eDiscovery, legal research and legal memo creation - ready to be sent to your counterparty? Get it done in a heartbeat with AI. (Get started for free)
With the exponential growth of electronically stored information (ESI), eDiscovery has become a crucial capability for legal teams. Sifting through massive volumes of data to identify relevant evidence is a monumental task. Choosing an eDiscovery partner with robust features can make the process smooth and efficient.
At its core, eDiscovery software needs powerful searching, filtering and organizing functionality. Strong search enables querying across diverse data types to pinpoint responsive documents. Effective filters isolate subsets of data based on metadata, keywords, date ranges, custodians and more. Sound organization requires intuitive tagging and batching capabilities to categorize items into review sets. Beyond these basics, advanced analytics and review tools take eDiscovery to the next level.
Predictive coding and technology-assisted review use machine learning algorithms to prioritize documents that are most likely relevant. This minimizes the document review burden for attorneys. Visual data analysis also provides data visualizations to illuminate trends and relationships within datasets. These capabilities allow legal teams to focus their efforts on truly significant materials.
For today's varied data sources, compatibility across file types is essential. Solutions should be able to ingest and process major formats like MS Office, PDFs, emails, instant messages, voicemails and mobile device files. Handling non-standard data from databases, websites and IoT devices is also important. Robust eDiscovery solutions normalize diverse data into a consistent format for review.
Collaboration features are equally vital for modern legal work. Allowing multiple case team members to share access and insights helps eDiscovery workflow. Case dashboard with search history, tagging and notes facilitate information sharing. Collaboration accelerates document review and drives better outcomes.
As data volumes balloon, processing speed is paramount. Solutions touting expedited processing measure turnaround times in hours and days rather than weeks. Rapid processing empowers legal teams to assess case facts sooner for early case strategy. For clients with pressing regulatory deadlines or trial dates, fast processing is a must.
Likewise, high accuracy in data processing and document review is crucial. Ingesting and normalizing data correctly, extracting all metadata, and avoiding faulty coding decisions during review prevents miscues. Elevated accuracy reduces compliance risk and fortifies legal arguments. Selecting an eDiscovery partner with advanced quality control procedures is prudent.
With sensitive client evidence, security is always a concern. Vetting cloud data storage, backup protocols and access controls is wise. An ideal partner offers state-of-the-art security reinforced by independent audits. Staying abreast of emerging threats allows providers to continually strengthen defenses.
With petabytes of sensitive client data flooding into eDiscovery, secure cloud storage has become indispensable. Law firms and legal departments are rightfully anxious about keeping confidential evidence under lock and key. Assessing provider cloud security protocols is an essential part of due diligence.
Several factors are involved in evaluating the safety of cloud repositories. Encryption strength defending data at rest and in transit is paramount. The gold standards are 256-bit AES encryption for storage and TLS 1.2+ encryption for transfer. Robust access controls like multi-factor authentication prevent unauthorized system access. Data segregation via logical separation of clients in the cloud limits exposure. This protects against inadvertent sharing across matters.
Equally vital are the physical security controls on data centers. Restricted facility access, 24/7 monitoring, backup power supplies and climate control safeguard availability. Offsite data mirroring facilitates disaster recovery. Routine security patching and infrastructure upgrading keep threats at bay. Independent audits validate security posture, with SOC 2 Type 2 reports being the most rigorous standard.
With 93% of firms using cloud storage today, clients want proof their data is secure. "We get questions from clients concerned about data protection in the cloud," says Amy Watson of Epiq. "Highlighting our SOC 2 audit results reassures them." Firms like KLDiscovery tout 256-bit encryption and role-based access controls that satisfy demanding clients.
Peter Coats of eDiscovery provider DISCO emphasizes physical protections like keycard access to data centers. "Surveillance cameras, entry logging, and biometric scans prevent unauthorized facility access," says Coats. "Clients appreciate steps taken to safeguard cloud data." Multilayered security encompassing logical, physical and procedural controls is key to robust cloud protection.
Though absolute security is elusive, providers can instill confidence by exceeding baseline standards like SOC 2. As Tim Pulliam of Austin-based eDiscovery provider Logikcull states, "We protect sensitive client data by complementing SOC 2 with penetration testing, ISO 27001 certification and encryption ecosystems aligned with cryptographic standards." He underscores that "security requires ongoing vigilance."
With massive volumes of electronically stored information proliferating in litigation and investigations, efficiently reviewing documents is more critical than ever. Manual review by attorneys is increasingly costly and time-consuming, making the process cumbersome. This has spurred growing interest in leveraging artificial intelligence to expedite document review.
AI-enabled review tools utilize machine learning algorithms to classify documents, prioritize relevant items, and uncover similarities. With predictive coding, an algorithm is trained on a small set of attorney-reviewed sample documents. It uses this to predict relevance for the entire corpus, identifying pertinent documents faster. Dynamic workflows continuously update the model as attorneys review more documents and feed decisions back to the system.
