McDermott Will & Emery LLP: A Law Firm Records Management Case Study

Topics: Govern Information | Law Firm Information Governance

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McDermott Will & Emery LLP: Law Firm Records Management Case Study


Dispersed holdings across multiple vendors prevent a cost-effective, compliant and consistent records management program.


Iron Mountain Law Firm Solutions


Consolidating To Take Records To The Next Level

McDermott Will & Emery, an international law firm with more than 1,100 lawyers around the globe, has more than 75 years of experience serving its broad range of client interests across all industries, which include health advisory, corporate and commercial, tax, private client, labor and benefits, competition, intellectual property, and regulatory counsel.

The Challenge

With offices throughout the world, McDermott’s records and information management (RIM) department was using multiple vendors and facing increasing costs. And with today’s stringent legal regulations, staying compliant and avoiding potential risk was becoming more difficult. According to McDermott’s Director of Information Governance, Brian McCauley, this landscape prompted the firm to re-evaluate its RIM program.

Contributing To The Bottom Line Through Consolidation

According to McCauley, managing costs and simplifying administration were key drivers for consolidating storage and destruction services with one service provider. By simplifying its administration process, McDermott no longer had to juggle multiple vendor contracts, processes, and relationships. McDermott worked with Iron Mountain's records management consultants to develop and execute an efficient plan for moving its assets from prior vendors in a timely manner, never losing a step on accessing what was needed during the moves to ensure that attorney productivity was not impeded.

“When we laid it out on paper and looked at it, we thought it would take four years to move all of the assets,” said McCauley. “We ended up completing the entire project in a little over two years, thanks to the great implementation team at Iron Mountain.”

Iron Mountain’s Law Firm Information Governance Symposium laid the ground work for me to begin to re-engineer my records program and staff towards the Information Governance practice group we are today.”

-Brian McCauley, Director of Information Governance, McDermott Will & Emery LLP

Additionally, having the ability to query for pertinent documents gives McDermott an elevated level of understanding of what its holdings are, what its actual inventories are, and the ability to do it from single points of entry, anywhere in the enterprise. And according to McCauley, that is essential.

“To me, it cannot be overstated enough that very large law firms with multiple site repositories need to use an online ordering system,” McCauley said. “Iron Mountain’s IM Connect simplified our ability to query in one database. It provides vital statistics on assets that we’re managing in terms of which are eligible for destruction, which are being preserved under legal hold requirements and the specifics under each of those.”

After consolidating all of its holdings, the firm gained more control and visibility into its inventory, leading to faster location and delivery of the legal documents needed by an attorney or team. Additionally, through this consolidation, McDermott was able to reduce 70 percent of one office’s storage footprint by storing assets with Iron Mountain, allowing for a more productive use of that space. Iron Mountain also made it seamless for McDermott to make the transition from multiple vendors to just one.

Transforming The Records Team

Once all of its assets were consolidated under one roof, and easily queried across the enterprise using Iron Mountain Connect, McCauley was ready to execute on another piece of his vision: transforming his team into information governance (IG) professionals. The team has gone from primarily focusing on paper records, to helping the firm adapt to ever increasing regulatory requirements and risk management needs.

Now named the Information Governance Practice Group, its responsibilities include lifecycle management of paper and electronic assets, legal hold processes for firm matters, matter mobility, execution of disposition, and compliance policy development and implementation. McCauley foresees continued retooling of staff technical capabilities and new leadership roles to drive IG awareness across the firm as the future for his team.

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