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Why controlling eDiscovery costs is possible

Jeffrey Wolff
Sep 4, 2018, 12:01:35 AM

Performing eDiscovery is basically writing blank checks.

Well, maybe not literally. But the way eDiscovery gets handled currently is pretty much boils down to the same thing. Case in point: your company gets a request for information. Whether that request comes via discovery in a court case or from a regulatory agency, there’s inevitably a short turnaround time for response. The first thing that happens to resolve the issue? Throw  resources at it. That usually means outside resources. At high hourly rates.

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Next Steps

What’s the next step? Dumping lots of data on those outside resources, guaranteeing them lots of billable hours. When a legal department approaches eDiscovery problems this way, costs can quickly spiral out of control. The myth driving this mode of operation is that giving all the data to outside resources is the best way to mitigate risk. To General Counsel, that’s the top priority.

And to a degree, that’s true. Coming up with responsive documents quickly can mean the difference between a favorable settlement and expensive sanctions. But taking control of the eDiscovery process not only cuts costs, it also improves results. That’s a result everyone, including General Counsel, can agree on. The “get it out of here to mitigate risk” part of this equation comes from an outdated view of eDiscovery: sure, eDiscovery tools used to be expensive, unwieldy, and user-hostile, with limited capabilities.

But the newest eDiscovery tools leverage artificial intelligence to do smarter, semi-automated data analysis. That means that, with a modicum of training and a minimum of expense, your company could have a small, highly-responsive in-house team ready to spring into action when information requests come in.

 

Culling information

That small response team can perform AI-driven analyses on your company’s data, eliminating obviously non-responsive documents quickly before handing the rest off to those high hourly rate consultants and counsel. How much culling could you do in-house? That first-level review could reduce the data set to be analyzed by as much as 90%. Handing off one-tenth of the data to an hourly-paid outside resource will be a lot less expensive!

Using Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) eDiscovery solutions means IT isn’t screaming for a blown-out budget to support the legal department. There are no internal servers to maintain. If your IT people define security standards tightly during the vendor selection process, your data is safe. eDiscovery accounts for anywhere from 20% to 50% of the total cost of a U.S. federal civil case. That doesn’t even include all the “soft costs” you incur, such as business interruption.

The data collection process can cost anywhere from $125 to $6,700 per gigabyte, and legal review of that data could cost from $1,800 to $30,000 per gigabyte. That legal review can add up to over 70% of the total eDiscovery bill. That’s a cost you’ve got to get under control.

 

Expecting the unexpected

Cutting legal costs is about intelligently examining data and only pulling in outside counsel (and their hourly rates) for tasks that require their specific expertise. As IT personnel is mostly concerned about the underlying technologies, while the legal department is focused on process. It's vital to ensure that the marriage of technology and process is successful, because that's what controls cost.

Find out how your company can leverage sophisticated eDiscovery tools to manage risk and still control eDiscovery costs by reading our latest whitepaper, “Expect the unexpected: how to control the hidden costs of eDiscovery”.