Insights From The Inevitable: Challenges & Opportunities of Fortune 500 eDiscovery Leaders

Insights From The Inevitable: Challenges & Opportunities of Fortune 500 eDiscovery Leaders

On September 3rd, Text IQ hosted a conversation that included e-discovery experts from three multinational corporations as part of The Inevitable 2020 Series. It is a frank discussion that sheds light on both the challenges and opportunities attendant to managing discovery in large organizations.

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Our panelists:

  • Paul Noonan, E-Discovery Counsel for United Airlines. Paul has been working as an in-house eDiscovery attorney for Fortune 500 companies for the past 14 years during which time he has managed high-profile, complex matters including GM’s Ignition Switch Litigation.
  • Novartis Global Director of eDiscovery, Jeffrey Salling. Jeffrey is also an Adjunct Professor of eDiscovery at the University of Illinois at Chicago, John Marshall Law School for which he developed his own curriculum.
  • Jack Thompson is Assistant Director Global eDiscovery & Legal Operations at Sanofi. Jack is also a Board member of the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA), contributing member to the American Corporate Counsel Legal Operations (ACC) organization, and faculty for several eDiscovery, Innovation, and Legal Ops professional community groups.

Old Challenges Made New

The reality of finite, often constrained resources, battling for budget, and the need to prioritize for the challenges immediately in front of us is status quo in organizations large and small, and certainly nothing new.

In March of 2020, things “changed overnight” recalls Sanofi’s Jack Thompson.

“Old challenges became important challenges, and they became forefront.” With everyone working from home there were significant information security measures that needed to be implemented regarding how information is shared, stored, transmitted received, safeguarded retained. “We had to reprioritize resources.”

The new methods of collaborating (e.g., Slack, MS Teams, Zoom), required new interdepartmental collaborations as well notes Paul Noonan. And, presented new opportunities. Long simmering issues regarding data preservation policies (including data destruction) became new again.

“It forced us all to actually have to deal with it, to put defensible preservation behind it. I've found myself working with our information governance person far more than I ever would've thought I would have before.” ~Noonan

Novartis’ Salling concurs. “We are collaborating now with records management, information governance, and data security compliance. There's just so much more cross-collaboration now."

Renewed Focus + New Technologies = New Opportunities

“There were a lot of efficiencies and we are showcasing to our upper management where we potentially can make some significant changes and build a new sustainability.” ~Salling

We're speaking with our partners to say, “you have to be value-add, but you also need to tell us where we can get better. Like, what you guys are doing with Priv IQ to be able to identify privilege," says Salling. “We need the better AI tools because I can't just search ‘three-two-four sequences’ to get private information out of Germany, or to get Swiss privacy or business secrets out of Switzerland.”

United Airlines’ Noonan agrees, noting that with the “broad-based experience” you get using AI, “it becomes pretty clear where it can benefit...I have had occasion to make use of [AI] in an internal investigations capacity...with very good results. It starts to open your mind to the other applications that there may be.”

Thompson offers critical advice to legal services vendors and law firms when coming up against pushback on spend:

“I think you should invest in this because this is probably our problem. This is our problem. Here's how you can fix it for me, or here's how I want you to fix it for me. And you usually get a lot of positivity and collaboration with that." ~Thompson 

Salling sees this as especially relevant to artificial intelligence and details the numerous benefits AI tools like Priv IQ bring to the table when it comes to privilege review or redaction of PII. He notes:

  • cost reduction
  • speed
  • risk mitigation, and
  • consistency in bulk redactions.

“Sometimes it's hard to push for the new,” says Noonan, “when it requires somebody to learn something new and have an understanding so they can defend it, but it's often worth it when you consider that the old is so problematic itself.”

Watch Challenges & Opportunities of Fortune 500 eDiscovery Leaders here.

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