FROM EUROPE: the surge in litigation/compliance review, and outsourced legal work

by Gregory P. Bufithis, Esq.
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6 May 2011 – I settled in Brussels about seven years ago (I hold several nationalities and am fluent in several languages) after a career in the U.S. in intellectual property law (with which I am still deeply involved) and a number of years in the e-discovery world, on the subjective review side of the EDRM. My perspective has been that side of the process: providing corporations and law firms contract/temporary attorneys for review and other substantive tasks.

Project Counsel Europe was born a little over four years ago. Our initial work was subjective document review for U.S. law firms in Brussels, and then London, and then Paris, and then Luxembourg and then Frankfurt, and then … well, we grew. We now have a document review center in London and one in Paris, and offices in five European countries. Having “boots on the ground” across Europe we have been able to service a multitude of clients for various projects (almost all of our work today is for corporations) and we have been able to follow European developments in e-discovery, search, semantic technologies and analytics and cover such events as the IQPC Exchange on e-Discovery in Munich, LeWeb in Paris, and software developers’ conferences.

Over the last few years I have had an opportunity to see up close EU data privacy issues, the growth of in-country subjective document review, the growing “matrix” of regulation-compliance-litigation work, and the explosion of intellectual property litigation — either as Project Counsel providing attorney teams, or via my U.S. company The Posse List that assists U.S. corporations, law firms and staffing agencies in finding temporary legal review teams that often have a multi-national/multi-lingual component. I have been involved with: the air cargo transport cartel investigations by the DOJ and DGCOMP with data across 8+ EU countries and the US; the Merck and Monsanto litigations and regulatory investigations across the US and EU; the Federal-Mogul bankruptcy which lapped the US, UK, Germany, Italy; and the infamous Siemens case which lapped the US, UK, Germany and Africa.

Oh, and the granddaddy: the Parmalat investigations and litigations which seemed to take in everybody. That was my first exposure to EU data/privacy and in-country review (Italy). But that case has been usurped by the US/EU investigation(s) of Google which has already prompted in-country reviews in the UK, France and Germany.

But the most interesting case has been the Societe/Kerviel case in France which wrapped up last year (we staffed part of the discovery case and also followed it through the courts) which ran the gauntlet of legal and technical implications of collecting and processing data in the EU, audit and compliance. For our full analysis and coverage of the Societe/Kerviel case (in English, French and German) click here (see article below for link).

Side note: and for my views on those (infernal) differences between e-discovery and e-disclosure (with links for versions in French and German) click here (see article below for link).

So in the past 4+ years Project Counsel has completed numerous subjective document reviews in Brussels, Frankfurt, London, Luxembourg, and Paris. But the work has expanded to include numerous special assignments such as transfer pricing enforcement reviews (authorities are developing greater sophistication in their audit practice, while coming under pressure from embattled governments to increase overall tax revenues), real estate contract work, corporate housekeeping, research & writing projects for numerous legal authors, and RFP work for corporations responding to EU institution requests.

Standard document review work continues to surge across the whole continent. Epiq Systems, Huron Consulting, and UNIFIED have all opened document review centers in London, with at least two other large e-discovery companies slated to open centers before year-end. And why not? Based on feedback from London-based members of my sister company The Posse List there are 12 significant (10+ reviewers) document reviews in London right now at law firms, vendor review sites, and corporate client locations with many more to come (see more on this below).

Note: but despite all these state-of-the-art document centers, one interesting trend: the Las Vegas rule (“what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”). Or to put it another way: Elvis is NOT leaving the building. The data ain’t leaving the premises. More and more the client wants the work done on their site.

What explains this surge in work? If I didn’t loath the cliché, I might call it a “paradigm shift” (truth be known, I use the phrase a lot). But there has been a shift, a change in both volume of work, and attitude, due to several factors.

Please see full article below for more information.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Gregory P. Bufithis, Esq., Project Counsel SCS | Attorney Advertising

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