How to Stop Worrying About Your Small Law Firm Being Left Behind by eDiscovery
eDiscovery is manageable if you (1) Understand the process. (2) Keep up with new eDiscovery laws (3) Handle data the right way. (4) Understand the Cloud. (5) Learn how to choose good eDiscovery software.
Yes, eDiscovery can be intimidating.
There’s a lot to understand. First off, what exactly is it, and why is it (i.e., ‘electronic’ discovery) better than the old ‘paper’ discovery? Also, is your small law firm doing it right? Do you need specialized software? If so, which app is the best? And why are they all priced differently? Should you be worrying about all this?
No, you don’t need to worry.
You just need to go over some of the basics, to get your bearings. Then, let your eDiscovery provider handle all the technical stuff and give you software with the tools you need to build a defensible case.
Here’s what you need to know.
These insights will help you navigate the changing eDiscovery landscape.
1. eDiscovery is a process. It is methodical. And there’s a right way to do it.
eDiscovery (i.e. electronic discovery, or e-discovery) is the process of collecting, reviewing, and ‘producing’ electronically stored information (ESI) like Word documents, PDFs, emails, etc. It’s an attorney’s best friend since it’ll help you search large amounts of information and prepare for trial. But there’s a right way to do it. For that, you’ll need to:
- Learn about the stages of eDiscovery.
- Understand the ‘flow’ of eDiscovery. I.e., how to stay focused on building your case and not be distracted by software technicalities.
2. Courts regularly pass eDiscovery rulings. You’ll need to stay up-to-date.
The EU recently adopted new general data protection regulation (GDPR) guidelines. And courts now regularly pass eDiscovery rulings that affect the way small and solo firms practice law. So, you’ll need to explore and understand new regulations. For example, courts in the USA now require you to be more systematic about eDiscovery, protect your metadata, produce files the right way, and pay attention to email eDiscovery. Learn more about recent court rulings.
3. You need to handle eDiscovery data carefully.
eDiscovery helps you sift through vast amounts of data (also known as big data). But how you handle the data is as important as what you do with it. For example:
- Metadata is fragile: When you create a document on your computer, the app you’re using (e.g., Microsoft Word) records a bunch of information about it. Things like who created it, when they created it, when it was last opened, etc. This ‘data about data’ (i.e., metadata) is a digital footprint which tracks the history of the document. It can help you win cases, but it can be destroyed easily. Learn more about metadata and how to handle it.
- You need to cull data, early: The more files you review, the more you’ll spend on eDiscovery. Remember, you’re paying (usually per GB of data) to upload and process files, host them, analyze them, and produce them. So, you’ll need to learn to delete as many unnecessary files as possible, early on. Find out more about culling data.
4. The best eDiscovery is Cloud-based.
Cloud computing (I.e., cloud hosting) has been around for a long time. In fact, if you use Dropbox, Google Drive, or any Apple product, then you’re already in the Cloud. Software giants like Amazon and Google lease storage and computing power to businesses all over the world. And their thousands of interconnected servers form a public ‘Cloud.’ The more people there are in the Cloud, the less the costs for each. That’s the beauty of cloud economics, and it means you pay much less than if you were using the private servers. All the best eDiscovery apps are Cloud-based, so it’s worth understanding the Cloud better. Your data is safer than if you store it yourself, and you can access it from anywhere. All you’d need is an internet connection. Learn more about Cloud-based eDiscovery.
5. You’re only as good as your eDiscovery software.
eDiscovery without the right software is next to impossible (learn why). So, how do you choose your software? Here are some things to keep in mind:
- It should be easy to use. It needs to set up in minutes, should have a simple and clear interface, basic action actions should be intuitive, and it **should come with good technical support.
- It should be in the Cloud. So you won’t need to buy/maintain new hardware, won’t need an IT team to keep the system going, can save money, and will have access to your data on-the-go. Find out more about Cloud-based eDiscovery.
- It should have transparent, up-front pricing. eDiscovery pricing can be complicated, with many hidden costs. So, find ‘per GB’ (or, ‘pay as you go’) pricing – your bill will calculated per GB of data stored. And make sure the pricing is prorated. Find out more about eDiscovery pricing.
- It shouldn’t have unnecessary frills. Features like ‘predictive coding’ sound exciting and cutting-edge. The software will look for patterns in the way you review and label files and then makes suggestions automatically. But, as a small law firm, most of your cases won’t need these sorts of features. And they hike the price of the software unnecessarily (learn why, here).
- Instead, make sure you have these basic features:
- Automatic optical character recognition (OCR) – a software tool that converts scanned documents into text files that a computer can process. Learn more about OCR here.
- Good ‘advanced search’. It’ll make sure you don’t miss any important files/information when building your case. Learn more about advanced searches here.
- Tagging/coding. These are ‘labels’ you can add to files to help you group related files together.
- Inbuilt ‘production’ sharing. Instead of having to download and mail/email eDiscovery productions, your software should have a way of sharing it directly. Find out about the right way to share productions.
- Managed reviews. Ask experienced attorneys to help you review case files, for when you don’t have the time or expertise. Find out about managed reviews here.
Need affordable eDiscovery for your small law firm? Try GoldFynch.
It’s a new breed of fresh, young, adaptable eDiscovery apps. And it’s designed especially for small law firms like yours. Here’s why it’s cool:
- No set-up required. It runs in the Cloud, 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 trial case is free.
- You can work from anywhere. All you need is an internet connection.
- It’s easy to use. Just like any other app on your phone.
- It has all the key features you’ll need: OCR, searching, tagging, production sharing, and managed reviews.
- You get the best technical support: Its designed, developed and run by the same team. So, the technical support isn’t outsourced. Which means prompt and reliable service.
- Most importantly, it’s affordable. Just $25 a month for a basic case. That’s much less–every month–than the nearest comparable software. And hundreds of dollars cheaper than many others.