Vera Toppings, a partner in the litigation and dispute-resolution group in Toronto, says back in 2013, when the firm was wrestling with the explosion of big-document trials and how best to manage e-discovery, it narrowed down its options to building its own group or partnering with an existing provider. She says it quickly became apparent that building their own group would not be the most efficient way, partly because of the upfront investment needed, but also because of the ongoing costs of buying and constantly retraining its own people on quickly evolving technology.
In the spring of 2014, the firm put out a request for proposal and eventually signed a “managed-services” agreement with PwC, which came into force in the fall of last year. PwC has the technology capability as well as worldwide access to e-discovery experts for Fasken’s clients in Asia, South America “or anywhere in the world,” Toppings points out.
“Before, you’d need a whole team flying from Toronto to somewhere in Asia to do the data collection, you’d need translators — there’d be a whole symphony you’d have to create every single time. We have clients all around the world, and PwC operates all over the world. They have people on the ground who have the resources, the infrastructure and the language capabilities to assist our clients directly where they work.”
In arriving at a deal with PwC, she says, the firm negotiated a bulk rate: “The rates our clients are paying are far below what they’d be paying if they just went and scoped out providers each and every time. The goal was ensuring that the rates are significantly below what the market rate would otherwise be.” She also says Fasken’s clients aren’t bound by the PwC arrangement if they have an outsourcer they prefer, and that the law firm has a backup provider in place to handle conflict work, if needed, at the same PwC rate.