The Firms

October 19, 2010 2:17 PM

Grappling with the E-Discovery Monster

Posted by Irene Plagianos

It's the latest must-have practice group: an e-discovery team. According to staffing firm The Cowen Group, 87 Am Law 200 firms now have an e-discovery practice group or task force. But not all of them look alike.

As part of a special cover package on e-discovery, The American Lawyer's Litigation 2010 supplement looks at how three firms--Littler Mendelson, Drinker Biddle & Reath, and e-discovery boutique Daley & Fey--have built e-discovery practices.

Littler's e-discovery practice group is for internal use only, serving other Littler attorneys and their clients. The firm has also built a data center that brings e-discovery tools in-house. By contrast, Drinker Biddle's e-discovery task force aims for a broader client base, sometimes handling e-discovery issues even when Drinker Biddle isn't working on the underlying litigation. The boutique, Daley & Fey, focuses on litigation preparedness, advising companies on how to get their data management in order before they're sued.

But experts warn that, despite marketing claims, lawyers who are true e-discovery experts are rare. Not every firm will be able to provide the best litigators and tech-savvy attorneys.

Others in the industry emphasize that just having an e-dis­covery practice group doesn't mean that the entire firm has a grasp on e-dis­covery.

"The general goal for firms is to have a standardized approach to handling e-discovery," says George Socha, an attorney who consults on e-discovery matters. "They don't just need a practice group, they need every lawyer practicing e-discovery."

For more on e-discovery practice groups, click here.


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