The future of eDiscovery is increasingly DIY. Without control over discovery, data collection, and review, litigation teams spend more time managing overhead and less time focused on the specifics of each case. Not only does this pile on stress—and cost—it puts them at a disadvantage in many situations. But times are changing and, thanks to a rapid evolution in discovery technology and business models, more and more legal professionals have been empowered to take control of their discovery process. To do it themselves.
The advent of powerful, cloud-based eDiscovery tools has led to a decreased reliance on third-party providers for many in the legal industry, while easy-to-use software and 100% predictable pricing models have made great strides towards democratizing discovery.
As a result, law firms like Baker Donelson are reimagining their eDiscovery process to empower their trial teams. Without additional timekeepers and overhead, these attorneys can quickly and easily access their discovery data and begin review. It’s as easy as dragging and dropping files. Attorneys are empowered and client value is quickly maximized.
Corporate legal departments, too, are seizing on these changes to in-house eDiscovery. And as discovery comes in house, dramatic cost savings and increased internal expertise follow. That’s why Logikcull’s 2020 Corporate In-Housing Survey, for example, found that leading corporate legal departments handled 63% of their discovery process in-house today—a number they predict will grow to 76% by 2025.
Here are six ways you can take advantage of these developments, to reduce costs, realize quick ROI, improve outcomes and, well, save your eDiscovery process.
1. Don’t Settle Because ECA Is Too Expensive
It used to be that many small matters weren’t even worth the cost of early case assessment. Why spend six-figures on ECA with a vendor when the amount in controversy was about the same?
How times have changed. Today, if you can drag and drop, you can begin reviewing data quickly—often the same day that a project begins. And predictable, per-matter pricing means that run-away hosting fees or endless vendor line items won’t drive up your costs. When 60% of corporate in-house teams say settlement decisions are sometimes (38%), often (19%), or almost always (3%) influenced by discovery costs, savings on ECA can dramatically improve your litigation posture.
With the powerful simplicity of cloud-based tools, ECA is only a small fraction of the previous cost. If a bit of investigation and ECA can deliver facts and leverage, settlements can be reduced or avoided entirely. And if a majority of your matters are smaller, the cost savings can add up quickly.
2. Save Big $$$ by Sending Less Data to Review
For in-house teams, data culling strategies are both the most common and most effective cost control approaches. The same is true for law firms looking to maximize client value—and avoid unnecessary write-offs. With document review costs making up the bulk of total eDiscovery costs by far, accounting for 70% of total discovery spend on average, reducing the documents requiring eyes-on review can be an incredibly powerful cost-savings measure.
For immediate savings, think before you flip a matter over the wall to a vendor. Sending a matter to a vendor early on may be convenient, but doing that means sending potentially large quantities of documents for review—driving up the costs dramatically.
Cloud-based eDiscovery software like Logikcull allows you to process data automatically on upload. Automated deduplication can instantly reduce the number of documents requiring review—by 43% on average in one corporate case study. Further culling by date ranges, custodians, and keywords—strategies simple enough that almost any team can implement them—can further reduce documents requiring review. In some cases, document sizes can drop 90% or more before being sent to outside counsel.
3. Don’t Let Outside Counsel and Vendors Dictate Your Timeline or the Process
Three days to collect data. A week to ship and process it. Two days to tweak a search term or “promote documents to review.” If you’re stuck working on a vendor’s timeline—and paying dearly for it—you don’t have to be.
While vendors are a necessary convenience at times, too often counsel find themselves building in-house processes hard-wired to vendor schedules and idiosyncrasies. But ultimately it’s counsel’s responsibility to see that things get done, not the vendor’s—and much of managing vendors is worrying that they haven’t screwed things up.
The overhead is significant for a small team: different vendors, different project managers, different vendor software and systems, and billing systems, to name a few of the complexities. The net result is much more stress and less time to devote to the real issues of a matter.
Powerfully simple, cloud-based eDiscovery technology allows you to cut out the middlemen and start operating on your own timeline.
4. Simplify Data Collection By Uploading to a Cloud Service
Transferring data by physical media, such as DVDs, thumb drives, and the like, is common but unwise. Not only is it a management headache, it’s a major security risk. There are simply too many steps in the process of transferring physical media, and that presents the risk that something could be lost, stolen, or corrupted.
Instead of relying on risky and slow physical media, get data uploaded into a matter as soon as it arrives. Using a cloud service to upload data as it arrives takes the headache out of sending it to a vendor, waiting for receipt, and then hoping they didn’t misplace the data when you need it six months later.
Cloud-to-cloud integrations make the process even easier. Whether you’re handling messaging data from Slack, pulling documents from G Suite apps like Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Documents, or collecting data from online storage services like Box, cloud-to-cloud integrations allow you to move data from one location to your discovery software. No downloading. No uploading. And definitely no DVDs.
5. Jumpstart Your Analysis and Bring Institutional Knowledge to Bear
Vendors won’t find hidden gems like you can. The biggest disadvantage to working with a vendor may be the fact that the vendor doesn’t know the case like attorneys and staff within your firm do. For matters that don’t require advanced analytics—that is, all but the most gargantuan of projects—waiting for a vendor adds little value. In most matters, review and analytics merge and the greatest advantage comes from getting your team reviewing quickly.
Bringing processing and review in house allows you to begin your review within hours, offering a significant first mover’s advantage. In-house teams especially can bring their institutional knowledge to bear to move through documents even more quickly—your team knows what to look for and is much more likely not to overlook important details. Data can be examined by personnel who are informed with intimate knowledge about the case. And the raw data can be re-examined repeatedly–without the time and logistical expense of going back and forth with a third party.
6. Realize Six-Figure Savings Almost Instantly
Want to add “generated over $100k in savings” to your resume? Want to transform the discovery process from a drag on your client relationships to a significant value add?
It’s not that hard. Just stop paying vendors and hosting fees. Much of the eDiscovery industry, whether service providers or software, relies on a business model that is broken and unsustainable.
Monthly per-GB hosting fees are the clearest example of this. While data sizes skyrocket in even small matters, a hosting-fees pricing model means that costs will only go up. The more data you have, the higher the bill, no matter what. Meanwhile, that $30 per GB per month that you’re stuck paying costs providers less than 2 cents to store on the cloud. That’s a 1300x markup.
Eliminate those hosting costs for a predictable, per-matter model and you can easily realize massive savings. Take a 52-GB matter lasting 16 months, for example. (That’s the average matter size and duration for identified in Logikcull’s 2020 Corporate In-Housing Survey.) At $30 per GB per month, that’s a total cost of almost $25,000—and that’s just for the platform. With a per-matter model, that cost would be just over $5,000 for the lifetime of the project.
That’s $20,000 in savings in just one matter, on the cost for eDiscovery software alone. Multiply that across your portfolio of matters, and add in savings from ECA and data reduction for good measure, and suddenly you’re realizing hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings.