of in-house consultants, sits at the Electric
Insurance Company in Beverly, MA, a financially
consolidated affiliate of GE. Its members
provide advice to business teams and outside
counsel at the beginning of discovery matters
on the optimal strategy and approach for
collecting, processing, searching, reviewing,
hosting, and producing documents; and offers
project management to ensure fast, efficient
matter launches and training.
“We are rigorous about the case kickoff that
brings everyone together to talk about the
basics, set expectations about budgets and
communication, as well as create a shared
understanding of the impact of the timeline,”
Once underway, the work is guided by
standardized protocols and work streams,
as well as key templates that ensure consistency. The team’s project management
skills and sophisticated internal document
review operation mean that discovery can
be conducted internally, reducing reliance on
outside counsel. A new policy has eliminated
almost all first-level document review by law
The Discovery COE developed enterprise-wide global master service agreements and
statements of work for ease of contracting
with vendors. They initiated and ran a selection
process to establish a single panel of outside
vendors that provide all discovery services to
GE. This has saved hundreds of hours in one-on-one contract negotiations and reduced
time to set up new matters with vendors by
78 percent. In 2015 alone, 96,340 hours of
document review were shifted away from law
firms to the vendor panel.
When outside counsel does become involved,
they have been trained in discovery protocols
that improve communication and promote
repeatable best practices. Each panel firm has
a Discovery Point of Contact (DPOC) at the
partner level, who is responsible for overseeing
GE discovery work. A set of discovery task
codes tailored specifically to capture key spend
metrics allows the Discovery COE to gain deep
insight into spending and resource allocation.
That spending has declined considerably
since the Discovery COE was established at
the beginning of 2013. In its first year, savings
exceeded initial projections by 500 percent;
they continue to average 25 percent year-over-year since 2013.
While in a multi-national conglomerate business
structure, one would think that getting varied
businesses to utilize the Discovery COE would
be a challenge. Pepper and her team leveraged
an internal education process to spread the
word about the Discovery COE and its capabilities, and the change management process was
supported by corporate culture. But the real
proof was in the results.
“People are not required to engage with us, but
they are required to follow the protocols. At GE,
value speaks for itself. We sat down with people
to discover their pain points, and designed
our program to address them. Once people
try it, they keep coming back,” Pepper says. In
fact, the Discovery COE has seen 400 percent
growth in clients since inception.
Pepper also reports greater budget predictability through the increased use of AFAs and
use of authorization amount limits in SOWs.
“We’ve done a lot of experimentation with
value levers as we seek to understand what
value is,” she says. “It’s not just about rates.
There is artistry in all of this.”
An accomplishment to convince diverse, separate businesses to opt in
to a centralized resource. The value proved the model.