4 In-House eDiscovery Mistakes Your Company Can Avoid

06 October 2020 by Mithun in-house ediscovery

Takeaway: Moving eDiscovery in-house can save you money, but only if you sidestep these 4 mistakes: (1) Assuming in-house eDiscovery is the one best solution, (2) Assuming that getting the right eDiscovery software is enough, (3) Assuming that you need expensive software, (4) Not knowing where the real costs are hidden.

Moving eDiscovery in-house can cut costs and give you more control. But not always.

Many companies assume that moving eDiscovery in-house is always the best thing to do. And yes, it can save you a lot of money. But it’s about more than just buying eDiscovery software and hoping that everything else will fall in place. So, let’s explore some of the more common mistakes you might make when moving eDiscovery in-house.

Mistake 1: Assuming that all stages of eDiscovery are equal

eDiscovery is a long-drawn-out process with many stages. So, it’s not really about whether you can handle eDiscovery in-house. It’s about whether you can handle all the stages of eDiscovery in-house. And some are much harder than others.

The earlier stages involve finding and preserving important data, and they’re relatively easy to master.

These are things you’d have to do even if you were outsourcing eDiscovery. You’d need to track new cases, organize how and where all your data is stored, track litigation hold notices, etc. The better you do these, the more control you’ll have over eDiscovery disclosures, pleadings, and the meet-and-confer process.

But the later eDiscovery stages need a lot more finesse. And they may be a little too much for you to handle right now.

These stages include collecting, processing, and reviewing the data. They need custom tools which you’ll have to know how to use. That often means new hardware, software, and IT teams to manage them. For example, a lot goes into processing the data you collect: Your software has to detect duplicate and system files, extract metadata and embedded files, and convert all the files into a common format (learn more about eDiscovery processing). And there’s a high cost for making mistakes here. Change file metadata, for instance, and you’ll likely lose essential case-winning information. eDiscovery specialists know how to do all of this, but you might not. You can work through these challenges yourself, especially if you get the right eDiscovery software. But it’ll still take a lot of planning. And, as we’ll next see, good software alone won’t magically solve all your problems.

Mistake 2: Assuming that getting the right eDiscovery software is enough.

Bringing eDiscovery in-house can take months. And it involves more than just finding the right eDiscovery software. Rather, you’ll have to ask yourself some tough questions, such as:

  1. Do you have the right systems in place? Even the best software is only as good as the larger eDiscovery systems it’s a part of. So, do you have a good eDiscovery ecosystem? You’ll know you do if you’re able to answer these sorts of questions: When did you learn that litigation might happen? When did you put a legal hold in place? Who did you inform about this? Did these people preserve their data? How did you identify and collect that data? The list goes on, and note that none of the questions have anything to do with the software you used.
  2. Are your systems efficient? If not, you’ll lose money. For example, if you can’t put a comprehensive legal hold in place, you’ll end up paying out for spoliating evidence. Or if you don’t have a clear data retention system, you might end up drowning in the data you’ll need to review.
  3. Can you work quickly? Since most cases settle before eDiscovery is finished, you want to be able to work as quickly as possible. That’s why early case assessment (ECA) is so important. How fast are you at finding, processing, and reviewing your data?

Mistake 3: Assuming that you need expensive software.

As you put your eDiscovery systems in place, you’ll start shopping around for good eDiscovery software. It’s tempting to buy the most expensive software available, but here’s why that could be a mistake.

Many eDiscovery applications cost a lot because they come with advanced features, not because they work any better.

For example, take technology-assisted reviews (TAR) [a.k.a. computer-assisted reviews (CAR)]. Here, your software uses complex algorithms to ‘learn’ which files interest you and then starts pulling up other similar ones. We see this kind of ‘machine learning’ with apps like Netflix – where your software figures out your taste in movies and makes suggestions. With eDiscovery, machine learning is applied as ‘predictive coding,’ which means you can review thousands of GBs of documents quickly, accurately and efficiently. The thing is, features like these are built for larger law firms with massive volumes of data. So, the prices are set for these larger firms too.

Instead, search for affordable software with the right features for your needs.

For small-to-midsize law firms, this means basics like Optical Character Recognition (OCR), an ‘advanced search’ feature, quick tags, thorough redaction, and multiple production options.

Mistake 4: Not knowing where the real costs are hidden.

If you’ve not fallen for the ‘I must buy expensive software’ trap you might overcompensate and try to cut costs in the wrong places.

Some eDiscovery services offer low rates – a low ‘per-GB upload rate,’ for example. And that’s great. But it’s not the only thing that matters.

eDiscovery providers often charge à la carte for various services. So, you’ll pay to upload files, to have them OCR’d, to have them produced, to make them accessible to more than one user, and so on. And these à la carte rates can be deceiving. Take the concept of ‘per-GB rates’ for uploading files – $20 for each GB you upload, for example. When you’re trying to keep eDiscovery cost-effective, you’ll obviously look for the lowest per-GB rate, right? And yes, that’s important. But there’s something that matters more.

What really matters is how these rates translate into actual costs with a live case.

A $20 per-GB rate is great on paper, but what does it look like in real life with a case that grows and shrinks organically? Say you upload 1.5 terabytes’ worth of files into your software. At $20 a GB, that’s $30,000. Fair enough, right? At least you get what you’re paying for. But are you? Usually, you’ll end up assessing the files and deleting a bunch of data you won’t need. So, within a few days you might be down to 200 GB. But you’ve paid for 1500 GB, already! And what if you then upload more files from a different custodian and cull some from that batch, too? All this uploading and deleting is inevitable in real life and a neat per-GB rate doesn’t tell the whole story. [Note: The per-GB rate problem goes away with a simple tweak – find eDiscovery software that charges for storage space instead of uploads.]

Moving eDiscovery in-house is hard, but not that hard.

Remember that many companies and law firms have already started the process. So, invest enough time planning the transition, and you’ll be fine. All the best!

Looking for user-friendly eDiscovery software? Try GoldFynch.

It’s an eDiscovery service that prioritizes things that matter to small and midsize law firms like yours. That’s why:

  • 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 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.
  • 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. Plus, it’s designed, developed, and run by the same team. So 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. So, on a 3 GB plan, you could add and delete 5 GB of data at no extra cost – as long as there’s only 3 GB in your case at any point. And if you do cross 3 GB, your plan upgrades automatically and you’ll be charged for only the time spent on each plan. That’s the beauty of prorated pricing.
  • Access it from anywhere. And 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the Cloud.