Early case assessment refers to estimating risk (cost of time and money) to prosecute or defend a legal case. Global organizations deal with legal discovery and disclosure requests for Electronically Stored Information “ESI” via e-discovery and hard copy paper (printed or bound) documents on a regular basis.
Over 90% of all cases settle prior to trial. Oftentimes an organization will find they need or want to settle a case, for whatever reason, only to find they wish they did before they spent so much time and money on the case. Legal discovery costs are usually the most burdensome financially to both plaintiff and defendant.
Often, and during cases in the United States, an opposing party will strategize on how to make it as difficult as possible for you to comply with the discovery process, including time and cost to respond to discovery requests. Because of this, organizations have a continued need to conduct early case assessment to determine their risks and benefits of taking a case to trial without painful settlement discussions.
Many service organizations, law firms, and corporations refer to early case assessment differently. While there are many software-based tools available on the market, most software companies claim their software provides early case assessment. Consultants, also known as experts hired by the corporation or law firm on a case, manage cases on a risk basis.
Early case assessment is a managed process that requires customization for each case and the client involved. There is never any circumstance where the process can be managed by a single software with limited or no professionally managed process, although e-discovery software is important as a part of the process.
The early case assessment lifecycle covers:
1. Determining the risk of case win/lose;
2. Putting a legal hold on potentially responsive documents (paper and ESI);
3. Preserve information abroad;
4. Gathering relevant information for attorney and expert document review;
5. Processing potentially relevant information for purposes of filtering, search term, or data analytics;
6. Information hosting for attorney and expert document review, commenting, redaction;
7. Production of documents to parties in the case;
8. Reuse of information for future cases.
Early case assessment is the process used in litigation where risk is assessed in terms of cost of time and money for the prosecution or defense of a legal case.