5 eDiscovery Truths That Every Small Law Firm Should Know About [But Only a Few Do]

10 September 2018 by Anith Mathai eDiscovery cloud small-law-firm advanced-search eDiscovery-ethics

You’ll need to learn about (1) The Cloud, (2) The story of your case, (3) Advanced searches, (4) eDiscovery ethics, and (5) Court eDiscovery rulings. Read on to find out more.

Most small law firms are getting comfortable with eDiscovery.

But there are still some essential eDiscovery-truths that many don’t know about. Here are 5 of the most important ones.

1. The Cloud is the safest, most convenient and cost-effective place for your eDiscovery data

With eDiscovery, you often deal with hundreds (or even thousands) of Word documents, PDFs, emails, etc. So, where do you store all this data?

  • Option 1: Store the data on your own servers. This seems like the easiest option, but it isn’t. You’ll need to install and maintain specialized hardware and software. And you’ll need advanced digital security to protect your data from viruses, malware, and theft.
  • Option 2: Store the data on your eDiscovery vendor’s servers. This is a better option. But it’s still expensive. Private server farms are costly to run, are routinely hacked, and need trained IT personnel to manage them 24/7.
  • Option 3: Store your data in the ‘Cloud.’ This is what most small law firms should be doing. With Cloud-hosting, 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 we discussed in option 2 above. Learn more about the Cloud.

2. At the heart of every eDiscovery case is a story. Lose the story, and you lose the case

Each case has a story to it. Things like: What happened? When and how? Who is involved? What did they do? How are they connected to each other? Why did things happen the way they did? What were the motives? But it’s easy to forget about the story and get bogged down with other technical stuff – like collecting, processing, and reviewing data. By letting eDiscovery tools hijack our attention, we often end up looking for the wrong things. And we figure this out too late—when we’re preparing for trial. So, keep refining your story and use it to stay on track. Learn more about the flow of eDiscovery.

With a basic search, you enter a keyword and your application pulls up all files with that keyword. So, if you searched for John Anderson, you’d get (for example) all of John’s emails and the deposition transcripts in which his name appeared. With an advanced search, you combine multiple keywords and tell your eDiscovery software how and where to search for them. So, you can, in effect, tell it to, “Find all emails John Anderson sent Sally Nedry, which mention the Pfizer meeting. And which were sent before 2015.” And the best eDiscovery applications make these advanced searches easy and intuitive. Learn more about advanced searches.

4. If you want repeat clients, you need to have high eDiscovery standards

Legal discovery has evolved, and so have its ethical standards. Here are examples of things you should be thinking about:

  1. Preserving data: Does everyone know about your ‘litigation hold’? What is your client’s data-retention policy? Is the metadata safe?
  2. Gathering data: Where is all the data stored? Are there patterns to how your client uses data? How much data do you need? And from whom?
  3. Searching data: What are your search terms? Is your client making simple search mistakes that you can fix?
  4. Protecting data: Is your office secure? Do you have CCTV, an alarm system and security guards? Do you have good ‘virtual’ security? E.g., firewalls and encryption. Learn more about eDiscovery standards and ethics.

5. eDiscovery is what the courts say it is

Courts regularly pass rulings that set eDiscovery standards. So, to avoid sanctions, stay up-to-date with new court rulings. For example, in Home Instead, Inc. v. Florance, 2013 WL 5979629 (D. Neb. Nov. 8, 2013):

  • Defendants Home Instead destroyed evidence, deleted and discarded files, and sold/shredded information. They did not review client paper files, did not look at relevant caregiver logs or client-care plans, and were unable to explain what efforts their employees used to find responsive information.’
  • So, the plaintiff demanded to know if the defendants had placed a litigation hold.
  • And the court upheld the plaintiff’s request. It ordered the defendants to provide the requested affidavit. It wanted to know how thorough the defendants’ search was. As well as how guilty they were in failing to preserve evidence.

Learn about other court rulings.

Looking for affordable eDiscovery software? Try GoldFynch.

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 much 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.
  • 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?

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