7 Easy eDiscovery Fixes to Save Money for Your Small Law Firm

13 August 2018 by Anith Mathai eDiscovery small-law-firm

You save money when you move from the older ‘paper’ discovery to electronic discovery (eDiscovery). But there’s more you can do. Here are 7 fixes you can use to maximize your eDiscovery budget.

eDiscovery is probably already helping your law firm cut costs.

By using ESI (electronically stored information – like Word documents, PDFs, and emails) and going paperless, your files are easier to organize, take up virtually no physical space, and are easier to search, edit, and share.

But there’s more you can do to cut costs further.

Here are 7 fixes you may not yet be using:

Fix #1: Work with opposing counsel

You may be going up against them in court, but for eDiscovery it’s cost-effective to cooperate with opposing counsel. If you sit down and agree on the scope and process you’ll be using, they’ll let you focus on the case, instead of constantly disputing your methodology. And you’ll often find them being less aggressive about the amount of data they expect you to produce. Plus, if you’ve shown eDiscovery competence up front (by being direct and open), courts are less likely to listen to objections from opposing counsel later on.

Fix #2: Get rid of unnecessary files

eDiscovery lets you handle large amounts of data easily. But just because you can deal with thousands of files, it doesn’t mean you should. Experts agree that over half of most eDiscovery budgets are wasted on storing irrelevant files. Because we’re afraid to delete something that might turn out to be significant. But remember, you’re paying (usually per-GB) to host files on a Cloud server. And it takes time to review those files. So be smart about what you keep.

Fix #3: Protect your metadata

Metadata is a digital footprint which tracks the history of the document. For example, a Microsoft Word document’s metadata tells you when (date and time) the file was created, who created it, how many times and when it has been accessed, changed, or altered, etc. Metadata can help win cases – e.g., the time and location a text message was sent can prove that your client was where she says she was at a particular time. But it can also be damaged easily – e.g., you can destroy metadata just by opening a file or forwarding an email. So, to save time and wasted expenses, learn more about metadata and how to protect it.

Fix #4: Keep files in the same format you found them in

Electronic files like PDFs and emails come with a lot of perks. For example, they have metadata (discussed above) and embedded track-changes and comments. These help you build a stronger case. But you often lose them when you convert files into other formats, like TIFF (i.e., image) files. You could bring in experts to help you extract the metadata, but that’ll cost a lot. And anyway, the new image files take up more space. So, you’ll be paying your eDiscovery provider more to host them. That’s why, as a rule, try to keep files in their original ‘native’ format as much as possible.

Fix #5: Don’t separate emails and their attachments

Email attachments are tricky. On the one hand, it’s really easy to overlook them and miss critical evidence (e.g., your search engines skips attachments, by default). But on the other hand, if you separate them from their parent emails – to make them ‘searchable’ – you lose context. And you’ll waste time on attachments you’d have ignored if you’d seen the parent email. The solution? Keep attachments with their parent emails and find eDiscovery software that can search attachments.

Fix #6: Test your search terms

Say you searched the 8000 files in your case for a particular phrase. And say you get 400 results. How many of those results are relevant? And how much time will it take to figure that out? Instead, what if you used the same search term – as a test – on the files from just one computer? Say the computer has 50 files and you get 10 results. Now it takes much less time to figure out if your search term is pulling up too much irrelevant material. That’s why it pays to test your searches. Use them on small samples of data, and keep tweaking them till you get more relevant files than irrelevant ones. Only then use them on the thousands of files in your case. Learn other tips for searching your eDiscovery case.

Fix #7: Ask for help when you need it

Reviewing your eDiscovery files takes time. So, if you find yourself flooded with data, consider asking for help. For example, some eDiscovery providers offer a ‘managed review,’ where a team of highly qualified, experienced, and affordable outside attorneys help you review your data. And if your case isn’t that complicated, you may not need your best attorneys (and their precious billable hours) on the job. You could, instead, outsource review to legal assistants or lawyers with lower hourly rates, in other countries.

How to find affordable eDiscovery software?

You want something that’s easy to use and affordable. So ask these questions to find the right eDiscovery software for your firm. Take GoldFynch, for example. It’s a next-generation eDiscovery application that prioritizes things that matter to small law firms.

  • Pay just $27 per month for a basic 3 GB case. That’s far less–every month–than the nearest comparable software. And hundreds of dollars cheaper than many others. GoldFynch’s pricing is transparent and readily available on the website.
  • It’s a flat, prorated rate. So it’s simple to budget for it. With legacy software, the billing is complicated and opaque, and your bill changes depending on how much data you use.
  • It has the best eDiscovery tools: GoldFynch has a powerful but easy-to-use search engine. It’s like your own private Google. GoldFynch also lets you do eDiscovery essentials like tagging, redacting, and ‘producing’ files. And it sets up a ‘managed’ document review if you need one.
  • Got a small case that might become a large one later? GoldFynch scales from small to large. So, choose from a range of case sizes (3 GB to 150 GB, and more) and don’t waste money on space you don’t need. Plus, you don’t need to pay to ‘unlock’ premium features. You’ll have the full power of GoldFynch even with a starter case.
  • It takes just minutes to get going. It runs in the Cloud, so you use it through your web browser (Google Chrome recommended). No installation. No sales calls or emails. Plus, you get a free, fully-functional trial case (0.5 GB of data and processing cap of 1 GB), without adding a credit card.
  • You get the best technical support: It’s designed, developed and run by the same team. So, the technical support isn’t outsourced. Which means prompt and reliable service.

Want to find out more about GoldFynch?

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