Is It Worth Paying for eDiscovery Analytics?

01 November 2020 by Mithun ediscovery analytics

Takeaway: Analytics can help you spot patterns in eDiscovery data, but are they worth the cost? Thankfully, next-generation eDiscovery services offer essential analytics at surprisingly affordable prices. These essentials include (1) Case size, (2) Tag info, (3) File-family records, (4) Processing information, (5) Primary dates, (6) Email metadata.

What kinds of analytics do you need for eDiscovery?

eDiscovery churns up a lot of data, but data in itself isn’t useful. What you’re after is patterns in the way the data is organized, which will help you build a defensible case. And this process of analyzing patterns is called analytics. But advanced analytics like ‘predictive coding’ in a technology-assisted review (TAR) can be expensive. So, are they worth the cost? Well, it depends. If you handle massive eDiscovery cases (terabytes of data), you’ll probably need help sorting through it all. But for smaller cases (a few hundred gigabytes), you probably won’t. So instead of investing in expensive analytics, it makes more sense to find next-generation eDiscovery software that gives you essential analytics at rock-bottom prices. Here are some examples of the essentials to look out for.

1. The size of your case and the kinds of files in it.

You’ll need an overview of what’s in your case. That includes:

  1. How many documents do you have and how much space they take up? This will help you assess your case, choose your search strategy and track your data as you begin to cull files. Plus, you’ll be able to calculate your bill for eDiscovery services that charge a flat rate based only on storage space used.
  2. What kinds of files do you have? Your case will be a mix of different file types – emails, PDFs, Word documents, images, and more. So, you’ll want to have a birdseye view of the kind of data you’re dealing with. An email-heavy case, for example, will need a different approach to a PDF-heavy one.

2. The tags you’ve used and how often you’ve used them.

With paper documents, you’d use color-coded sticky notes to help categorize the files in your case. And when reviewing your data, you’d go through the documents individually, searching for the relevant sticky notes. But with electronic documents in eDiscovery, sticky notes won’t work. Instead, you’ll use ‘tags.’ Think of them as ‘virtual’ sticky notes that you attach to a document – making it easier to find. And when you’ve tagged a bunch of documents, your eDiscovery software will pull up – with a single click – all the ones with the same tag. Analytics will help you track these tags to see how many you’ve created and which ones you’ve used the most. This ‘tag frequency’ tells you a lot about the kind of evidence you have.

3. Files broken down by their roles in file families.

Your data isn’t a bunch of individual files. Rather, it’s a network of related information. And some files in this network are related more strongly than others.

File families (or document families) are groups of associated files.

The primary file in this group is called the ‘parent’, and the others, the ‘children’. So, you might have an email (the parent) and its attachments (the children). Or a Powerpoint document with embedded video clips. Or a RAR/ZIP/PST file and its ‘extracted’ files.

File families complicate eDiscovery, so you’ll want to be able to track them.

Imagine that your client asks a colleague to email her the details of a new policy change. The colleague sends the email with the subject, ‘The document you requested’, body text saying, ‘Here you go’, and an attachment marked ‘December policy change’. During eDiscovery, your software will spot the ‘child’ attachment as being responsive – because of the key phrase ‘policy change’. But it’ll overlook the email body. This becomes a problem when you’re producing files because opposing counsel will want the whole file family, not just the responsive attachment.

Here’s where a breakdown of file families will help. And analytics can give you this breakdown.

For example, it’ll help to be able to see the number of emails in your case, how many don’t have attachments, how many do, and the total number of attachments (i.e., child files).

4. The number of files that weren’t processed properly.

Your eDiscovery search engine is a powerful tool. But to get files ready for a search, your software has to ‘process’ them first. This means converting them into a common format, flagging duplicate and system files, extracting metadata and embedded files, and so on. (Learn more about eDiscovery processing.) But from time to time, there’ll be processing errors. And you’ll want a summary of these. A good eDiscovery service will be able to show you a pie chart of the number of processed vs. unprocessed files. And it’ll break down the different causes for the files not being processed. For example, it might not have been able to recognize some files, the files may have been broken, or they could have been zero-byte files.

5. The primary dates associated with each file.

Each file in your case has a primary date assigned to it – e.g., the ‘submitted’ date of a document or the ‘sent’ date of an email. These dates are part of a file’s metadata (your file’s digital footprint) and you usually won’t see them unless you know where to look. But your software’s analytics should be able to pull them up so you can spot patterns in the timeline of your files. For example, are most of the files’ dates clustered around a particular month or year? And if so, what does that imply? Ideally, you’d want a graph that breaks down date clusters by the month, year, and decade.

6. Key email metadata.

Emails are the lifeblood of most businesses and a treasure trove of vital information. So, you’ll want to see more than just their ‘primary date’ metadata. More specifically, you’ll want a breakdown of which custodians sent the most emails and which received the most. This will help you uncover patterns in the way everyone shared information and who the key players are in your case’s story. For example, if your eDiscovery analytics show that Jim Davis has received 78% of the emails in your case, that says that Jim is probably someone to pay more attention to.

eDiscovery gets simpler with analytics, but more isn’t always better.

Remember, throwing money at a case isn’t going to guarantee you better results. And this is especially true with eDiscovery analytics. If you’re a small company or firm, rather than getting the most advanced analytics available, find simple-but-powerful eDiscovery software that does the basics well.

Looking for essential eDiscovery analytics? Try GoldFynch.

It’s an eDiscovery service that’s perfect for smaller, in-house cases.

  • It costs just $10 a month for a 1 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 (1 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 1 GB plan, you could add and delete 5 GB of data at no extra cost – as long as there’s only 1 GB in your case at any point. And if you do cross 1 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.