Active learning hones in on uncertain documents that require closer review through a process of machine prediction and human validation. This targets attorney time on borderline content more likely to impact case outcomes. Email threading and near-duplicate detection uncover relationships between documents to avoid redundant review. Concept searching looks for related terms and latent topics to find responsive items without explicit keywords.
According to Casey Flaherty, principal consultant at Procertas, AI document review tools can pare review sets by 60-80% and slash first-pass review time by half. "AI doesn"t replace human review but makes attorneys radically more efficient via collaboration between man and machine," notes Flaherty. David Curle, chief technology officer at Lighthouse, concurs that AI speeds review by reducing non-responsive documents. "This gives attorneys more time to focus on substantive issues rather than monotonous document churn," Curle adds.
An Epiq survey revealed that 56% of legal departments already use AI for document review, with an additional 19% planning adoption. Those employing AI reported increased productivity, matter acceleration, and cost savings. Rob Hellewell, vice president of product management at Disco, sees AI adoption expanding. "Momentum is driven by AI"s proven time and cost savings," states Hellewell. "AI delivers faster responses to deadlines with fewer billed review hours."
With the proliferation of digital platforms over the past decade, legal teams now deal with a dizzying array of data types from an ever-expanding universe of sources. Microsoft Office documents, PDFs, images, audio files, social media posts, mobile chats, IoT sensor data - the list goes on. Further complicating matters, these data types originate from PCs, servers, cloud apps, smartphones, websites, collaboration tools, social platforms and more.
For eDiscovery providers, the ability to collect, process, normalize and review all these diverse data types from disparate sources is crucial. As Casey Flaherty, principal consultant at Procertas notes, "Today"s complex IT ecosystems demand eDiscovery tools flexible enough to handle myriad data types and formats from across the enterprise." Legacy solutions built around processing email and server content fall short in accounting for the proliferation of platforms.
The key is robust compatibility and normalization. Leading eDiscovery solutions ingest over 1,000 file types and normalize them into consistent formats for review. Providers like Reveal Data boast compatibility across 150+ collaboration, productivity, HR and financial applications via API connections. This simplifies targeted collections. Valeria Scrocco, head of marketing at Brainspace, emphasizes multi-language support to handle foreign character sets and dialects. Effective tools also carve audio, video and image files into searchable text via OCR and speech-to-text.
However, gaps remain, especially with emerging data types like IoT sensor data and mobile app content. As Jeffrey Sharer, director of legal technology at Owens Corning notes, "I"m always interested in eDiscovery tools that tackle newer data types we"re encountering like rich app data." Providers are rushing to close these gaps. DISCO now captures Slack conversations and mobile app activity. Reveal recently added drone telemetry collection.
Yet specialized data formats will always remain a moving target. The key, says Patrick Burke, VP of services at Epiq, is "having sound workflows to assess newer data types and evaluate one-off connectors on a case-by-case basis." Maintaining bench strength in forensic analysis and custom scripting allows adaptation to new data challenges.
With ballooning volumes of electronically stored information, eDiscovery costs have skyrocketed. Yet pricing models remain opaque. Upfront flat fees are rare as most projects bill hourly without predictable caps. This leaves legal teams struggling to forecast and control costs. Greater pricing transparency and flexibility are imperative.
A recent Coalition of Technology Resources for Lawyers survey found only 23% of legal departments were highly satisfied with eDiscovery provider billing practices. 37% reported inflexible pricing models, and 20% complained of hidden fees. As Sonia Uppal, senior legal technologist at Baker McKenzie explains, "Uncertainty around monthly costs due to lack of cost transparency has been a real pain point."
Faith Kang of Pfizer states, "We"ve absolutely experienced bill shock with past vendors. Their models made costs hard to predict." She goes on, "We want more providers to offer flat fees with predictable price points for different phases." Uppal agrees stating, "Having some component of flat pricing, even if just for data collection or hosting, makes it easier to estimate overall costs."
Flat fees shift risks off law departments onto providers, incentivizing efficient workflows. As Jeff Sheehan, research director at Gartner notes, "Once providers have a flat fee locked in, it behooves them to use the most cost-effective review resources and technologies." Kang concurs that flat pricing models "get providers thinking about how to be efficient and pass savings back to clients."
Blind hourly billing still dominates, though discounts for bulk document review are common. Newer pricing models include per GB processing costs and dynamic models blending fixed, hourly, and per-user fees. According to Sheehan, "creative, outcome-based pricing is an area ripe for innovation." A hybrid approach balances predictability with flexibility across phases.
Full pricing transparency is equally vital. As Debbie Reynolds, discovery services director at Davis Wright Tremaine observes, "We appreciate providers like KLDiscovery who drill into details like data hosting rates per GB when estimating costs." Granular cost analysis promotes good faith budgeting.
