Best eDiscovery Software (2020): Why 'Top 10' Lists Aren't Enough [And What You Need Instead]
Takeaway: Google lists 25+ eDiscovery applications to choose from – all packed with impressive features. But how do you choose the one that’s best for your firm? The trick is to use these 6 guiding principles: (1) Your eDiscovery software should do the basics, well, (2) Your data should be accessible 24x7, (3) Your data should be secure, (4) Your software should be team-friendly, (5) Your software should be low maintenance, (6) You should know exactly what you’re paying for.
‘Best of 2020’ lists are great. But what you also need are guiding principles to help navigate these lists.
eDiscovery technology has evolved rapidly over the last decade, making it easier for software designers to compete. Google can now suggest 25+ state-of-the-art eDiscovery applications perfect for any kind of user. But that’s the thing – you aren’t ‘any kind of user.’ Your firm has specific needs that require a specific kind of software. So, lists are great, but you need guiding principles to navigate your choices.
How to choose your eDiscovery software: 6 basic principles.
1. Software features are important. But ‘more’ isn’t always ‘better.’ Find software that does eDiscovery basics well.
Many eDiscovery solutions aren’t ideal for small and midsize law firms like yours. They’re packed with features that you don’t need – and which make them more expensive. For example, ‘predictive coding.’ This is where the software looks for patterns in the way you review and label files and then makes suggestions automatically. It’s exciting, cutting-edge stuff. But unless you’re a large law firm with a high caseload, these are frills you’ll rarely use. Certainly not when you’re trying to grow your firm, find new clients, and keep costs down. Instead, find software that does eDiscovery basics well. Basics like searching, tagging, redacting and producing files.
2. eDiscovery revolves around data. So, your files need to be accessible 24/7. The ‘cloud’ is the perfect solution.
Cloud eDiscovery is the perfect way of having your files accessible 24/7, from any device, anywhere. Here, software giants like Amazon and Google lease storage space on their high-powered servers. And these interconnected servers form a global ‘cloud.’ If your data is in the cloud, it’s always accessible. You’ll only need a laptop and an internet connection. Many apps already store our data in the cloud (e.g., Dropbox, Google Drive, or any Apple product). So, cloud-based eDiscovery was the next logical step. Another benefit of the cloud is that it cuts costs. The more people there are in the cloud, the less the cost for each. That’s the beauty of Cloud economics. And since the cloud-providers host millions of people, you pay much less than if you store data on private servers.
3. Your data is confidential. So you’ll need to make sure it’s locked away, safe. Luckily, cloud providers offer bank-grade security.
You can’t afford to lose your eDiscovery data or have it leaked. Luckily, cloud providers use the sort of security measures that banks use for online transactions.
- They protect your data from physical damage (fires, floods, etc.). And they have generators to make sure their servers are always powered up.
- They protect your data from intruders and hackers. They do rigorous background and security checks for employees and IT professionals that come in contact with their servers. They use technology like encrypted biometric identification to make sure only authorized vendors are connecting to their servers. And they regularly test their software and hardware to make them hack-proof.
- They encrypt your data. And when you want to delete it, they use crypto-shredding to delete the encryption keys. This guarantees that your data is wiped thoroughly. Also, they mask (i.e., hide within random characters) vital information like credit card numbers.
- They have advanced data recovery tools to retrieve your data if it gets lost. And they make sure your data doesn’t get mistakenly corrupted, edited, or mixed up with other users’ cloud data.
4. eDiscovery is a team game. So, find team-friendly software.
Here are some features your team will need.
- Free access to multiple users. You don’t want to have to pay for each new user. So, the trick is to find software that charges for storage space, not users. You’ll choose a case plan (e.g., 3 GB of storage space) and then get to invite as many people as you want to work on the case. Only the case owner (i.e., you) has to pay anything, and your team uses the software for free. This is perfect for a rapidly evolving case where you might need to expand and shrink your team on the fly. Equally important, this storage-only pricing makes your eDiscovery bill predictable.
- Saveable searches. eDiscovery searches need to be broad enough to catch all the files you’re looking for. But not so broad that they catch a lot of irrelevant files too. So, you’ll set up a search, test it on a small sample of your data, see the results, tweak the search, and repeat. This takes a lot of time and effort. So, the best eDiscovery applications let you save the searches that your team builds. That way, team members can reuse these searches when needed.
- ‘Smart’ tags. Think of a tag as a virtual post-it. With paper documents, you stick post-its to key pages so that you can easily find them again. With electronic documents, you use tags. They’ll pull up related files and content with a single click. They’ll make it easy to ‘produce’ these files too. And they’ll help your team stay organized. The best eDiscovery applications have ‘smart’ tags, which are quick and easy to use. You’ll be able to choose from default tags, create new ones and label them (to add context), and bulk tag files and file families.
- Secure production sharing. Your data is most vulnerable when you share ‘productions’ with your team. So, the best eDiscovery applications let you link to these productions instead of downloading and emailing/mailing them. People with the link can view your production from within the eDiscovery application, where your data is 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.
5. Information technology (IT) is not your job, so hand over technical issues to someone else. Use an eDiscovery service instead of buying eDiscovery software.
Storing your data in the cloud (point no. 2, above) is just the first step. Next comes running eDiscovery software in the cloud, too. And it’s called Software as a Service (SaaS). With SaaS, your eDiscovery provider runs the software for you and you pay to access it via your web browser. You don’t have to download and install any software or troubleshoot technical issues that pop up. Learn more about SaaS.
6. eDiscovery pricing is tricky. Make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for.
Many eDiscovery providers use a ‘per GB’ (or, ‘pay as you go’) pricing plan. So, they tell you how much each GB of data they store for you will cost. And you use that rate to pay for the GBs you used that month. Seems fair, right? But a sneaky per-GB provider can manipulate the rate to their advantage. Instead, many law firms prefer the ‘fixed volume’ pricing plan discussed in point 4, above. Here, storage space is divided into chunks (or ‘plans’) – e.g. 3 GB, 5 GB, 10 GB, etc. And their prices have been set in advance. So, choose your plan and you’ll immediately know what your bill will be at the end of the month. Learn more about per-GB vs. fixed-volume pricing plans.
Don’t have time for long lists? Need a simple eDiscovery solution? Try GoldFynch.
It’s part of a new generation of eDiscovery applications tailored for small and midsize law firms.
- It costs just $25 a month for a 3 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. With GoldFynch, you know what you’re paying for exactly – 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’s safe. Your data is protected by bank-grade security. Perfect for small and midsize firms.
- It’s quick to get started. 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.
- It’s simple to use. Many eDiscovery applications take hours to master. GoldFynch takes minutes. It handles a lot of complex processing in the background, but what you see is minimal and intuitive. Just drag-and-drop your files into GoldFynch and you’re good to go. Also, you get prompt and reliable tech support.
- It keeps you flexible. To build a defensible case, you need to be able to add and delete files freely. Many applications charge to process each file you upload, so you’ll be reluctant to let your case organically shrink and grow. And this stifles you. With GoldFynch, you get unlimited processing for free.
- Access it from anywhere. And 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the cloud, so it’s perfect for when you have to work from home.
Want to find out more about GoldFynch?
Looking for articles that can help law firms like yours?
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