In the legal system, discovery is the legal process governing the right to obtain and the obligation to produce non-privileged matter relevant to any party’s claims or defenses in litigation. eDiscovery is that process applied to electronically stored information (ESI), such as emails, computer files, and databases. In other words, it is the legal procedure by which parties are required to exchange information and evidence with one another in state and federal courts.
eDiscovery software, also known as document review software, such as Logikcull, allows legal professionals to handle electronic documents in discovery and investigations. Such tools automate common discovery steps such as data ingestion, file indexing, OCRing, virus scanning, and more, preparing documents to be reviewed and produced.
Once data is loaded into a platform, legal teams can begin reviewing the data, creating searches to find documents, sorting information by metadata fields such as creation date or document author, and tagging files as responsive, nonresponsive, by subject or legal element, etc. Discovery software can also drastically reduce the amount of documents requiring eyes-on review by allowing teams to quickly cull out extraneous files, such as duplicate files and information outside the scope of the review, to focus in on the most important data. Once data has been culled, reviewed, and tagged, discovery software can automatically Bates stamp documents, apply redactions, and create productions that can be securely shared with other parties.
Discovery software that is cloud-based has the added advantage of making it possible to upload, review, and produce documents online, without the delays, costs, and frustrations associated with eDiscovery approaches such as manual review, third-party vendors, or legacy software.
Electronic discovery is one of the primary ways of uncovering the facts in a dispute. In years past, parties exchanged paper documents—often hundreds and hundreds of boxes of them.
Over time, paper documents have been largely replaced with computer generated content, and the process of discovery was forever fundamentally changed.
ESI can now be email, social media, cell phone data, digital audio or video recordings, global databases, apps, global positioning data, data stored in a household appliance, onboard computers in a car, or any of the thousands of digital records produced by an average person on an average day.
2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. That’s about 75 trillion pages’ worth of data.
That profusion of information has created a “golden age of evidence.” Today, legal professionals have access to more information about a matter than ever before. Information surfaced during eDiscovery can hold the key to a winning case or favorable resolution—for those who know how to find and review the data.
Today’s ESI is more than just email:
Before the digital era, document discovery was fairly straightforward. An attorney headed to her client’s office, identified the documents potentially relevant or responsive in a matter, hauled them off in banker’s boxes and reviewed the manually, one by one. Redactions were made with giant black pens. Bates stamps were applied with actual stamps.
Today, many attorneys still take a manual approach to eDiscovery. Electronic files will be collected from clients and reviewed, one by one, in programs such as Microsoft Outlook and Adobe Acrobat, organizing their review in a giant spreadsheet. But even with a small amount of documents, this process is inefficient and ineffective. Review teams lose the ability to search against multiple files at once or to quickly organize information by metadata such as date, creator, recipient, etc. Indeed, such manual review may alter the documents, leading to potential spoliation. And even when done right, review teams are stuck reviewing huge amounts of unnecessary information—documents like spam emails or duplicate and irrelevant files that could otherwise easily be culled.
Imagine, for example, reviewing 10 gigabytes of email in tools such as Microsoft Outlook or Adobe Acrobat. At 3,000 documents a gigabyte, that’s about 30,000 documents requiring review. With manual review, attorneys are forced to work through these files individually, at a rate of about $250 an hour and a total cost of almost $200,000. Such expenses may be so high that clients simply refuse to pay for them. The resources needed to conduct the review would be so great that many firms just wouldn’t be able to handle it.
With the right eDiscovery software, however, that approach is no longer necessary. Smart filtering, such as limiting documents by date range or focusing in on only those containing specific keywords, could eliminate the need to review up to 95 percent of those documents. That leaves only 1,500 documents to evaluate. Assuming an attorney reviews 50 documents an hour, that’s $7,500—savings of about $192,000. When the discovery is done in house, rather than through eDiscovery vendors, that means lower costs to the client and more billable hours for the law firm.
