Are You Spending Your eDiscovery Budget Wisely?

03 March 2022 by Anith eDiscovery budget

Takeaway: Law firms often overspend on the data review phase of eDiscovery. One solution is to shorten review windows by working more efficiently. But your best option is to find eDiscovery software with pricing that doesn’t penalize these longer review windows.

You’d think discovery costs would go down with modern technology. But, really, they’ve gone up.

Discovery is about exchanging information, so you’d think that technology would be the one thing to make it more efficient and cost-effective. But it hasn’t. That’s because electronically stored information (ESI) takes up much less space than paper documents, so we hoard files indiscriminately. This wouldn’t be a problem with affordable Cloud eDiscovery applications, but inefficient eDiscovery habits can wipe out your budget if you use expensive, custom software.

A Rand Institute study explored this phenomenon by looking at the cost of various eDiscovery stages.

A Rand Institute study broke down eDiscovery into its component stages to explore how much firms would spend on each stage. This meant surveying the costs associated with collection (locating and gathering ESI), processing (preparing it for review), and review (searching for and organizing responsive documents).

They found that most of an eDiscovery budget goes into processing and reviewing files.

The Rand study found that firms spend (on average) 8% of their eDiscovery budget collecting data, 19% processing it, and a whopping 73% reviewing it for relevance, responsiveness, and privilege.

So, how can firms reduce and rebalance their eDiscovery spending? One option is to outsource document review.

Many eDiscovery vendors offer legal process outsourcing (LPO) to help cut costs. Here, a third party assembles a temporary team of attorneys and paralegals to help review your data – usually for much less than you’d spend on an in-house review. For example, eDiscovery software GoldFynch offers a ‘managed review’ where a team of trained specialists explore, filter, and cull documents based on your instructions. While this is a great option for a time-strapped law firm, there’s eventually a limit to how cost-effective a team can be before sacrificing quality. So, outsourcing should be just one of many cost-cutting initiatives.

The next option is to cut down how much reading we have to do.

The Rand study explains that a reviewer can hope to cover a maximum of 100 documents every hour. That means spending just 36 seconds to decide if a document is relevant, responsive, and/or privileged. And even the fastest speed reader can’t get through more than 600 words in that time (while understanding only 50% of the content they’ve skimmed). So, there’s no way to actually read every line of text in, say, a 50+ GB case. Instead, we can rely on search engines to filter out irrelevant files. For example, we can ask our software to show us all the emails exchanged between two custodians, but only those about a particular topic (i.e., a keyword phrase) sent within a defined timespan. This saves us from manually sieving through GBs of email – reading and sorting them simultaneously. Learn more about advanced searches.

Along with reviewing less, we can review smarter.

While a search engine helps us reduce the number of files we review, many eDiscovery tools help organize these files better. For example, ‘email threading’ helps us track conversation threads – which is much more efficient than storing each email separately. Then there are eDiscovery ‘tags,’ which are virtual ‘sticky notes’ that attach to groups of similar documents, making them easier to find. Tagging documents in bulk can help you sort them into buckets to return to later. And applications like GoldFynch will automatically tag duplicate files so you can find and cull them early. Now, tagging a small group of files isn’t going to save you much time, but repeating this process dozens of times across GBs of files can tidy up a lot of chaotic data.

And finally, we can split our workload better with other team members.

Sharing the workload with a team can save us a lot of time if we have a uniform protocol to review files. For example, the Rand report highlights a study of 7 teams of attorneys tasked with judging the responsiveness of similarly-tagged documents from a set of 28,000 files. The teams gave a surprisingly wide range of answers with a 25% difference between some of their estimates. So, splitting the workload will work only if team members can communicate and standardize their tagging and review strategy via eDiscovery collaboration tools like notes, annotations, and comments.

But the best way to rebalance your budget is to find eDiscovery software with a smart pricing scheme.

Reviewing files more efficiently is an excellent start to cutting eDiscovery costs. But it’s not enough. What we really need is software that doesn’t penalize us for (inevitable) longer review times. And this is where newer storage-based pricing models can help. Traditionally, vendors would charge for each eDiscovery component, like uploading/processing files, running optical character recognition (OCR), allowing multiple users to access the data, etc. Instead, many vendors now offer all these features for free and charge only for storage. For example, if you subscribe to a 10 GB eDiscovery plan, you’d be paying only for those 10 GBs of data space, with everything else thrown in for free. (Learn more about storage-based pricing.)

Looking for budget-friendly eDiscovery software? Try GoldFynch.

GoldFynch is designed to help cut costs and redistribute your eDiscovery spending:

  • 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 files is free). So, choose from a range of plans (3 GB to 150+ GB) and know up-front how much you’ll be paying. You can upload and cull as much data as you want, as long as you stay below your storage limit. And even if you do cross the limit, you can upgrade your plan with just a few clicks. Also, 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 a 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, you get prompt and reliable tech support.
  • Access it from anywhere, and 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the Cloud.

Want to find out more about GoldFynch?