The COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying recession are forcing many law firms and legal departments to do more with less. In-house legal departments have seen their budgets shrink, while many lawyers have taken painful pay cuts and may face layoffs. The result: understaffed legal teams who are under extreme pressure to deliver results. Litigation support can help.
At the same time, unfortunately, workloads have spiked. The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a wave of litigation across practice areas, including:
- Bankruptcy: In May, Chapter 11 filings jumped nearly 50% year-over-year in the U.S. Both the initial filing and related insolvency-related litigation increase lawyer workloads.
- Contracts: Disputes over the applicability of contract clauses and defenses such as force majeure have driven an uptick in this practice area. More than a third of COVID-19-related litigation from March through early July was contract-related, according to a Lex Machina analysis.
- Commercial insurance: Many companies are contesting insurers’ claims that business interruption insurance does not cover closure due to a pandemic. The same Lex Machina analysis found that insurance was the second most common practice area involved in COVID-19-related litigation after contracts.
This influx of work has left many firms and legal departments swamped with litigation-related paperwork at a time when they’re already understaffed and under pressure. To weather the storm, your organization likely needs to ramp up quickly, while keeping costs low and operations lean. For many firms and legal departments, outsourcing managed document review and leveraging advanced technology will be an important part of the answer. These forward-thinking solutions can help your lawyers spend more time on case strategy, while reducing your organization’s overall costs.
Partner with an Alternative Legal Services Provider (ALSP)
An ALSP can reduce the burden on overloaded lawyers by handling rote or commoditized legal tasks, such as early case assessment and managed document review. When internal resources must be diverted to deal with a crisis, an ALSP supports business continuity without the need to hire additional staff. ALSPs enable lawyers to focus on long-term strategic decision-making, including financial planning for the business or firm — which is particularly critical in a recession.
In addition, many ALSPs have evolved beyond simple legal support to offer more specialized services such as litigation consulting, commercial strategy and tech-enabled analytic expertise. Technological evolution generally outpaces the legal industry, but tech enablement is perhaps the most important way ALSPs can accelerate legal work. Unlike traditional legal organizations that license a single tech solution for the long term, ALSPs often have relationships and expertise across various tools their clients can leverage without long-term investment. This enables you to select the right tool for each case, rather than relying on a one-size-fits-all solution.
The best ALSPs layer these tech connections and partnerships with strategic insights. For example, an ALSP might help a law firm establish a sound pricing strategy to ensure continued cash flow during a downturn, or help a legal department determine strategic priorities to future-proof its company’s business. The right ALSP for your firm or legal department should do more than just absorb excess workload — they should be a strategic partner that helps chart a path to long-term success.
Accelerate eDiscovery with AI-Based search
Reviewing discovery materials during litigation is a tedious, manual process, even when materials are digitized. And because 80% of lawyers still review digital eDiscovery materials using simple keyword searches, they may miss relevant documents that don’t include the exact word or phrase they’re searching for. The result: wasted time, gaps in information and frustrated legal teams.
The use of AI-based auto-extraction and contextual search tools makes review both faster and more comprehensive, helping lawyers develop stronger case strategies. These tools look for patterns related to keywords, not just keywords themselves, enabling them to identify relevant phrases, sentences and paragraphs that a simple keyword search may miss. The most advanced tools can answer complex queries in just milliseconds, extracting data from both structured and unstructured formats, and contextualizing it for easier analysis.
eDiscovery is just one application of this powerful technology. AI-based auto-extraction and contextual search can be used on any type of written material, from contracts to marketing collateral, increasing transparency and access to information across the entire business. An ALSP that offers tech-enabled litigation services can help you leverage these tools without additional costs.
Sink or swim: Litigation support services can be the difference
The future of the legal industry is agile, cost-effective and tech-enabled — and there’s no better time to start the transformation than now. With the recent influx of litigation, many lawyers have more work on their plates than ever before. Outsourcing commoditized legal tasks to an ALSP and leveraging AI-based contextual search streamlines operations and accelerates your processes — and it can be the first step toward future-proofing your organization against ongoing disruption. Contact us now to learn more about our litigation support services.