What Is an eDiscovery Professional? And What's the Fix If Your Small Law Firm Can't Yet Afford One?
eDiscovery is an important part of modern law. But since it mixes law with technology, it needs someone who understands both – I.e., an eDiscovery professional. But if you can’t afford an eDiscovery pro yet, a simple first step would be to find powerful eDiscovery software that’s simple to use.
Electronic discovery is faster and more efficient than paper discovery, but it comes with challenges.
Instead of sifting through thousands of files manually, computers will find you your keywords in seconds. And instead of boxes (and often, rooms) of files, everything sits on a computer server. Plus, with cloud computing, you can now access your files from anywhere in the world. But eDiscovery mixes technology and law. Which means, you need people who have a background in both. This is especially true for small law firms like yours. After all, how many of your attorneys have the knowledge (or time) to handle the technical issues that may pop up?
So, what’s the solution? Hire an eDiscovery professional.
These are specialists in eDiscovery and all the challenges it brings. They usually have a background in information science/technology. As well as a basic understanding of the law, many even have law degrees. And they work with law firms, corporations, eDiscovery vendors and consultants, the government, or even teach in universities.
They’re especially useful in law firms.
Because they can connect and coordinate with a firm’s legal team, IT department, eDiscovery vendors, and administration. And they also help in the following ways:
1. They’ll help you collect, review, and produce electronically stored information (ESI).
There’s an art to collecting and reviewing your client’s ESI (things like PDFs, Word docs, emails, etc.). You’ll need someone who knows what needs to be done. But they’ll also need to know how best to do it. It’ll mean liaising with your client – and keeping them up-to-date. As well as asking questions like these:
- Preserving data: Does everyone know about your ‘litigation hold’? What is your client’s data-retention policy? Is the metadata safe?
- Gathering data: Where is all the data stored? How do they use their data? How are you going to get the data onto your system?
- Searching data: What are your search terms? Has your client been using proper search technique?
- Protecting data: Is your office secure? Do you have good ‘virtual’ security? Are you backing up files regularly?
Learn more about eDiscovery standards like the ones above.
2. They’ll help you handle eDiscovery data properly.
With eDiscovery, you can 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. An eDiscovery pro will help you:
- Protect your metadata: 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.
- 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. An eDiscovery pro will help you delete as many unnecessary files as possible, early on. Find out more about culling data.
3. They’ll keep track of data and make sure it’s stored safely. Especially, when it’s in the Cloud.
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. eDiscovery pros can handle all the technical issues of getting your data into the Cloud. And will make sure it’s well protected. Learn more about Cloud-based eDiscovery.
4. They’ll help you stay with the ‘flow’ of eDiscovery.
There’s a lot to the technical side of eDiscovery. But it’s important to stay focused on what matters. At its core, eDiscovery is like detective work and there’s a ‘flow’ to it. A case is always built around a ‘story’ (i.e., what happened, why it happened, and who was involved). And you’ve got to keep coming back to this story throughout the eDiscovery process. If you let the technical side of eDiscovery hijack your attention, you’ll stop looking at what matters. And you’ll figure this out too late – when you’re preparing for trial. So, an eDiscovery pro takes over the technical musts (e.g., finding and refining search terms), while you focus on big-picture stuff. Learn more about the ‘flow’ of eDiscovery.
5. They’ll help you stay up-to-date with court rulings.
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. 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. An eDiscovery pro will track these new regulations and make sure your firm complies with them. Learn more about recent court rulings.
Can’t afford an eDiscovery professional? Find good eDiscovery software instead.
eDiscovery professionals are often expensive. In 2017, their salaries ranged from $97,843 (in Washington D.C) to $250,000 (in New York). So, many small law firms can’t justify spending so much on them. Instead, small firms need to focus on finding good eDiscovery software that can at least simplify the technical side of eDiscovery, without the costs.
Need simple eDiscovery? Try GoldFynch.
GoldFynch is a new breed of fresh, young, adaptable eDiscovery applications. 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 essential 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.