And because this new era of eDiscovery technology is simple to use, almost instantly deployable, and charged on a pay-as-you-go basis, many of those law firms previously shut out from eDiscovery technology due to its cost or complexity are best positioned to take advantage.
Smart filtering, such as limiting documents by date range or focusing in on only those containing specific keywords can reduce the documents you need to review by 95 percent—saving almost $192,000 vs. manual review.
eDiscovery vendors are third-party legal service providers that aid in the processing, preparation, and production of electronically stored information during discovery. Under a managed services and managed review model, some vendors may also handle collection, review, and analytics as well.
eDiscovery vendors flourished as electronic discovery grew. Indeed, many vendors began as copy shops specializing in servicing law firm clients and expanded from there. Technologies originally designed in the 1980s were unleashed on ESI, creating some of the review platforms that are still with us today.
One widely-circulated report from 2011 estimated that “conducting an electronic discovery event may cost upwards of $30,000 per gigabyte”—or about 60 percent of the median household income at the time.
Consultants made their fortune advising law firms on how to approach massive discovery projects. Vendors popped up throughout the country, bringing needed technological expertise to the process, but nickel-and-diming users with $250-per-gig data ingestion fees and penny-per-page Bates stamping charges.
Vendors became famous for their inflated price tags. One widely-circulated report from 2011 estimated that “conducting an electronic discovery event may cost upwards of $30,000 per gigabyte”—or about 60 percent of the median household income at the time. It wasn’t hard to find million-dollar eDiscovery bills in high-profile litigation, with a sizable chunk of the discovery costs going to vendor costs like “near-line storage” and “hibernated sub collection fees.”
What is a hibernated subcollection fee? We don’t know either, but it could cost you $20,000-plus.
As discovery has evolved, it has moved from banker’s boxes to brick-and-mortar vendors to sophisticated, cloud-based eDiscovery software. Today’s eDiscovery processing software allows legal teams to automate thousands of steps, such as data ingestion, indexing, OCRing, virus scanning, and preliminary quality control. Cloud-based discovery software makes it possible to upload, review, and produce documents online, via the cloud, without the delays, complications, or expense of traditional eDiscovery services.
Modern eDiscovery software is worlds away from the legacy tools that were once common—or the overly complex, incredibly expensive discovery approaches that still are. Innovative design makes formerly difficult processes powerfully simple and easily deployable for legal teams of all levels of experience and sophistication. With 24/7 accessibility, on-demand help, predictable pricing, and the ability to grow your resources as you need them, today’s eDiscovery software can often be deployed in under a day—even in a matter of hours.
This automated, cloud-based process also allows for use cases well beyond traditional document review. In some organizations, compliance teams are using such systems to conduct internal investigations. General counsel’s offices are using it to move eDiscovery in-house, while finance departments utilize the technology to conduct tax audits. With the best eDiscovery software, any document-intensive project can be transformed from a potential burden into something as simple as drag, drop, done.
Years ago, many firms sought to reduce vendor costs by creating their own on-premises eDiscovery systems. These systems allow firms to bring eDiscovery in-house, but can require significant investment in software, hardware, and internal IT staff.
eDiscovery vendors emerged as electronically stored information first started working its way into litigation, initially as a small group of glorified copy shops and expanding from there. Today, vendors range from traditional “ship us the DVD” companies to managed services providers, who will collect data, process it, and manage an army of contract lawyers to sift through it.
The cloud has revolutionized discovery, allowing legal professionals to begin a project in minutes and conduct discovery from anywhere. Some cloud discovery services apply simple, predictable models. Others replicate the approach of traditional vendors, from line-item charges for easily automated process to per-project minimums and restrictive user fees.
Logikcull’s powerfully simple eDiscovery software eliminates hidden fees and puts you in control of your discovery process. It automates thousands of steps that vendors bill for, from deduplication to OCR’ing to metadata preservation.
Start a new project in seconds, search through documents as easily as using Google, and automatically categorize documents through dozens of filters—and keep costs under control, with clear, 100% predictable per-matter pricing or a customized subscription plan