Litigation support services offer help to lawyers preparing for complicated trials. When lawyers take a complicated case to trial, the process is long and arduous. Many details and intricacies must be addressed to follow the rules of the court and the proceedings. For some cases, the process of preparing for trial can last for months as the parties gather the evidence and prepare to present it. Attorneys are often focused on pulling together the legal arguments and preparing to present the case fully, so the tedious but necessary work of discovery and other supporting services needs to be given to other people. When these services are needed, firms will often send in litigation support services. The term is somewhat nebulous, but the basic assumption is the same—attorneys can rely on litigation support services to help them prepare for trial.
Litigation Support Services Explained:
Litigation support services is an umbrella term to refer to a variety of services that are taken on by businesses or professionals to aid in preparation for trial. These services are most often used in preparation for a complex litigation. They are often involved in data management and create databases to manage, sort, index, abstract, and coordinate the large amounts of data gathered in complex cases. Litigation support services include:
- eDiscovery: With current technology, many discovery requests are fulfilled through online technologies. Litigation support specialists are often tasked with creating and running tools to sort and categorize this evidence. These professionals are often knowledgeable about the discovery methods and strategies.
- Drafting: Some litigation support services offer drafting services. This can alleviate some of the pressure from lawyers to write certain documents needed for litigation so that they can focus on preparing for trial. This can include full drafting or templates that can be used over and over again for certain cases.
- Document Review: The flip side of drafting is reviewing. Litigation support services can aid attorneys by reviewing documents created by attorneys for spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, unclear language, or incorrect citations.
- Research: Some disputes require specialized research, whether that be legal research or other types of research. Outsourcing this research to litigation support services allows lawyers to save time and still learn about the issue in a case that will need to be presented.
- Subpoena and Citation Service: Many support service professionals specialized in subpoena and citation service, which takes some pressure off the attorneys handling the case. This can include serving hard-to-find witnesses or parties and ensuring that service is timely and legal.
- Presentation Technology: During trial, attorneys will need to present evidence, some of which are recordings and videos that cannot be printed on paper. Litigation support services can assist with creating and supplying the technology needed to present this evidence and ensure that the evidence will be presented fully and as needed.
- Record Retrieval: Discovery often involves large amounts of documents and occasionally an attorney will need to retrieve a record from an agency, which can be tedious and frustrating. Some litigation support service firms specialize in retrieving records from certain agencies.
- Technology Access: There is advanced software to help with certain aspects of trial such as forensic accounting, research, and other electronic databases for organization. Litigation support services can access this software and use it efficiently to aid in organization.
- Consulting: In a catch-all category, litigation support services can include consulting on an issue that an attorney is having with their case.
Types of Litigation Support Professionals:
Not only are there many different support services offered, but there are also many different positions that can be held in the litigation support field. These professionals are often specialists in their field and have vast legal knowledge. Many of these professionals must also have skills specific to their field. These professionals include:
- Court Reporters: Court reports are considered part of litigation support services. Court reporters listen to trials, hearings, and depositions and create a record or a transcript of the entire proceeding. These people need to be attentive, fast typists, and accurate.
- Trainers: If a firm is using a new type of software or database, there will often be a gap in knowledge while the firm learns the new software. Trainers will usually spend time in a firm helping everyone understand the software to allow everyone to talk full advantage of the software. These professionals are often skilled in IT and understand the processes that the software is assisting with to ensure that the firm knows when and how to use it.
- Project Managers: Project managers oversee all of the other professionals that a project requires. They must be organized and understand the importance of all the smaller projects. Project managers will need to be calm in stressful situations and be able to organize people effectively.
- Client Support Staff: Clients will often run into issues as they approach litigation. Whether it be clarification on a discovery request or software help, the client support staff will assist clients as they navigate litigation and help attorneys focus on their work. These professionals need to be excellent at consumer relations and should be able to prioritize issues as they come in.
- Technology Experts: With all of the new technology that support services offer, there need to be experts on each of the technology options that a services organization offers. This person will often need to be an expert on eDiscovery guidelines to ensure that the software complies.
- Database Administrator: Most litigation support services will have database administrators to help create and run the software on which the data received will be stored. Administrators will need to be creative problem-solvers and organized.
Benefits of Using Litigation Support Services:
Now that this article has established what litigation support services are, what kinds of services they perform, and what kinds of professionals are available, it will shift to focusing on the benefits of using a litigation support services firm. While using one of these services will often cost a firm money, the benefits that support services can bring will often make the service worth every penny. These benefits include:
- Efficiency: Allowing outside professionals to prepare, organize, and submit documents and discovery frees up paralegals and attorneys to accomplish their other tasks quickly and without distraction.
- Focus on Litigation: The freedom for attorneys to focus on other tasks allows them to prepare for litigation more thoroughly. The added concentration on litigation and crucial elements of the case will result in better litigation.
- Flexibility: By freeing up time in the law firm, the law firm may be able to take on more cases and more complex cases, allowing them to bring in more business.
- Expert Advice: While attorneys often understand the work that litigation support services offer, they are not skilled at the work and cannot become skilled. Support professionals offer experienced experts to complete the job efficiently and correctly. This can increase accuracy and reliability for a lot of projects.
- Less Liability: When legal processes are taken over by support services, they are often more accurate and more efficient than attorneys or paralegals who are already overworked. This results in fewer mistakes in the legal process and, in turn, less liability for those mistakes.
- Faster Service: Using professionals who are experts at their part of the legal process can increase the speed and precision of service and other processes.
- Support When Needed: While some firms may not need support services all the time, litigation support services may provide support as it is needed. This is lower than the costs of hiring someone full-time to fulfill these needs and allows flexibility to bring in an expert on the legal issue at hand.
- Fewer Costs: Similar to as-needed support, the costs of training and experience used to help train in-house teams in all of the services will likely be much more than the costs of hiring outside service providers.
- Database Access: Many of the litigation support services firms have access to databases that be cost-prohibitive to smaller firms.
- Better Organization: With the extra time spent on analyzing and organizing data, support services will often leave firms with easy to use and find data and will be invaluable as they move forward.
- Technology Access: As mentioned previously, support services may have access to software and hardware that some firms are not able to have on hand for discovery and trial presentation.
Litigation supports services are invaluable assets to many law firms as they tackle complex litigation and produce results for their clients. They offer a variety of services like the ones listed above and others and can help any firm struggling to complete the work needed for trial. The people working in support services are often experts in their jobs and have a vast amount of knowledge and experience that they can convey to their clients to assist them in their preparation. Litigation support services bring many benefits to firms that hire them, including decreased costs and increased efficiency of the entire firm. Adding litigation support services to a firm’s budget and plan can be one of the best and most helpful decisions a firm makes and ensures that a firm can better serve their clients.
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