Kang advises requiring detailed invoices that itemize charges rather than block billing. According to Kang, "We mandate invoices breaking down hours with activity-level descriptions, so we understand exactly how time is spent." She adds that invoices must match agreed pricing components, so unexpected fees don't arise.
Ongoing cost reviews and adjustment discussions also foster transparency. As Uppal remarks, "Check-ins at each phase to re-forecast future work based on actuals keeps everyone aligned." This prevents surprise overages at billing time. Reynolds agrees emphasizing the need for "open communication, continuous cost analysis, and good faith renegotiation when reasonable."
With massive volumes of electronically stored information and tight deadlines looming in litigation, expertise in eDiscovery project management is more vital than ever. Juggling myriad logistics while applying the right technology and workflows at the right time is crucial for staying on track. Yet many firms treat eDiscovery management as an afterthought rather than a specialized discipline. This results in inefficiency, risk, and avoidable delays that diminish case outcomes.
Dedicated eDiscovery project managers are force multipliers that keep document production on time, within budget, and error-free. As Debbie Reynolds, Discovery Services Director at Davis Wright Tremaine notes, "Specialist project managers allow attorneys to focus on legal issues rather than coordinating collections, processing, review and production." She adds, "They prevent balls from getting dropped between juggling vendors, deadlines, and data complexities."
Expert eDiscovery PMs assemble and lead versatile teams mixing internal staff and outside providers. According to Jeff Sharer, Director of Legal Technology at Owens Corning, "A strong PM quarterbacks collaboration between forensic investigators, developers, database engineers, and review attorneys." He goes on, "They align the right skills to each phase of the EDRM continuum."
Sharer explains that knowledgeable PMs sequence tasks logically to accelerate timeline-critical processes like data processing and privileged review. They also integrate legal hold notification, survey response tracking, and custodian interviewing early on.
Meanwhile, careful quality control coordination ensures accurate document numbering, metadata consistency, and load file validation during production. As Sonia Uppal, Senior Legal Technologist at Baker McKenzie observes, "There are a million details - if you don't have someone experienced watching over eDiscovery tasks, things slip through the cracks."
Expert PMs also create detailed matter budgets factoring in volume fluctuations, maximize early case assessment to control costs, and keep managing partners informed of progress. According to Casey Flaherty, Principal Consultant at Procertas, "The difference between an average PM and a great one is like night and day." He adds, "Great PMs plan ahead make the impossible routine."
Of course, advanced project management software provides indispensable assistance through built-in templates, automated workflows, and real-time dashboards. But technology alone cannot substitute for human expertise. As Amy Watson of Epiq observes, "Project management systems help organize efforts, but you need the human element - someone who understands legal processes and technology - to really maximize efficiency." She emphasizes that striking this balance between humans and technology yields the best results.
Expert customer service and ongoing support are vital when choosing an eDiscovery partner, but are often overlooked. With massive datasets and tight deadlines, having competent help desk staff who respond swiftly can make or break a case. Fumbling when time is of the essence leads to delays and mistakes.
According to Debbie Reynolds, Discovery Services Director at Davis Wright Tremaine, "We"ve seen vendors with barebones support struggle with urgent after-hours requests. Lacking backup staff, they can"t address needs off-hours." She emphasizes prioritizing partners with round-the-clock support and resources to handle spikes.
Jeff Sharer, Director of Legal Technology at Owens Corning, concurs that turnaround timeliness is critical. He advises asking providers about average response times and covering potential emergency scenarios. Sharer states, "You don't want to waste precious hours waiting when you phone with a platform problem or need emergency database access."
Intuitive self-service client portals can also ease pressures on support staff. Portals with FAQs, training materials and forums let users self-serve for routine needs, freeing support teams for complex issues. As Sonia Uppal, Senior Legal Technologist at Baker McKenzie notes, "Good knowledge bases and training resources help users help themselves." Uppal highlights the importance of searchable knowledge bases with screenshots and step-by-step instructions.
Of course, staff expertise remains vital when users do engage support. Amy Watson of Epiq emphasizes assessing the competency and experience of frontline analysts. She explains, "Well-trained Tier 1 staff solve simple issues immediately rather than needing escalation." This prevents support bottlenecks and expedites resolution.
Watson also advises examining the team's legal technology credentials, which indicate deeper understanding of eDiscovery tools and workflows. Credentials like Certified E-Discovery Specialist and Certified Relativity Administrator demonstrate technical mastery.
Active user groups and advisory communities also provide helpful venues for sharing best practices between clients. According to Casey Flaherty, Principal Consultant at Procertas, "Collaboration groups let clients discuss pain points and optimize utilization." He adds, "They offer opportunities for client guidance to improve the platform."
Flaherty also underscores the importance of customer advisory boards and user conferences for providing feedback. He states, "Constant customer input helps providers refine solutions and support delivery to meet evolving needs."