What Your Startup Needs to Know About eDiscovery
Takeaway: eDiscovery is a recurring theme for many startups, so you’ll want to track some of its current trends. And understanding an eDiscovery application’s pros and cons will ensure your attorneys are working with the best software for your needs.
Startups rely on attorneys for many routine business needs.
Small businesses like yours regularly experience the overlap between business and law. For instance, many of your day-to-day decisions depend on state-specific regulations about registering your startup, operating as a domestic corporation, navigating interstate laws, paying taxes, drafting documents like NDAs/contracts, etc. So, you’ll need attorneys who understand this business/law overlap.
At the heart of this often lies the process of eDiscovery. And it means adopting new technology and workflows.
eDiscovery (i.e., electronic discovery or e-discovery) describes the process of collecting, reviewing, and producing electronic documents. With any litigation, you’ll need to hand over relevant documents to the opposing counsel’s legal team for review. Earlier, this ‘discovery’ process involved handing over boxes full of paper files. But nowadays, with ‘electronic’ discovery, you’ll hand over gigabytes of electronically stored information (ESI) (PDFs, Word documents, spreadsheets, etc.). And this involves technology and workflows you might not yet know about.
For example, consider the complications of eDiscovery data preservation.
With disputes and lawsuits, you’ll usually receive a notice instructing you to preserve all relevant ESI. This is pretty straightforward with paper documents (you’d just make sure not to shred them), but ESI is much harder to protect. For instance, you’ll change valuable file metadata simply by moving/copying a file. Further, you’ll need to maintain a chain of custody for electronic devices (e.g., computers, external hard drives, USBs, etc.) in case any employees need to testify in court. This means tracking who handled each device, when, why, and for how long.
Requirements like these mean you’ll need experienced attorneys as guides.
There aren’t any uniform data preservation standards, so opposing counsel will often send you an overly broad or vague preservation order. For example, they might request files created years before the legal claim in question – forcing you to spend days/weeks (with associated expenses) trying to locate these files. Instead, your attorney can negotiate more specific preservation orders and even shift some costs to the requesting party.
That’s why the big firm vs. small firm debate is a hot topic amongst startups.
Large law firms can offer friendlier payment schedules, defer initial eDiscovery costs, and advise you on niche issues like international taxes. But they’ll also likely hand you over to junior associates (or even interns) you haven’t personally vetted. And they’ll charge more than their small-firm counterparts. That’s why many small businesses prefer smaller law firms with better client servicing. Either way, it’s a constant balancing act between the firm’s prices and its expertise.
But even the best attorneys succeed only with the right eDiscovery software.
Attorneys have to sift through thousands of documents to prepare for litigation. And they could theoretically do this by patching together an improvised document review platform. For instance, they could combine word processing software (e.g., Microsoft Word), an email client (e.g., Outlook), a PDF reader (e.g., Adobe Acrobat), and so on. But this isn’t as efficient as using specialized software. Software offering eDiscovery-specific tools like an advanced search engine (to find key documents and emails), document tags (to group similar files), and an eDiscovery production tool (to prepare files for external review). Learn more about why attorneys need eDiscovery software.
With eDiscovery being such a big deal, it’s worth knowing some software basics.
Attorneys rely heavily on their eDiscovery software, so anyone relying on attorneys should understand the software, too. Especially considering how top-tier software will save your attorney time and money – savings that will likely lower your eDiscovery bill. So, it’s worth covering some of the following must-haves for eDiscovery software.
1. The best eDiscovery platforms come as services, not software.
Next-generation eDiscovery platforms don’t come as software you download and install. Instead, they’re services an eDiscovery provider offers via the Cloud. So the provider runs the software online (installing updates, security patches, etc.) while you log into it via your web browser. And since cloud computing works by efficiently sharing servers and other resources, your monthly eDiscovery bill shrinks significantly. Also, with end-to-end cloud hosting, you can decide how much (or little) you want to handle and outsource the rest. Learn more about the Software as a Service (SaaS) business model.
2. The best pricing plans are simple, predictable, and let you start working immediately.
Older eDiscovery applications would offer à la carte pricing, charging piecemeal for each eDiscovery stage. So you’d pay for law firms to collect, process, review, and produce your data – with no accountability or reasoning behind their prices. Nowadays, the best eDiscovery services have websites that make things much more transparent. You’ll go to their pricing page, choose an eDiscovery plan, and pay an affordable, all-inclusive, monthly subscription fee. No negotiations, sales calls, or hidden extra costs. You’ll be able to start working immediately, knowing exactly how much you’ll pay at the month’s end. Learn more about eDiscovery pricing.
3. The best branding options are a win-win for you and your attorneys.
Law firms are often reluctant to try new eDiscovery services because they’re worried the software will overshadow their brand. But the best services offer brand-neutral eDiscovery. For instance, eDiscovery service GoldFynch shifts focus from its software to your attorney’s value-added services. This means your attorney gets to use the software, build defensible cases, and cut costs – all while imprinting GoldFynch with their firm’s brand colors, logo, etc. So, you hand over the eDiscovery chores to your attorney, they hand over the technology chores to GoldFynch, and GoldFynch acknowledges your attorney’s efforts by giving them branding rights. It’s a win for everyone!
Explore GoldFynch to learn more about your eDiscovery options.
GoldFynch is a Cloud eDiscovery service for law firms that handle startups like yours. It’s cost-effective, easy to use, brand-neutral, and something your attorneys can switch to in minutes. So, send them the GoldFynch website link to start a discussion about the best low-cost software for your needs. The highlights of GoldFynch are that:
- It costs just $25 a month for a 3 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. With GoldFynch, you know exactly what you’re paying for: 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?
For related posts about eDiscovery, check out the following links.
- A Complete Glossary of Essential eDiscovery Terms
- A Quick Primer on GoldFynch’s eDiscovery Software
- How to Download eDiscovery Data Remotely Using ‘eDiscovery Collect.’
- A Free PST Analyzer to Check If Your eDiscovery PSTs Are Intact
- Use This In-Browser PST Viewer to Explore Your eDiscovery Emails For Free
- The Secret to Choosing the Best Low-Cost eDiscovery Software for Your Small Law Firm
- How To Make Your eDiscovery Productions Less Hackable
- Is Social Media the Future of eDiscovery?