Insights From The Inevitable: Predicting the Unpredictable: Innovative Approaches to Cost Management
VP of Revenue
“One of the things that we've seen over the past five to ten years, if you look across most Fortune 500 companies, is not only a desire to reduce certain cost centers, but also how to make sure that they're more predictable year over year. Legal, for a variety of reasons, has sometimes broken that model and been less predictable.”
On December 10, The Inevitable 2020 series presented Predicting the Unpredictable: Innovative Approaches to Cost Management.
- Senior Director, Legal Counsel Pam Schieffelin leads Qualcomm’s discovery management organization. Prior to joining as Legal Counsel, she was an attorney with AmLaw 100, Greenberg Traurig. Pam received a B.A. in Archaeology and Anthropology at Cornell University and J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law. She Clerked for the Massachusetts Superior Court.
- Matt Davidson has an indelible passion for data and a deep understanding of technology. As Director of Client Relations, ProSearch, Matt drives process innovation and technology solutions. Prior to joining ProSearch, he was a member of the Qualcomm Discovery Management Organization. Matt received his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Minnesota and his M.B.A. from the University of California, San Diego.
- Moderator Karan Kunjur, Text IQ's Head of Revenue. He leads go-to-market and operational execution activities and is focused on developing the best end-to-end journey for Text IQ's customers to address the next generation of challenges faced by leading enterprises. Prior to joining Text IQ, Karan was with The Boston Consulting Group. Karan holds an MBA from the Institut Européen d'Administration des Affaires (INSEAD).
As those in industry know, litigation is not highly predictable. It is subject to “peaks and valleys” and matters themselves can take on unanticipated dimensions in size and scope. “How much data you have, number of employees familiar with the matter [“custodians”], what is at risk in the lawsuit, and the amount of controversy, all play a role," notes Ms. Schieffelin. This is particularly true of large corporations like Qualcomm.
Unpredictability in the Transactional
Matt, a trained project manager, routinely focuses “on scope, time, cost, quality, procurement, integration, communication....But when I look at that,” says Matt “and compare it to all the work we do in discovery, it’s hard to manage any of those.” Adding to this complexity is the need to manage multiple stakeholders (vendors, law firm(s), inhouse teams, and plaintiff) in an environment where information, and consequently your response to it, is constantly changing.
“Part of my responsibility when I was at Qualcomm was to predict the budget...how many custodians? What's our average gigabyte per custodian? How long do we think this matter is going to last? Build in some variation...manage to plus or minus 40%...and kaboom. Every three months it would blow up and we'd have to go have the conversation with finance.”
As Matt notes, a key issue was attempting to budget at a transactional level – at the matter level. What was needed was to aggregate to the portfolio level to compensate for project-level variability and provide some predictability.
Predictability in the Aggregate
“The more you work together, the more you develop a lot of ideas about how best to do it...then you're also not reinventing the wheel every time an issue comes up.”
"Understanding your litigation profile is critical," notes Pam. “Really focusing on your data points and understanding exactly what your litigation profile consists of and where you need expertise... and building relationships with the law firm (or firms) in those areas.” Importantly, Pam advocates “working with a specific team at the law firm to build the knowledge, build the experience, and build comfort with the witnesses that you call upon time and again.”
Building knowledge over time and developing these working relationships creates process consistency across matters and that enables greater predictability. “Once you're there, you can start thinking about repeatability... as much as possible to create the consistency, because consistency is going to lower cost over time and create some of that predictability,” says Matt.
Predictably Better Results
“Winning the hearts and minds of lawyers everywhere.”
Matt and Pam have a great discussion regarding their relationship as (Qualcomm) client and (ProSearch) service provider and how this approach has created greater predictability, not only in budget, but outcomes.
“It's not just the solution engineering. It's codifying into a repeatable and defensible processes because that is winning the hearts and minds of lawyers everywhere” says Pam. “I don't want to do it in just one case. I want to carry it through so that every case gets the benefit.”
Matt and Pam agree that leveraging technology is essential to this new paradigm of which AI plays a significant role.
It is a core value at Text IQ to separate signal from noise in AI and its application to critical e-discovery workflows. The Inevitable Series was designed to make available expert opinion and experience from the corporate legal, law firm, and scientific community to do just that. We are excited about our lineup for 2021 and hope to see you here.
Until then, Happy Holidays and happy New Year from The Inevitable Series team!