Organizations that receive, process, and respond to large volumes of 3rd-party subpoenas and other information requests often are challenged by not having an established end-to-end workflow and controls-based approach.
Here are five tips to consider when developing or assessing your subpoena processing strategy:
The subpoena intake process might begin with your registered agent. If you do not have a registered agent, are physically receiving process or other requests at multiple office locations or performing a lot of manual data entry of information, you likely are looking at a cumbersome, costly, error-prone process.
Consider streamlining your intake process and integrating it with your service of process (SOP) registered agent. Also consider the use of an online portal whereby an issuing party can submit subpoena information directly, minimizing delays and the cost and risk of errors associated with manual data capture. Your objectives should be to ensure the timely receipt of process, confirm necessary data points are accurately and consistently entered, and reduce the number of duplicate documents being served. Doing so will also support more accurate reporting.
Establish an Efficient Workflow
Depending upon the nature of the inquiry, a request may need to be sent to one or more departments to compile and review the documents necessary to complete a response. The lack of an established workflow causes delay and inefficiency. This is especially true where a company has a complex organizational structure and consistently high subpoena volume. A sound response workflow is essential.
Develop a workflow that wholly addresses your subpoena response process from intake to production and payment. Consider utilizing tools that efficiently and accurately route matters based on subject matter or the urgent nature of the response. Every step that you currently execute manually– capturing subpoena metadata, tracking deadlines, generating invoices, creating external media and preparing shipping materials, tracking payments–is an opportunity for your team to improve. A purpose-built system automates data capture, tracking, invoicing, and delivery.
Finally, consider engaging an alternative legal service provider (ALSP) like Integreon to help design an efficient, compliant process and workflow.
Ensure Secure Data Delivery
Outmoded and insecure data transfer methods continue to be a challenge for subpoena response teams. Many are still shipping responses on external media that could actually be in violation of company security protocols. Tools such as Safari SecureShare™ can deliver documents via a secure online portal and adds an extra level of security with two- factor authentication for an issuer to access documents
Recover your Costs
Organizations often have shared that they do not recover subpoena response costs because they are unsure of how much to bill or there is no process in place to consistently enforce, collect, and track payment. Inefficient processes to track collections prevent you from sending accurate reminders of nonpayment.
Simply sending a request for payment with your response documents will not likely yield the best results. Instead, consider using a tool that will auto-generate invoices and ensure cost recovery with a paywall that allows document download only after payment is received.
Track your Metrics
It is impossible to measure operational efficiency and control costs without accurate reporting. Consider which data points are vital to your overall reporting and ensure your SOP or matter management platform is set up to capture them. Issuers, types, subject matter, numbers handled, turnaround times, subpoenas per employee, cost recovery– these and other metrics are fundamental to managing your team and telling your story in an effective way.
Foundationally, ensure your key metrics are captured and reporting occurs on a consistent basis. Infrequent tracking and reporting could result in response delays, subpoena backlogs, staffing issues, mismanaged workloads and even lost revenue. Frequent tracking and reporting will place your organization in the best position to identify and address risks, demonstrate your response team’s value, as well as showcase what you must do to make subpoena processing a net neutral or revenue- generating activity instead of an ordinary cost of doing business.