Digital discovery legal services unit could fight crime

Updated: 2014-12-26 12:54

By Wang Hongyi in Shanghai(China Daily USA)

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An international digital discovery legal services platform has been introduced in China.

The platform is expected to help meet the growing needs among multinational companies for greater, more detailed regulatory, litigation and transaction data as a result of the country's intensified efforts against noncompliance.

This month, Shanghai-based MWE China Law Offices, in conjunction with its strategic ally, the US-based law firm McDermott Will and Emery, launched this legal and technical discovery data center to clients doing business in the region.

Digital discovery legal services unit could fight crime

The data center, first of its kind in China, will respond to challenges facing multinational companies in China for cross-border data transfers, proactive compliance audits, government investigations, whistleblower inquiries and other projects that demand rapid reviews of large amounts of electronically stored information. This digital platform will be operated and staffed by lawyers.

"Our clients have historically relied on multiple, non-law firm entities for document review work at exorbitant costs," said Leon Liu, partner at MWE China Law Offices, who is also responsible for opening and overseeing the center. "The data center changes that by consolidating document review under one roof and making it economical for clients with China-related operations."

"The demand for these services is increasing exponentially, yet, until now, the clients in need of those services had nowhere to turn," said Geoffrey A. Vance, partner and head of McDermott Discovery, the firm's in-house managed review services provider.

"My US and Chinese partners are eager to expand the concept to the Chinese legal market and are confident it will achieve the same level of success we've experienced in the US," he said.

Sources in the legal services industry said the demands for legal services on compliance from multinational companies in China have significantly increased in recent years with the Chinese government's intensified efforts against corruption, along with enhanced market supervision.

One typical case is the scandal of British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. The China branch of the company bribed medical staff in order to boost sales of its products.

It was fined 3 billion yuan by Chinese authorities this year.

The multinational companies in China have begun to watch their conduct in the market and look for more ways to manage the potential compliance risks, such as increase compliance staff and conduct more frequent internal audits.