The Top 5 Factors to Consider When It Comes to eDiscovery Costs

  • Will Pfeifer
  • March 30, 2021

Is your legal team at its wits’ end with eDiscovery management? If so, you may be in dire need of a new platform to manage data during legal proceedings.

In fact, what your team needs is a platform that can rapidly process large data sets with minimal oversight and minimal back-end administrative support. At the same time, the right platform would also enable you to keep costs under control. 

Unfortunately, eDiscovery platforms are notorious for containing hidden complexities. And that can make sourcing the right one a difficult order. Accordingly, there are many factors to consider when searching for the right platform and comparing eDiscovery costs across vendors. 

Top eDiscovery Cost Factors to Know About

Due to the complex nature of the discovery process, deploying an eDiscovery platform is a bit different than using a typical SaaS product. As such, it’s important to look beyond licensing costs alone and consider additional factors at play. 

Here’s a breakdown of what you should look for when sourcing an eDiscovery platform:

1. Data Management Costs

Data volumes can quickly increase during any court case. To illustrate, a court case may contain thousands or even millions of pages of documents, amounting to hundreds of gigabytes or even terabytes of data. 

Vendors often charge by the gigabyte (more on this below). And costs can vary significantly for tasks such as data ingestion, deduplication, email threading, metadata extraction, and TIFFing. 

In addition, some vendors may tack on an hourly rate for project management. Therefore, it’s critical to understand how a vendor bills for both data and project management. Set clear terms with the vendor to avoid ending up with massive bills.

2. Uptime and Availability

Not all platforms excel at processing large data sets. In fact, many are prone to crashing or not processing certain common data types. This is especially true among low-end or older legacy platforms, which lack processing power, strong supporting databases, and underlying processes.

Platforms that are prone to crashing or getting knocked offline unexpectedly can delay projects and court cases—upsetting stakeholders and clients. In some cases, downtime can also be grounds for court sanctions, leading to negative consequences for legal professionals and poor reviews for law firms. 

After all, most judges have little patience for delays resulting from platform inefficiencies. Instead, they expect legal teams to come to the table prepared to present their cases. 

3. Processing Time

It’s also important to factor in the cost of processing time during a lawsuit. Processing time can vary across eDiscovery platforms, slowing down workflows and potentially delaying court proceedings—taking a bigger bite out of your budget.

In fact, it’s common for eDiscovery vendors to take weeks to process legal data. Of course, legacy software can take a long time to process data as well. 

4. Performance 

Ultimately, the eDiscovery platform your team uses can make or break court cases. Using the wrong platform can lead to losses in court—a harbinger of expensive corporate lawsuits. 

For you and your team to avoid this fate, information ingestion needs to occur rapidly. And team members need to be able to access it on demand. 

Using a platform with limited tools and accessibility can make it difficult for legal teams to stay organized and on-track. To avoid this, look for a platform that contains interactive early case assessment (ECA) dashboards and native redaction tools. 

In addition, the platform should also have integration with Office 365, workflow automation, and strong processing throughput and scalability.

5. Employee Retention

Top legal professionals expect to use high-performing eDiscovery software to put them in the best possible position to win. Nobody likes spending long periods waiting for data processing to clear and then cramming for a court case. 

Simply put, efficiency is critical for success. 

Using budget-grade e-Discovery software can make it harder to attract and retain talented legal professionals and clients. This can lead to financial disaster for a law firm.

In-House vs. Outsourced eDiscovery

While comparing eDiscovery costs among different vendors, you may wonder whether it’s a good idea to outsource operations or keep them in-house. 

Your team may prefer to keep your software on-site to protect data, maintain control over your infrastructure, and reduce costs. Yet it’s important to weigh this decision carefully. 

Here are a few things to consider as you begin figuring out which solution is best for your business. 

Maintenance 

Do you want your IT team to maintain your system? Or would you be better off trusting a team of professionals that makes the actual product to do that for you?

No eDiscovery software or system is perfect. Most platforms require regular maintenance, which is especially important when it comes to security patching. You need to constantly scan platforms that store sensitive legal data for vulnerabilities and update them to prevent breaches from occurring. After all, these platforms are often top targets for cybercriminals, especially during high-profile court cases.

Chances are the security of your eDiscovery platform may not be the highest priority for your organization, especially if you’re using a variety of other programs. Choosing to keep your solution in-house on your own servers can put an extra burden on your IT team—driving up IT costs and exposing your organization to risk. However, sometimes security requirements necessitate that data be stored on-premises. As a result, it is important to have an eDiscovery platform that has the flexibility for hosting data on-premises, in the cloud, or a hybrid approach.

Deployment and Access

These days, it’s likely that your legal team works from remote offices. This can make it harder for your IT team to deploy software, issue security updates, and prevent data sprawl.

Using a SaaS solution that can be easily distributed through the cloud solves these problems. The right platform will offer secure access and include data transfer protocols with strong access management controls.

Data Storage 

If you manage your software in-house, your team is going to be responsible for storing, organizing, maintaining, and transferring data. 

You’ll need to use on-site servers or outsource storage to a third-party cloud provider. And both of those options can be risky and expensive. 

By using a SaaS provider’s eDiscovery solution, you can potentially save money, reduce back-end work, and receive SLA-backed quality and compliance guarantees. 

Licensing Models to Know About 

Now that you’re aware of the top costs and considerations for sourcing and deploying eDiscovery software, here’s an overview of the licensing models you can expect. 

Model 1: Traditional

The traditional model involves using line-item pricing for each activity. For example, this may include ingestion, storage, and data transmission. 

Model 2: Fixed Fee Per Matter

In this model, the vendor charges a fixed fee per matter or per data custodian

Model 3: Fixed Fee Upon Ingestion 

A fixed fee upon ingestion model entails providing a vendor with all of your data and receiving a flat cost per gigabyte to manage it. The vendor then manages it for the duration of the court case and charges your company at the end.

Model 4: Fixed Fee for Reviewable Content 

This model involves charging a fixed fee on a per-document or per-gigabyte basis after the data has been culled through an early case assessment process. 

Venio’s Approach to eDiscovery

Venio Systems offers an automated processing and AI-powered review platform for legal discovery teams. The platform is suitable for a range of settings across the eDiscovery industry—from corporations to law firms and eDiscovery service providers. 

Venio specializes in providing lightning-fast eDiscovery processing, with up to 10 times faster processing at up to 10 terabytes per day. The platform lets you simultaneously process multiple media and job types and reorder jobs without risk of data loss or rework. You’ll also benefit from bank-level security and cloud-scale infrastructure—future-proofing your legal team’s needs. 

In addition, the platform can significantly reduce e-Discovery expenses. That’s because it’s a pure SaaS-based model with flexible, elastic licensing that can keep pace with your legal team’s growth. 

Are you ready to get started with the most cost-effective and secure approach to e-Discovery? Request a demo of Venio today.

This post was written by Justin Reynolds. Justin is a freelance writer who enjoys telling stories about how technology, science, and creativity can help workers be more productive. In his spare time, he likes seeing or playing live music, hiking, and traveling.