As any Multi-District Litigation is coming together, cases are being filed and transferred, the court’s liaison counsel are selected, and individual parties are evaluating their litigation strategies. No one wants to talk about buying technology.
Unfortunately, because of the rapidly evolving technology landscape, the appropriate time horizon for determining these issues is harder to determine than ever. Do parties want to plan for the next three months, the next five years, or potentially a decade?
Many of our Multi-District Litigation customers are currently managing matters that were initially filed in the late 1990s. Multi-District Litigation has an extended shelf life, with in-house and outside counsel frequently changing over the years. Given that fact, ignoring the technology conversation can destroy your ability to manage a matter many years down the line.
Make Technology Decisions Now
In the initial stages of the litigation, there is generally a lack of consensus among outside counsels and end-clients regarding the return on investment of a dedicated technology infrastructure. At the outset, the discussion often includes only non-technical staff, none of whom want to be be on the avant-garde of technology decisions. But the financial and political reality of Multi-District Litigation is that a lack of consensus to move forward is often sufficient to prevent any progress from being made.
This is perhaps the single most significant issue senior litigators can address to substantially improve the overall technology strategy on the case. Even if the decision is to stand pat – which is rare given the risks – at a minimum consensus must be reached regarding the exposure points going forward in the litigation.
One-Size Does Not Fit All
Senior counsel must note that the technical infrastructure required to fully support an Mult-District Litigation is generally beyond the capabilities of existing infrastructures within a law firm or corporation. Defending ‘the way we’ve always done it’ is not an appropriate solution for managing data volumes in an Mult-District Litigation. The only workable solution is going to have to be flexible and adaptable, and certainly cannot be limited to the same clunky databases most firms rely on for in-house data management.
Simply put, the volume of data and complexity of the challenges will overwhelm even the most sophisticated law firm or corporate legal IT department, and a great deal of time and effort can be wasted in an effort to home brew a solution. Once members of an Mult-District Litigation can convince co-counsels that technology decisions need to be made before the data begins to be processed, the trick is finding technology that will work for all parties.
This week, we will discuss the conversation co-counsels must be having, and the ways to overcome the inherent risks in managing any Mult-District Litigation.