eDiscovery Without Expensive Software: Is It Possible?

26 February 2020 by Ross eDiscovery software affordable

Takeaway: eDiscovery becomes expensive only when you use software designed for large law firms. Small and midsize firms need to find software with the few key features they’ll actually use – like Cloud eDiscovery, advanced security, inbuilt OCR, universal compatibility, a powerful search engine, thorough redaction, and easy ‘productions’. This sort of software is affordable and (surprisingly) can help your firm compete with much larger ones.

Good eDiscovery doesn’t have to be expensive.

It’s tempting to think that ‘more money’ means ‘better eDiscovery software’. But that isn’t always the case.

Your software really needs to do only a few things … but do them well.

Most small and midsize firms need just these 7 key features:

1. Store your files in the Cloud

So, you’re done with the challenge of collecting files from various custodians. But you now need somewhere to put them. The best eDiscovery applications store your files in the Cloud – which is a vast global network of servers. Because of the sheer number of servers in the Cloud, you get near-limitless storage space at affordable prices. And the best part is you can access your files from anywhere. All you’ll need is a laptop and an internet connection.

2. Protect your files, with advanced digital security

The great news about the Cloud is that it’s highly secure. Cloud providers spend millions of dollars in protecting your data. And their security is the kind that banks use for their online transaction. For example, they protect your data from physical damage like fires and floods. They also use advanced encryption and online security to keep hackers out. And they have advanced data recovery tools to retrieve your data if it gets lost.

3. Scan paper documents using automatic Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

You’ll mainly collect electronic data (Microsoft Word documents, PDFs, email, etc.), but you’ll still have to scan some paper documents. The thing is, scanned documents aren’t stored as ‘text’ files. They’re more like ‘photos’ of text. Which means you can’t edit them like you would a Word document. For that, you’ll need to convert them into regular documents using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. You can get free OCR software, but they often make annoying errors. So, try and find eDiscovery software with an inbuilt OCR feature.

4. Open any kind of document, email or image

Documents, emails, and images are all stored in different ‘formats’. Your computer sees them as zeroes and ones – i.e., ‘bits.’ And it encodes these bits together into a ‘file’ that’s opened by specific ‘parent’ software. So, for example, the bits may be encoded as a DOCX file. This tells your computer to open it with Microsoft Word. If the file was encoded as a PDF file, your computer would use Adobe Acrobat to open it. The challenge with eDiscovery is to design software that can open these files without their parent applications. So, before buying eDiscovery software, make sure it can really open any kind of file.

5. Quickly find the files you need to build a defensible case

With ‘paper’ discovery, you’d have to read through hundreds (or thousands) of documents. With ‘electronic’ discovery (eDiscovery), you use a search engine. The best eDiscovery applications let you give highly specific ‘advanced search’ commands like, “Find all emails John Anderson sent Sally Nedry, which mention the Pfizer meeting. And which were sent before 2015.” And the software will let you search file metadata. I.e., information about a file – like when it was created, who created it, etc. Need to find emails that were sent to your client John Anderson (and also know when John read them)? Your software will use email metadata to give you this sort of information. Learn more about metadata.

6. Thoroughly redact sensitive information

Many of your documents will have privileged information that needs to be kept private. Redacting this text might seem straightforward: Just draw a black box over the sensitive paragraph, right? This is what your eDiscovery software does, but there’s a bit more to it. For example, it can’t just ‘place’ the redaction box over the sensitive text. It needs to anchor it securely. Otherwise, someone could just ‘cut and paste’ the box out of the document and read whatever is underneath. Also, are you using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on a PDF? If so, you’ll need to redact both the original PDF and the newly generated text file. And there are so many more examples of how a faulty redaction tool can lead to serious errors. So, test out your eDiscovery software thoroughly.

7. Make ‘producing’ your files easy

Good eDiscovery software will let you produce and share files quickly and easily. You’ll be able to choose your production format (TIFF, PDF or native), as well as stamp files with Bates Numbers and tags. And instead of emailing a production to someone, you’ll share a link to it instead. This keeps the production inside your eDiscovery application, where it’s encrypted and protected from prying eyes. Plus, you’re sharing only the completed production – not the original files. So, there’s no danger of anyone reading privileged content. Learn more about sharing productions.

eDiscovery becomes expensive only when you use software meant for larger firms.

This sort of software will have features you won’t really need. Take Technology-Assisted Review (TAR), for example. Here, your software studies the files you mark as ‘relevant’ and learns what you’re looking for. It then starts pulling up similar documents for you to review. It’s like how YouTube learns your taste in videos and then suggests new clips that you might like to watch. TAR can help you get work done faster but it drives up eDiscovery costs. And it’s an example of a software feature that only large law firms (with massive case volumes) need, and can afford.

So what kind of software should small and midsize law firms use?

You need a dependable, affordable eDiscovery application with only the features you’ll really use. Take eDiscovery software GoldFynch, for instance.

  • It costs just $27 a month for a 3 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. With GoldFynch, you know exactly what you’re paying for – its pricing is simple and readily available on the website.
  • It’s easy to budget for. GoldFynch charges only for storage (processing is free). So, choose from a range of plans (3 GB to 150+ GB) and know up front how much you’ll be paying. It takes just a few clicks to move from one plan to another, and billing is prorated – so you’ll pay only for the time you spend on any given plan. With legacy software, pricing is much less predictable.
  • It takes just minutes to get going. GoldFynch 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 trial case (0.5 GB of data and processing cap of 1 GB), without adding a credit card.
  • You can access it from anywhere. And 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the Cloud.
  • You won’t have to worry about technical stuff. GoldFynch is designed, developed, and run by the same team. Which means you get prompt and reliable service.

Want to find out more about GoldFynch?

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