Saturday, July 2, 2011

Lawsuit alleges law firm failed to properly supervise contract attorneys

Law firms routinely outsource costly and time-consuming document review work to temp agencies and discovery vendors who pay often inexperienced, wet-behind-the-ears law grads an hourly wage to do the work. This lawsuit is a reminder of how important it is that counsel of record properly supervise those temp attorneys.  From Above the Law:

Starting several years ago, McDermott represented J-M Manufacturing Company Inc. in a whistleblower suit. Federal and state investigators issued subpoenas that eventually led to disclosure of 250,000 documents. (Side note: That’s a quarter-million documents, after culling through zillions of irrelevant files. If that doesn’t encapsulate the crappiness that is e-discovery, I don’t know what does.)

But uh-oh, the firm didn’t do it right at all. From Corporate Counsel:

According to a lawsuit [PDF] J-M filed [June 2] in a state court in Los Angeles, McDermott produced too much — all because it did not thoroughly review the work of contract attorneys at e-discovery vendor Stratify Inc. J-M claims that 3,900 privileged documents were handed over to the federal government.

The feds gave everything to the whistleblower’s attorneys, meaning McDermott’s adversaries got almost 4,000 privileged documents. Not good. And now, the whistleblower’s attorneys won’t destroy them.

This case brings reality into contact with a few core issues that legal folk often rant about in the abstract.

First: CHECK YOU E-DISCOVERY VENDOR. Whether you like it or not, vendors are pretty much an unavoidable part of the e-discovery process. But nobody is quite sure how long of a leash they should give their service providers. After all, when push comes to shove, it’s the attorneys’ case, not the vendors’. If everything goes to hell, the vendor doesn’t get sued for malpractice.

You can read more here.


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