InHouse 21 featured highly successful in-house legal teams who are finding new ways to leverage internal resources and “do more with less” to drastically reduce outside counsel and vendor spend.
Katie Lynch, Director of Legal Support at Veolia North America, and Tammy Thompson, Director of Litigation Services at Worley, shared some of the most compelling examples of big in-housing wins. By taking full control over their discovery process, these leaders are achieving massive savings in outside legal costs while solidifying reputations as invaluable assets for their teams.
Read on for a deep dive into their success stories and actionable tips. This post will focus on Worley’s in-housing experience, and we’ll cover Veolia’s case in a second installment that will be available on Logikcull’s blog very soon.
If you’d rather get them straight from the sources, you can watch the full session below:
Debunking the “Lack of Bandwidth" Myth: How Worley Saves Millions in Discovery with a Small Budget
As a global provider of professional project and asset services in the energy, chemicals, mining, and resources sectors, Worley employs over 47,000 people in 49 countries. With a legal team of more than a hundred legal professionals, Tammy Thompson stands out as Worley’s only certified eDiscovery specialist.
But no challenge is too big for Thompson. Through her leadership and extensive eDiscovery experience, she’s constantly driving in-housing initiatives to bring down Worley’s outside legal spend.
By putting the right tools and processes in place, she’s been able to demonstrate that even small teams with limited budgets can run a successful and cost-effective eDiscovery process.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly—Saving $1M in a Single Subpoena
But for any happy ending, there’s usually an unpleasant beginning. And there was in fact a particularly painful instance that ignited Worley’s change of approach to their eDiscovery process.
It all started with two almost identical matters involving subpoenas from regulatory agencies. Although both requests arrived at almost the same time, Worley’s team took a radically different approach for each of them:
They managed Matter A through outside counsel and their vendor of choice with little to no internal intervention. After several months of six-figure bills and no results, Thompson got involved—only to realize that the vendor had employed overly broad search terms that drove up the cost of review by 75%.
The cost of the matter ultimately exceeded $1 million, an amount Thompson now describes as “completely unnecessary legal spend.”
In contrast, Worley’s in-house team handled Matter B right from the start, working closely with the regulatory agency to refine the scope of the records requested. The team relied on Logikcull for every aspect of the discovery process, including:
- Issuing the legal hold
- Collecting relevant custodian and non-custodian data
- Ingesting and automatically processing files
- Data searching, syntax development, and refinement
- Reviewing for privilege and relevance
- Generating the final production
The result? Since they could manage every part of the process with their existing tool, responding to this subpoena didn’t cost Worley a penny in additional external spend. The case for managing eDiscovery in-house was made.
"Matter B didn’t cost us a penny because every facet of the discovery process was included in our Logikcull subscription."
A Lack of Bandwidth Doesn’t Exist with the Right Toolbox
According to Thompson, a lack of bandwidth is not a valid argument for any legal team that is serious about bringing down third-party costs.
To help other teams achieve similar results, Thompson shared her own toolbox, which includes several free services:
- Logikcull: Her number one discovery tool. She uses it for culling, searching, tagging, reviewing, and generating productions.
- Robocopy: Since she found out about this largely unknown Windows tool, Thompson hasn’t stopped raving about it. She uses it for data collection while keeping metadata intact.
- 7-Zip: A powerful tool to compress large files, which she can then ingest into Logikcull.
- PowerShell: Another Windows built-in tool. Thompson is able to locate relevant records by running commands in this program.
- MS365 legal holds tool: She leverages this security and compliance tool offered by Microsoft 365 to place custodians on legal hold and to preserve and collect both from OneDrive and Outlook.
An additional resource Thompson constantly relies on is Worley’s IT team, especially when it comes to complex collections from sources like MS365 or achieving high levels of compression for bigger files.
Staying on the Driver’s Seat: How to Escape Vendor and Outside Counsel Traps
Although she can now masterfully handle most matters in-house, Thompson has a long history dealing with vendors and spotting trapdoors that often make discovery costs go through the roof.
Here are some common practices she deems unacceptable—and unnecessary when managing the discovery process with a tool like Logikcull:
- The “uncompressed data” trap: According to Thompson, it’s pretty common for traditional vendors to issue statements of work based on the uncompressed size of data. This means that for a 25 GB zip file, you can end up paying for four or five times that volume, depending on the size of the uncompressed data after extracting it.
- The “pay for everything” trap: Another obscure billing tactic Thompson has encountered multiple times in the past, which consists of charging for each and every step in the process, even when there’s overlap between them, such as per-hour ingestion costs, per-page OCRing costs, per-page data analysis costs, etc.
- The “hosting fees” trap: This is actually the number one reason that has led Thompson to switch vendors in the past. The stored data you’re billed for month after month just because it takes a minuscule portion—and today ultra-cheap—of digital space.
"I've seen so many vendor bills where you need to pay so much per hour for the ingestion, a certain amount per page for OCRing; then you need to pay separately for analyzing the data, even though it’s been already OCRed. You don’t get those kinds of charges with Logikcull and you don’t have to accept them."
Worley’s legal team bases every decision on cost. With a typically overhead budget, it’s essential for the team to eliminate the unpredictability surrounding vendor prices. According to Thompson, Logikcull’s transparent pricing gives them much more control over their budget.
When it comes to having outside counsel manage your discovery process, Thompson has a strong suggestion, “don’t let them do it.”
In her view, as part of the in-house team, you are the best person to drive the course of your eDiscovery process. You should establish clear guidelines at the outset of the matter on how you will conduct the process, when OC will need to look at documents, which search terms will they use, and how to manage the review using your own eDiscovery solution.
No one has a better grasp of how your company speaks and behaves than yourself.
However, it’s not always easy to enforce a process like that. Your peers tend to ignore outside counsel guidelines and keeping everyone on the same page can be an arduous task.
Thompson’s current tactic at Worley is simple: She jumps on a brief call with outside counsel whenever discovery is anticipated in a matter to walk them through their own process and conditions. This is a good way to set clear expectations while preventing pushback as the case moves forward.
Stay tuned for the second part of this blog, where we'll share how Veolia is also debunking the lack of bandwidth myth by handling eDiscovery in-house. With a team of one.