Why Your Small Firm Needs E-Discovery, and Where to Get It

17 January 2017 by Anith Mathai general e-discovery

In 2009, E-Discovery expert Craig Ball asked an important question.

He hypothesized a small-firm attorney named Edna, with a budget of $1,000 for e-discovery, and challenged vendors to provide a solution. He called it the ‘EDna Challenge’.

The software solution provided needed to:

  • Be affordable, easy to use, and able to handle multiple file formats
  • Have redaction features
  • Keep file metadata, and track de–duplication of files
  • Have an efficient workflow

In 2016, Craig Ball updated his EDna Challenge.

In the EDna Challenge: Part 2 (presented at the 2016 ACEDS conference), there were modifications:  

  • The budget was increased to $5,000
  • The review would take 90 days and the case would be active for 2 years.
  • The software would need to have simple tagging and production capabilities 

What did the EDna Challenges teach us?

The challenges had a phenomenal response. Even back in 2009, a number of software vendors and consultants proposed solutions. Some claimed that it was an impossible goal to achieve, some lowered their prices, and others proposed combining different pieces of software.

However, here’s what was clear (and still is): 

  1. E-discovery is not affordable for the majority of cases.
  2. E-discovery software is not easy to use for the majority of lawyers. 

Only in ‘Edna Part 2’ in 2016 was the affordability factor addressed, mostly by SaaS solutions coming in at around $4000-5000; with one company at $2205 and GoldFynch at almost half that at $1200. And aside from GoldFynch, which has pricing listed on the website. you still had to shop around for proposals with all the vendors to get the best price.

Small and solo firms are being left in the lurch.

It’s a case of sink or swim, because you can’t get around needing e-discovery:

  • Your clients deal primarily with electronic documents. They send out thousands of emails, store digital documents in different file formats, and even scan paper documents to store them electronically. 
  • You can’t rely on printing electronic material to paper. It’s inefficient, bad for the environment, and you lose out on the metadata that comes along with the digital file. 
  • Countries are passing e-discovery laws: the US (in over 30 states), European Union countries, Australia, U.K, Singapore, and New Zealand (Read about Terry Harrison’s efforts in South Africa); and more are following suit. Courts will order law firms to deal with ‘discovery’ electronically, for dispute arbitration. 

You’ll need to get on board with e-discovery in the best interest of your clients and firm. The last thing you want is for your clients will choose other attorneys, simply because you cannot handle e-discovery.

GoldFynch embodies the spirit of EDna.

It is the only real option for small firms with small cases. As its developers, we find the lack of e-discovery options unacceptable. And in this age of Web 2.0 and SaaS models, prices need to be transparent. 

So, we’ve made sure that with GoldFynch:

  • Your price is all-inclusive and is clearly available on the website (even without signing up).
  • Signup is absolutely frictionless. You get to try out the software for free. To get started, all you need is an email address. (You’ll need a credit card only if you want a premium case). There is no need for quotes, RFP, RFI etc. Just use it! 
  • You get all the features with your starter free case and data up to 1 GB. 

Find out more about GoldFynch.

Whatever your E-Discovery solution, keep the following in mind..

  • The cloud is the only way to save costs. It’s a lot cheaper in the long run, especially with cost-effective solutions like GoldFynch. And while the cloud gets a bad reputation for security, those issues have been addressed. It is easier for a hacker to get into your desktop than the cloud. Remember: with cloud solutions, you don’t have to deal with hardware and software issues.
  • You shouldn’t need much training to use your software because you will only be using a limited feature set – like tagging, redaction and production. You should be able to just sign-up and go.
  • Your software needs a good ‘document review’ tool that handles all file types. Opening different file formats with their respective software (Microsoft Word; Adobe Acrobat, etc.) is ineffective and cumbersome.
  • Eliminate as much data as you can in the beginning. This will make things easier down the line. Sure, cloud-based e-discovery solutions like GoldFynch can handle ever-growing quantities of data, but you still have to review the results. No matter how fast your search results are returned, the weakest link is still the human reviewer. 

To learn more about the EDna challenges:

  • Read about the proposed solutions in the comments section of the blog post EDna: Still Cheap and Challenged.  
  • There is an excellent summary by Bill Dimm at Clustify, of the ACEDS 2016 E-Discovery Conference. 
  • The slides from the ACEDS presentation are available online for purchase through ACEDS.