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Companies around the world are increasingly wrestling with the challenge of managing big data in a way that responds not just to regulation, but also public expectations. When one organisation found itself subject to an increased volume of requests for disclosure from its customers, it recognised that simply throwing legal resource at the problem was not the answer. Instead, it needed collaboration between its lawyers and legal technologists to develop a new type of solution.
Under data privacy rules, individuals have the right to request access to and a copy of any personal data held upon them by any organisation. The profile and ease with which these Subject Access Requests (SARs) can be made increased significantly in the wake of GDPR, while the timeline for responses decreased. This has led many organisations to reconsider how they can meet their regulatory obligations without relying on slow, expensive and inefficient manual processes.
This was the challenge faced by our client. With data dispersed across multiple legacy systems, responding effectively to SARs was both a compliance challenge and major reputational risk in a sector which has been accused of using data to target and exploit vulnerable gamblers. Our concept was relatively simple: why not adapt the tools available for eDiscovery in the context of litigation and apply those to SARs?
Our concept was relatively simple: why not adapt the tools available for eDiscovery in the context of litigation and apply those to SARs?
We had to approach the whole problem differently. The end game was to enable an efficient way to review significant cohorts of data, provided in many different formats (emails, documents, graphics, excel spreadsheets, powerpoints - created on different systems and different file types) efficiently and cost-effectively.
Our approach to this challenge was original on three counts:
First, we are not aware of others specifically adapting eDiscovery technologies to SARs. Typically most exercises involve large teams of paralegals processing SARs manually, inconsistently and at significant cost. We wanted to embed a more appropriate mix of people, process and technology.
Second, we partnered with KLDiscovery, the global legal technologies consultancy, to help it adapt its eDiscovery platform to meet the specific needs of the client. Setting aside commercial self-interest required a high level of trust and collaboration across all three parties to achieve the right technical solution for the client.
Third, we developed a number of pricing models: subscription where the volume is high enough over long periods of time, or pricing based on volume of data. This broke with established models in the eDiscovery market (i.e. hourly rates or 'fee per seat' on system access). This drives far-greater predictability and value for the client.
Our client has since processed some 50 SARs using the Pinsent Masons/ KLDiscovery solution.
The average cost of processing a SAR has dropped from c. £40,000 per response to £4 - 8,000. The average size of document bundle has reduced in size by c.50% and contains less duplication, meaning that paralegals can spend more time on tasks that add value.
Our client now has the ability to respond to complex SARs in a reasonable timeframe, at a reasonable, predictable cost - and in a way that allows legal spend to be directed at the issues that add value for the business.
Now that, with Pinsent Masons help, the client has built up its own internal resource to support on SARs it has moved to a direct subscription license with KLDiscovery directly, achieving even greater savings due to the upfront commitment.
This solution has since been rolled out across a number of clients in a range of sectors.