Sheila Pierce, director and legal counsel at BlackBerry, recently spoke about eDiscovery: Corporate clients don’t like storing irrelevant data because it costs them money, and on the other hand, outside counsel lean toward preserving more data because they have to appear in court and deal with the opposing side.

“There’s always a tension between the client wanting to control the cost and the law firm wanting to be responsible,” said Pierce, who spent nine years as a litigator at Bingham McCutchen, at a Huron Legal Institute webinar on April 30.

She added, “I used to get a little upset when the clients weren’t so accommodating and ... it’s astonishing how quickly I’ve gone to the other side” since joining BlackBerry in August 2013.

Pierce said BlackBerry has implemented some policies to keep its eDiscovery costs down.

  • It faces a fair amount of patent litigation, so the company has cued up a set of documents that will be turned over in almost every case.

  • “BlackBerry likes to be in control of the data and likes as little data to leave the company as possible.”

  • Secondly, because it uses multiple outside law firms, it’s far cheaper to use a single outside vendor for document viewing than to pay law firms to create multiple internal platforms.

There has been some pushback from outside law firms, who want to house the data on their own server. “Sometimes you do feel like you are fighting your own outside counsel,” Pierce said. “In our billing engagement, it says that they have to use our platform. They can set up their own system, but they cannot bill Blackberry for it.”

Since using an outside vendor exclusively for document viewing, Pierce said she hasn’t heard any serious complaints about the system. One of the added bonuses is that the company uses the same team repeatedly. As a result, they’ve become more efficient at certain aspects of the discovery process, which has helped keep costs down.

That decision to use an outside vendor has been more consequential than some of the technological tools being discussed. Pierce said Blackberry does use predictive coding for in-house data review but not for outgoing data produced. "I can’t tell you how many times in the past year-and-a-half we’ve talked about ways we could use it,” she said. “In practice, I don’t see it being used as much as people may think.”

Illustration by Marlus B (Flickr/Creative Commons)