eDiscovery Is Changing Litigation. Is Your Firm Being Left Behind?

27 December 2023 by Ross eDiscovery litigation

Takeaway: Smaller law firms have to do more with fewer resources. The solution? (1) Choose top-tier eDiscovery software, (2) Train your workforce to use this software, (3) Share resources with other firms, and (4) Be mindful of privacy & security.

eDiscovery is throwing new challenges at small and midsize law firms.

Electronic discovery (eDiscovery) has significantly altered the landscape of litigation, particularly for small law firms. Most firms had ‘traditional’ discovery figured out because it involved paper documents. But the digitization of paper discovery has thrown a few challenges at small and midsize firms.

For one, firms have to do more with limited resources.

Cutting-edge eDiscovery tools and the infrastructure required to support them can often be expensive. And it’s expensive not just in terms of initially buying the software but also in the ongoing costs associated with licenses, updates, and maintenance. Beyond financial resources, there’s also the matter of human resources. Small firms typically have less staff, which means less workforce for the complex tasks of managing and executing eDiscovery processes. This workforce shortage can further stress the existing staff, making it near-impossible to manage large-scale or multiple eDiscovery projects simultaneously.

Then, there’s the need for specialized skills.

eDiscovery needs a blend of legal insight and technical skills. In small law firms, the existing workforce might be well-versed in traditional legal skills but may lack specialized eDiscovery knowledge. This gap includes understanding the technical aspects of data retrieval and processing, as well as the legal nuances of what electronic data is relevant and how to handle them while complying with legal standards and regulations. Plus, it takes more time and money to train existing staff or hire new talent with the right specialized skills.

Also, smaller firms are often at a tech disadvantage.

Tech inequality is the most basic challenge small firms face. Larger firms often have the budget to invest in the latest eDiscovery technologies, including advanced software for data processing, analytics, and AI-driven document review systems. These technologies make eDiscovery more efficient, accurate, and comprehensive. Smaller firms, in contrast, may have to rely on more basic or outdated tools, which can leave them disadvantaged. This affects their eDiscovery efficiency and their ability to compete for clients (who expect the most advanced and efficient eDiscovery services).

But smaller firms are adapting to these challenges in four key ways.

Bold smaller firms aren’t giving in to their larger counterparts. Instead, they’re tackling the challenge in four key ways.

1. Investing in Cloud-based eDiscovery services.

Small law firms are increasingly recognizing the need to invest in eDiscovery tools. This investment is not just financial but also strategic. By adopting eDiscovery tools, small firms can level the playing field, allowing them to handle larger, more complex cases that were previously beyond their scope. These tools can streamline discovery, making it more efficient and cost-effective. Crucially, the best tools come as Software as a Service (SaaS), where you pay a vendor to run eDiscovery software for you in the Cloud. And you access it via your web browser. Cloud eDiscovery is popular because it’s scalable, user-friendly, and gets you a good ROI.

2. Training teams to use these services.

It’s about more than just getting the right tools. It’s equally about training your workforce to use those tools. And not just the basic operational aspects of the software. They’ve also got to understand how to use it strategically in litigation. This involves understanding how data is collected, processed, reviewed, and presented. And it involves applying basic analytics to get pivotal case insights. Crucially, training should be tailored to a team’s specific roles and responsibilities. For instance, attorneys might need a different training focus compared to paralegals or IT staff. Attorneys would benefit from understanding how to use eDiscovery tools to formulate legal strategies, while paralegals might need more in-depth training on the operational aspects of the software. On the other hand, IT staff would require a deeper technical understanding of the tools, including troubleshooting and maintenance.

3. Nurturing partnerships to share resources.

Forming partnerships with other law firms or legal service providers is another strategy that small firms employ. Partnerships allow firms to share resources, allowing small firms to access tools, technology, and expertise that they do not possess in-house. This collaboration can be beneficial in handling large-scale litigation or complex cases that require a broad range of resources. A small law firm can expand its range of services by partnering with firms or providers with complementary skills or expertise. This expansion can make the firm more competitive and attract a broader client base. Also, collaborations can provide the flexibility and scalability to handle fluctuating workloads. Small firms can scale their eDiscovery capabilities up or down depending on the demands of each case without the need for permanent infrastructure or staff.

4. Being mindful of data privacy and security.

Small law firms must protect their own and their clients’ data in an increasingly complex web of regulations and standards. For example, they must ensure that their eDiscovery tools adhere to high data security standards. (This means selecting tools with robust encryption, secure data storage, and safe data transmission capabilities.) Also, eDiscovery involves various legal obligations related to data privacy and security, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and other regional and sector-specific regulations. Small firms must stay informed about these regulations and how they apply to their operations and eDiscovery processes. Remember, compliance isn’t a one-time task but an ongoing process. This involves regularly reviewing and updating policies and procedures to align with new legal requirements and industry standards. Further, they must foster a culture of security awareness within the firm. Regular reminders about best practices, updates on new threats, and discussions about data security should be part of the firm’s routine.

So, where does your firm need help? An excellent place to start is choosing a top-tier eDiscovery service.

The right eDiscovery subscription service can help ease you into the new eDiscovery landscape. Take GoldFynch, for example. It comes with a bunch of attractive advantages.

  • 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 (our average response time is 30 minutes).
  • 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?