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Local Copy Shops in the New eDiscovery Paradigm

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Local Copy Shops in the New eDiscovery Paradigm

Historically, small to medium sized local Litigation Service Providers built very lucrative and sustainable business models around providing dependable and personal paper copying and imaging services for their local legal markets. Friday morning Doughnuts for the paralegals, golf outings for the partners, an occasional tradeshow boondoggle for the associates, and great Christmas gifts for everyone was the magic formula for maintaining these relationships in a market where there wasn’t any hope of developing any type of key competitive advantage beyond owning the relationship.

There was, for a time, some amount of success for national players entering the local markets using what they believed were economies of scale. This assumption has long since been proven false. And, recently, some of the more successful local providers have played their exit strategy cards by either merging with or selling out to regional rollup players. However, at least for now, these small to medium sized Litigation Service Providers still own the local markets.So, how are these providers going to react to the new eDiscovery Paradigm? Or, of even more significance to the long term and continued success of these providers, how are their clients going to react to their lack of ability to offer viable solutions in the new eDiscovery Paradigm? During the copy boom years, it wasn’t too hard to offer a quality product. And, even with the advent of imaging, it still didn’t take a rocket scientist to offer a quality product. However, now these providers have a whole new set of issues driven by changes in the rule of civil procedure at the both the federal and state levels along with all of associated and required technologies. Of even more concern is the fact that mistakes and quality control issues can now lead to sanctions or worse for the litigator and its partners.

As a result, Friday morning doughnuts can no longer be the determining factor in who firms choose to complete its litigation services work. It’s now a matter that can be at the very heart of a firm’s success of failure.

As any successful business strategist knows, “turmoil creates opportunity”. So, I believe that there are some tremendous opportunities in this market and a result there are going to be some big winners and some big losers.

In the coming weeks, I will be posting my impressions of how these dramatic new requirements from the new eDiscovery Paradigm will affect the small to medium sized local Litigation Service Providers, who I believe will survive and who I believe will not and what I think the magic formula is for continued success in this market. I would encourage anyone reading this Blog with any opinions and/or stories regarding the future of these providers to submit them for inclusion in my report.

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