Is this an invoice, or Ridley Scott’s Christmas List?

“Since the advent of eDiscovery technology, the industry has skipped the fledgling Plymouth Rock stages and rapidly propelled toward the Wild West.  Many organizations that have had to go through electronic discovery proceedings have experienced the massive costs associated, largely because of lack of experience with eDiscovery matters and the inability to properly leverage the latest technology.

That ‘duh’ moment:

The front cover of the Wall Street Journal last week published a scathing report regarding additional fees passed on to corporate clients by their outside counsel. According to the news provider, it seems as though the corporate world is finally beginning to take a look at legal invoices with more scrutiny.

The Journal explained that the economic downturn and financial crisis led directly to businesses crunching numbers a bit tighter than before, assigning interns and temps to sift through massive service invoices to ensure the company should be paying for it was being asked to give. And, what probably gave these temp workers a serious laugh, led to a quite different response from corporate decision-makers in charge of balancing the budget.

“Clients are simply saying, ‘No More,’” the Journal asserted. The source pointed out that many of these invoices included charges for photocopies, legal research and haute cuisine.  An extra order of Le Agrumes and Terrine de Lievre Truffee for lunch passed onto the corporation is just the tip of the iceberg when you start looking at eDiscovery and legal document review expenses.  Whether enterprises were fine with these costs before the Great Recession began or simply did not know about them could never be known. Most likely, though, is that the vast majority of these charges were given more disguised names, coupled with corporate executives wanting to just get in their Rolls Royce’s, venture back to their gated community and drink a glass of 20-year-old scotch.

Well, wouldn’t we all prefer this to scanning lengthy, tumultuous invoices from companies who do things we’ve never heard of, yet we know they’re necessary?

Now, though, more and more of these individuals are being faced with a lesser delusion of grandeur – Toyota Corollas and Hooverville Estates – if they fail to properly manage their company’s finances. The Journal noted that this new-found vigilance with respect to legal costs is not new at all, as many companies started exhibiting stronger due diligence at the end of the 1990s.

The recession, though, bolstered the financial responsibility trend, as shoddy litigation service providers will now be hard-pressed to find a client that does not scour the bill looking for at least one unnecessary charge. The news provider did note that this is boosting accountability in the legal service provider industry and making these firms practice lean management, though when it comes to uncharted territory, such as eDiscovery needs, is the average company safe?

I believe you, but my Tommy gun don’t:

The short answer, is no, not even close, largely because the average company knows little or nothing about electronic litigation technology, compliance statutes and other matters important to these proceedings. This, again, is why vigilance and due diligence are incredibly important when deciding on a litigation solutions provider. While The Wall Street Journal pointed out some humorous and surface level issues in the legal sector at large, it didn’t even get into the other major issues currently at play in the eDiscovery industry.

Search for litigation solutions providers that treat transparency and guidance as top priorities, and there will be no cause for crying at the end of the day, nor the proverbial transformation into a giant green rage monster.