building systems giant had decided to bring some of the process in-house, funding a team that would handle the collection and culling of documents needed to respond to regulatory and legal inquiries.

Early the following year, UTC (whose business units include aircraft engine maker Pratt &Whitney, helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., and Otis Elevator Co.) began assembling that team, brought in e-discovery software from Guidance Software and Clearwell Systems, and started collecting broad swaths of data in search of relevant documents.

In relatively short order, the team realized it would be simpler to make a list of documents it didn't need. However, as it became more familiar with the software's capabilities, it moved on to more targeted inclusion lists, eventually adding filters that allowed it to search for documents by date and keyword.

The results spoke for themselves. "We were bringing in a very small fraction of the data that we used to," says Timothy Rogers, group manager of IT security and the man who recommended—and now leads—the internal e-discovery team.

Things got even better when, late last year, Rogers' team began working with UTC's internal legal staff to complete "first-pass" reviews of culled documents, a move that Rogers estimates has eliminated nearly one-third of the data being handed over to third-party lawyers. All told, Rogers says UTC's lawyers are reviewing 95 percent fewer documents than they were before the company acquired its new tools and began refining its e-discovery process.

This article was originally published on 2012-07-11
Tony Kontzer is a freelance writer for Baseline magazine.
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