What is Litigation Support? Vendor Management

Vendor Management

A career in litigation support encompasses multiple careers. This series of articles will describe how each plays a part in litigation support.

Overall, litigation support can be described as:
We assist litigators.
We speak and translate geek.
We work with litigation discovery, primarily in electronic format.

One of the careers within litigation support is Vendor Management. This responsibility has several proactive components. For instance, it is a good idea to meet with service providers during your slower workload periods. These meetings will include a discussion about their latest and greatest offerings and perhaps a software demo. It is our responsibility to keep up to date on the industry trends.

One important topic of discussion should be their pricing. The pricing discussion could (and probably should) turn into a negotiation. We usually have a handful of service providers that we rotate between. It makes it much easier on us if the pricing models are similar across our  preferred service providers. This enables us to give estimates “off the top of our head” to a partner if we have done our homework and preparation with the service providers ahead of time.

Another example of being proactive with service providers is regarding communication during a very active project. We should request status updates from the service provider before the attorney asks us for an update. That means we need to request status updates several times a day and then proactively share those updates with the legal team. This in turn will cut down on the amount of questions from the legal team because they will begin to expect your updates and will wait for them to arrive in their Inbox.

Vendor management includes knowing what the service providers offer in each of the service categories so when the need arises we know who to contact. It may also involve requesting RFPs from several service providers and providing a comprehensive apples-to-apples summary of services and pricing to the partner, who will in turn present it to their client.

Managing relationships with service providers can be stressful. There can be good times and bad times. Things can go wrong. Hopefully they won't. Remember to treat your service providers with respect — do not throw them under the bus with your legal team. It is your responsibility to hire quality service providers. Do your homework; get references from your colleagues.

During a busy project, the management of several service providers concurrently can get a little chaotic. Don't forget to document your requests in writing via e-mail so that you can refer back to them at a later date.

If you have any other tips for successful vendor management, please add a comment below.

 

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    • Greg Hudson

      Bravo!!! Great blog, Amy! You nailed the relationship aspect of working with vendors and keeping it real.

      • LitSuppGuru

        Thank you Mr. Hudson. I try.

    • Bid Discovery

      “It may also involve requesting RFPs from several service providers and providing a comprehensive apples-to-apples summary of services and pricing to the partner, who will in turn present it to their client.” – We’ve heard from a lot of lit support professionals that this is one of the most painful parts of the process, so we’re trying to make it easier!

    • Malcolm

      I totally agree with documenting via email. I always email my job requests to the vendor, itemizing exactly what needs to be done and when I need it back. This way, you both have something concrete to refer to if there are misunderstandings. Make it logical and in plain English so there are no issues and encourage them to call me with any questions or concerns.