eDiscovery Pricing Comparison for Smaller, In-House Cases
Takeaway: eDiscovery pricing is either ‘à la carte’ or ‘flat-rate’. Under flat-rate, you can pay for (1) Uploads, (2) Storage, or (3) Number of custodians. The kind of pricing plan you choose will depend on your specific needs, but most small-to-midsize law firms and companies prefer flat-rate, storage-based pricing.
If you’re looking for the best eDiscovery software, you’ve probably come across different pricing models.
The technology behind electronic discovery is new to most of us. But the pricing models for this tech can be just as confusing. The problem is that there’s no one ‘best’ model. It all depends on what’s best for you. For example, if you’re a large law firm, you’ll probably want advanced features like a technology-assisted review (TAR) to help you with your massive cases. And you’ll be willing to pay much more for these extras. But smaller law firms with small in-house matters have different priorities. You’ll want all the best features but at affordable prices.
It’s hard to compare pricing models that charge for different types of services. But a good start is to know the pros and cons of each option.
Here’s a quick overview of the general pricing models you’ll see.
1. À la carte pricing: Paying for each eDiscovery step.
This is how vendors traditionally charged for eDiscovery. They’d take the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) and charge piecemeal for each part of the process. So, you’d pay separately for data collection, processing, review, and production. Granted, you’d get an impressive array of features – like Optical Character Recognition (OCR) , deduplication, search filters, and even TAR – but it would be hard to predict what your final eDiscovery bill would be. This model was a first step towards transparency, though, because you could at least see what you were paying for. Still, it’s not what most people would be willing to do today, because of the following, newer pricing strategy.
2. Flat-rate pricing: Paying for a particular aspect of eDiscovery.
Small-to-midsize law firms need predictable pricing. So, eDiscovery vendors began to bundle their services and charge a flat rate for them. So, instead of paying for each EDRM stage, you’ll pay for just one of the following.
- Pay for what you upload: With this option, you pay only for what you upload. That might mean paying per gigabyte of data you upload or per document you upload. And you might choose to pay a default base rate, paying extra only if you cross your upload limit.
- Pay for what you store: Instead of tracking what you upload, your provider will track how much storage space you use. So, you’ll choose a plan (e.g., for 3 GB of storage space) and pay only for that. So you can upload and/or delete as much data as you want as long as you don’t exceed the 3 GB limit you’re paying for. Even if you cross this limit, your software will automatically upgrade you to the next higher plan (5 GB of storage space, for example).
- Pay per custodian: Here you’ll pay for the number of custodians connected to your case. Often, this per-custodian metric is used as an add-on fee for upload- or storage-based pricing.
So what’s the best pricing plan for you? If you’re a smaller firm or company with smaller in-house cases, your best bet is a flat-rate storage-based pricing plan.
Paying flat rates is obviously simpler than figuring out the details of à la carte pricing. But which type of flat-rate pricing is best for you? Here’s a short breakdown:
- Paying per custodian works if you have only a few custodians, each with large amounts of data. That way, you’ll save on storage costs. But it’s not worth it if you have many custodians, each with small amounts of data.
- Paying for uploads works only if you know exactly what data you’ll be reviewing. If you have only a few gigabytes of data and know for sure that you’ll need all of it, then paying for uploads lets you know up-front what you’ll be paying. But eDiscovery is rarely clearly defined. Usually, you’ll go through many cycles of uploading and deleting as you explore your case. So you’ll be paying for data you won’t end up using. (Read our blog post about the problems with upload-based pricing.)
- Paying for storage works best because it’s both predictable and flexible. It’s predictable because you choose a storage plan in advance, so you know what your monthly bill will be. And it’s flexible because you can add and delete as much data as you want without being penalized for that fluctuation. And you can add and delete custodians too, without worrying about that number. The storage space is yours and you get to do whatever you want with it. Plus, with Cloud eDiscovery, this storage space is surprisingly affordable.
Whichever pricing plan you choose, make sure you read the small print.
Crafty eDiscovery vendors often promise predictable pricing but slip in sneaky pricing-traps. For example, they might charge per-GB for uploads, but tack on hidden ‘extras’ like charges for audit logs or behind-the-scenes databases. So it’s worth spending a bit of time up front to confirm what you’re paying for.
Looking for all-inclusive, transparent eDiscovery pricing? Try GoldFynch.
It’s an easy-to-use eDiscovery service that’s perfect for small- and midsize law firms and companies.
- 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.
For related posts about eDiscovery, check out the following links.
- eDiscovery Overload: What to Do When Your Small Law Firm Has Too Much to Handle
- 5 eDiscovery Trends Your Small Law Firm Can’t Afford to Miss
- Have You Optimized eDiscovery to Retain Clients for Your Small Law Firm?
- 5-Minute eDiscovery: How to Save Time and Money for Your Small Law Firm
- [Uncovered] eDiscovery Myth: Small Law Firms Can’t Handle Large Cases [over 100 GB]
- 16 Have-to-Know Questions to Simplify eDiscovery for Your Small Law Firm
- 8 Common eDiscovery Mistakes Your Small Law Firm May be Making