eDiscovery and Big Data: What Small Law Firms Can Learn

10 May 2020 by Ross eDiscovery Big-data small-law-firm

Takeaway: Smaller law firms don’t yet have to handle truly ‘big’ data, but they can do 3 things to prepare for an inevitable rise in case sizes. So, make sure your eDiscovery software can (1) Handle large amounts of data, (2) Process that data quickly, and (3) Open newly developed file types.

Big data is about massive volumes of data that regular software can’t handle.

When you buy something on a credit card, sign up for a newsletter, vote, answer a survey, or receive an email, bits of information about that interaction are stored on a server somewhere. Big data refers to the concept of these large pools of data that are so massive and complex that they need special tools to handle them. For example, you might need to use artificial intelligence (AI) to process all the information you’ve collected.

Smaller law firms usually deal with smaller cases (100 GB or less), but big data hints at the future of eDiscovery.

It’s not really about handling truly ‘big’ data. Rather, it’s about seeing the rising tide of data coming in, and realizing that your eDiscovery systems need to be able to handle it. Here are some things to think about:

1. You’ll need to be able to handle increasingly large amounts of data.

The more time we spend online, the more data we generate. This includes data from business transactions, the Internet of Things (IoT), videos, social media, etc. So, even smaller law firms need to prepare to handle larger cases.

The solution? Cloud eDiscovery: An affordable way to get near-unlimited storage space.

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.’ This near-unlimited storage space is perfect for smaller law firms looking for rapidly scalable storage options. You might not have large cases now, but if (rather, when) you do, you’ll be able to scale up using the same Cloud storage you’ll already be using. And, conveniently, the more people there are in the Cloud, the less the costs for each. So you pay much less than if you were using private servers.

2. You’ll need to be able to process data quickly.

Your eDiscovery software will have a lot of processing to do. And it needs to cycle through these stages rapidly.

  1. ‘Unpacking’ files. Some of your files are actually a bunch of grouped files. For example, an email may have an attachment. So the email is unpacked as two separate records – original (parent) email and the (child) attachment.
  2. Converting scanned documents into text. When you scan a document, it’s usually stored as an image of the document, not text that you can edit and search. So your software uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to convert it into a regular document that you can search for keywords.
  3. ‘Indexing’ your data. ‘Indexing’ is how your software processes all the data you’ve uploaded. When you search your eDiscovery case, your software doesn’t go through each document for every search. Instead, when uploading your files, it creates an index/database of what’s in each file (i.e. keywords) and what’s stored ‘about’ each file (i.e. metadata – things like when it was created, who created it, when it was last modified, etc.). So, when you search your case, your software skims through this index, looking for your search terms. For example, to find emails sent on a particular date, your software searches all your email ‘date’ metadata fields.
  4. Weeding out irrelevant files. This includes finding and flagging duplicate files (e.g. two versions of the same email) and system files (e.g. .DAT or .DLL files – which your computer needs in order to run, but you don’t).
  5. Converting files into a common format. Your files come in different formats. You’ll have Word documents that need to be opened in Microsoft Word, spreadsheets that open with Excel, PDFs that need Adobe Acrobat, etc. By converting files into a common format, your eDiscovery software can now open them without their parent applications.

The solution? Subscribe to a high-performance eDiscovery ‘service,’ rather than buying eDiscovery ‘software.’

Sure, you need a high-performance application. (And here’s what to consider when searching for eDiscovery software) But you also need to make sure it’s maintained well, so that it stays high performing. That’s where the concept of Software as a Service (SaaS) becomes useful. Here, your eDiscovery software is run in the Cloud by an eDiscovery provider. And you pay a monthly subscription fee. So, instead of buying software, you’re subscribing to a service. This means your eDiscovery provider manages updates, troubleshoots technical issues, and makes sure the software works smoothly.

3. You’ll need to be able to open newly developed file types.

Big data will bring a constantly evolving range of file types. And your case reviews will get very complicated if your eDiscovery software can’t handle them.

If your software can’t handle new file types, then…

  1. To see what data you have, you’ll have to open each new file type in its parent application (in a separate window) and keep switching back-and-forth. If your software can handle the files then you’ll open everything from a single eDiscovery window. So, convenient!
  2. To search your data, you’ll again have to keep switching back-and-forth between parent applications, doing new searches in each of those windows. Instead, if your software can handle the files, you can use it to search through them all – regardless of their parent applications.

The solution? Find an eDiscovery service with good tech support.

That way, you’ll be able to request them to adapt their software to handle any newer file types you’re using.

Are you looking for eDiscovery software that can scale up for larger volumes of data? Try GoldFynch.

It’s part of a new generation of eDiscovery applications tailored for small and midsize law firms.

  • It costs just $27 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?