eDiscovery Pricing: What Is My Small Law Firm Paying For? And Can It Pay Less?

09 November 2017 by Anith Mathai general eDiscovery

eDiscovery doesn’t have to be expensive. All you need is an app that helps you process and host your files. The best ones process files for free and host them on the Cloud. Learn more about this and find out if you’ve been paying too much for eDiscovery.

Does eDiscovery have to be so expensive?

Attorneys often wonder why eDiscovery is such an expensive process. With complicated cases, the expense is justified. You need to collect encrypted data, shared files, etc. So, you call in eDiscovery specialists, who help you collect ESI (electronically stored information), manage your project, and give you eDiscovery-related legal advice. But, what about the simpler cases? Your small law firm won’t need these services, so how much should you be paying?

The right software makes eDiscovery very affordable.

Sometimes all you need is an app to help you ‘process’ and host your files. So, let’s explore what that means.

Processing: Getting your eDiscovery files ready for review.

eDiscovery apps give you powerful tools — like keyword searching, and tagging. But to use them, your files need to first be ‘processed.’ Here are the steps:

  1. Finding and deleting duplicate files
  2. Finding and deleting system files
  3. Converting files into a common format
  4. Extracting data from your files

Step 1: Finding and deleting duplicate files.

Many lawyers estimate that up to 50% of their files are duplicates. For example, a colleague emails you a file that you already have. That’s an ‘exact’ duplicate. Or, you correct a few typos in a Word document and save it as a different file. This is a ‘near’ duplicate. It’s basically the same file, but not quite. Your computer sees it as something new.

Finding and deleting these duplicates is called deduplication. **Here’s how it’s done:

  • For ‘exact’ duplicates: Your eDiscovery app uses an algorithm to give a unique ‘hash’ number to each file you upload. This number is like a digital fingerprint. So, two ‘exact’ duplicates will get the same hash number. Your app registers this and deletes one of them.
  • For ‘near’ duplicates: Your eDiscovery software has more work to do. Although the differences are superficial (e.g., a comma instead of a full-stop, in a couple of sentences), they’re enough for both files to get different hash numbers. So, your software has to ‘read’ the files to compare their similarities.

Learn more about deduplication

Step 2: Finding and deleting system files.

When you upload whole folders, you’ll often be uploading ‘system’ files. These are files that your computer needs, to run. But which aren’t going to help your case. There are millions of these. Like, executable software files (.exe files), font files, and Windows system files. Just as with duplicate files, these system files have ‘hash’ values. And organizations like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) collect and store hash values for system files. So, your app compares the hashes of your files to those on the NIST list and deletes the ones that match. This is called deNISTing.

Step 3: Converting files into a common format.

Your files come in different formats. You’ll have Word documents which need to be opened in Microsoft Word, spreadsheets that open with Excel, PDFs that need Adobe, etc. By converting files into a common format, your eDiscovery app can now open them without their parent apps.

Step 4: Extracting data from the files.

While converting files, your eDiscovery software extracts 2 kinds of data.

  • It extracts metadata (i.e., information about the file — like who created it, when it was last accessed, etc.). This metadata is very useful when it comes to building your case. For example, when you want to find an email your client sent to a colleague last January, your software scans the ‘date’ metadata field of all your emails.
  • It extracts embedded files. For example, a video clip in a PowerPoint slide. By separating the clip and the slide, you can search and review them individually. But your eDiscovery software remembers that they’re connected. The PowerPoint slide is called the ‘parent’ document, and the video clip the ‘child’ document.

Hosting your eDiscovery files (i.e., storing them someplace).

Where are your files hosted? Most small law firms can’t afford to store eDiscovery files on their servers. Setting up advanced security and maintaining hardware is too expensive. And it’s a challenge to keep the system up and running 24 x 7. So, smart eDiscovery providers host your data on the Cloud. They’ll lease storage space from the servers of software giants like Amazon and Google. And since these servers host files for millions of clients, their rates are very low. Plus, they are top-of-the-line, come with bank-grade security, and have excellent technical support. Learn more about Cloud hosting.

How are you being charged for hosting? The most common way is to pay ‘per GB’ of data you need to be hosted. This is flexible, but you’ll need to negotiate things like ‘per-seat licensing costs’ and ‘overage.’ Instead, ‘fixed volume’ pricing divides storage space into chunks (or ‘plans’)—e.g., 3 GB, 5 GB, 10 GB, etc., and you choose the plan that best suits you. Here, you don’t need to negotiate anything. Just choose your plan and start working. Tweak this by prorating the plans (like GoldFynch does), and you get the best deals on the market. Learn more about ‘per GB’ and ‘fixed volume’ pricing.

Need affordable eDiscovery? Try GoldFynch. Processing is free! And hosting is hundreds of dollars cheaper than many other apps.

GoldFynch is eDiscovery software designed specifically for small law firms like yours. Unlike most other apps, GoldFynch processes your files for free. So, you only pay for hosting — which is Cloud-based, and at an affordable fixed-volume rate. Just $10 a month for a basic case. That’s $25 less (every month) than the nearest comparable software. And hundreds of dollars cheaper than many others.

Want to learn more about GoldFynch?

GoldFynch is cool for other reasons too!

  • You don’t have to install anything. It runs off the internet, and you use it through your web browser. So you can start working immediately. No sales calls or emails. And no credit card.
  • It’s easy to use. It’s highly intuitive, and you’ll learn how to use it in minutes.
  • It lets you do eDiscovery essentials, like tagging files and redacting privileged information. ‘Producing’ files takes just a few clicks.

For more about eDiscovery for small law firms, check out these articles.