Low-Cost eDiscovery For Small Law Firms: Why It’s Possible, and How to Get it

27 November 2017 by Anith Mathai general eDiscovery

eDiscovery is a complicated process. A decade ago, eDiscovery software was custom-made and expensive. But there’s a new generation of cheaper, faster apps, which help small law firms rack up more billable hours. Learn why they’re revolutionary, and where to get them.

It used to be that if a company was sued, attorneys would be sorting through boxes full of paper. Nowadays, we work with electronic data. Things like emails, Word and PDF documents, and texts. So, attorneys use electronic discovery (eDiscovery or e-discovery) to deal with all this electronically stored information (ESI).

And there are hundreds (or thousands) of files to review.

You’ll have to collect them, first. And scan paper documents as you go. Then you’ll have to convert them into a standard format. Next, you review them — tagging and redacting content — and Bates stamp them. And finally you ‘produce’ them.

But remember, you can’t afford to make a mistake while doing all this.

If you don’t deal with the data correctly, you’ll be accused of spoiling evidence. Which means fines and sanctions. With so much at stake, most small and solo law firms look to eDiscovery experts for help.

However, traditionally, eDiscovery experts charged a lot.

Small law firms would typically spend thousands of dollars a week (and sometimes, a day!) for experts to process all the electronic data. And they’d pass these costs on to the client.

eDiscovery pioneer Craig Ball demonstrated this expense way back in 2009.

He hypothesized a small-firm attorney named Edna, who had a budget of $1,000 for eDiscovery. He then challenged vendors to provide a solution. Their software needed to:

  • Be affordable, easy to use, and able to handle multiple file formats
  • Have a redaction feature
  • Protect file metadata, and track deduplication of files
  • Have an efficient workflow

This ‘EDna Challenge’ had a phenomenal response from software vendors and consultants. Some claimed that it was an impossible goal to achieve, some lowered their prices, and others proposed combining different pieces of software. But what was clear was that eDiscovery software was not affordable for small law firms. And it wasn’t easy to use, either.

So, why is eDiscovery expensive?

There’s a lot of work that goes into eDiscovery. For example, before you can even start working on your files, your software has to ‘process’ them. This means it has to:

  1. Find and delete duplicate files: For example, a colleague emails you a file that you already have. Or, you correct a few typos in a Word document and save it as a different file. These files will unnecessarily waste your time. But finding and deleting them takes a bit of ingenuity by your software.
  2. Finding and deleting 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.
  3. Convert 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.
  4. Extract data from your files: While converting files, your eDiscovery software extracts 2 kinds of data.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

And this is just to get started.

Next, your software has to be able to search the files, let you tag and redact them, and then produce them.

A decade ago, only custom-made software could handle all this.

So, big law firms with deep pockets bought the expensive, made-to-order software. And small law firms were priced out of the market.

Now, though, there’s a new generation of low-cost eDiscovery apps.

Technology has evolved. It’s cheaper to design good ediscovery software. So, the barrier to entry is lowered, and there’s more competition. This drives down prices and gives small law firms more choices. And with experience, providers learn to create ready-to-use ediscovery packages. Which cost much less than ‘custom’ software tailored to a particular large law firm.

Faster, cheaper eDiscovery will help you cut costs.

And when you pass that on to your clients, that’ll mean more business and more billable hours.

So, want affordable eDiscovery? Try GoldFynch.

GoldFynch is eDiscovery software designed for small and solo law firms. And at a low cost. Here’s why it’s getting so much attention:

  • 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. Plus, your starter case is free.
  • It’s easy to use. It’s highly intuitive, and you’ll learn how to use it in minutes.
  • It’s got a great search engine. Tell GoldFynch the keywords, names, dates, etc. that you want it to search for. And tell it what not to search for. Which saves time when you have hundreds (or thousands) of files to sort through.
  • It lets you do eDiscovery essentials, like tagging files and redacting privileged information. ‘Producing’ files takes just a few clicks.
  • Most importantly, it’s affordable. 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.

To learn more about GoldFynch . . .

To learn about low-cost eDiscovery for small law firms, check out these articles.