Legal MSP Develops Closer Vendor Relations
Managed services firms and e-discovery software companies continue to find common ground in the burgeoning legal market. We’ve written about D4’s work with e-discovery software houses and noted how some vendors derive more than half their revenue through service providers. Here’s another example: Falcon Discovery, which provides managed e-discovery services, has been solidifying its relations with a short list of software firms.
Don McLaughlin, founding partner and president of the Denver-based company, said his company has evaluated dozens of software products over the past six years. He cited Clearwell Systems, kCura, and Guidance Software as companies the company now focuses on. On the storage side, the company often recommends BlueArc, he added.
“These are the ones that are typically top of mind for us when we make recommendations to the client on which solutions provide the biggest bang for the buck,” McLaughlin said.
Falcon Discovery assesses how a client manages electronic information and recommends processes and technologies for improving e-discovery.
Typically, customers license the e-discovery software, with Falcon Discovery providing managed services. Those services extend to not only the e-discovery application, but to the entire e-discovery process. The company employs a team of attorneys who work alongside IT personnel. McLaughlin said the scope of work includes advisory and consulting services around process improvement and policy development, discovery planning and management, collections, custodian interviews, fact development and analysis, managed review, and production management.
The idea is to establish a repeatable discovery process, as opposed to the customer creating procedures for each legal matter that surfaces.
McLaughlin cited the maturation of Falcon Discovery’s relations with software companies as the most significant development in the last six months. Having closer relationships with a core group of vendors lets the company play a much more active role in product development on behalf of its clients, he noted.
McLaughlin said the company’s legal and technology teams heavily use the vendors’ software tools across all types of matters. As a consequence, the company often spots bugs and issues well before customers would identify such concerns. Falcon Discovery reports bugs to the vendors, often providing sample data and output files as evidence of software issues, he said.
The legal and technology teams also generate ideas for product enhancements.
“We typically have product engineers shadow our teams — either onsite or remotely — to understand what we propose in terms of enhancements,” he said.
Another upshot of close vendor relations: tighter integration.
“Additionally, this approach benefits our clients because we can more effectively integrate and optimize the use of the tools within our client’s discovery process and with the work its outside law firms,” McLaughlin said.
Software firms have something to gain as well: the ability to pursue more increasingly sophisticated projects.
“It’s more than just make a software sale and walk away,” McLaughlin said. “They realize if they want to be competitive on RFPs they need the service and support behind it.”
Software and managed services seem like a useful combination in e-discovery. One possible wrinkle, however, is the prospect of software vendors developing their own managed services. Symantec recently acquired Clearwell and while the deal focuses on technology integration, Symantec could conceivably offer managed services as it already does in the backup and security fields.
McLaughlin, however, believes Falcon Discovery differentiates itself in services, pointing to its ability to integrate a legal department’s repeatable e-discovery process with its outside law firms. Falcon Discovery helps customers define a standard set of processes and then collaborates with them to create guidelines for in-house and outside legal teams. On-site training involving both the legal department and external counsel aims to get everyone operating within the same process.