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How Legal Teams Can Leverage Technology to Minimize eDiscovery Costs

10/18/2018 5:00:00 AM

With the advance of greater technologies, many legal cases rely on information stored in electronic formats. This information is requested or pulled for discovery purposes.

However, many legal teams are falling short in fully implementing the latest technology to more efficiently work through the discovery process. They may only use basic technology when more advanced options are available.

Additionally, the costs of eDiscovery can sometime be exorbitant with the greatest burden being associated with the review of documents. Some ways that legal teams can leverage technology to minimize the costs associated with eDiscovery include:

Issue a General Litigation Hold Notice

If you are representing a company that you suspect may be sued for a particular matter, you may wish to issue a general litigation hold notice, which informs staff not to delete any information from the organization’s system since it may be necessary for the discovery process.

If you are representing the plaintiff, you may wish to send a spoliation letter to the adverse party or government agency that states the possibility of litigation and asking them to preserve information.

According to the Aberdene Group, only 29% of organizations have software in place to notify employees of legal holds. When this information is not efficiently disseminated to employees, there is a risk that evidence will be deleted, which can cause the organization to be assessed fines and subject to other negative consequences.

Legal hold management tools help prevent the spoliation of evidence by using processes that preserves evidence “in-place” preventing routine deletion to occur.

Use Technology-Assisted Review

Technology-assisted review allows organizations to use algorithms allowing an eDiscovery application to identify relevant documents without further human assistance. This technology is derived from subject matter experts who have reviewed and reclassified documents over time as part of an index in order to help calibrate the algorithm.

eDiscovery tools search through a massive set of data and finding relevant documents in a fraction of the time that a human reviewer would need. The results are often much more accurate than they would be if reviewed by a human. Some estimates show that employing this technology alone can yield savings of up to 30% on the total review costs when compared to a firm that uses a traditional linear review by contract attorneys.

According to the Aberdeen Group, only about 29% of legal teams have adopted this technology into their discovery processing. Leveraging this technology can have a significant impact on the efficiency of your eDiscovery process.

Narrow Down the Search

Approximately 73% of eDiscovery costs are due to the review phase, according to the RAND Institute for Civil Justice.

While most companies have leveraged technologies to look for all potentially relevant documents on various platforms and devices like mobile phones, tablets, computers, social media channels, backup tapes and more, many litigation teams simply have not harnessed technology to dwindle down results.

The review phase helps to determine if electronic documents are responsive, privileged or confidential. However, there is often a staggering volume of information from which the litigation team must sift. Some ways to narrow the search include:

Use Direct Connectors

Direct connectors (API’s) allow litigation teams to directly search for and access data rather than having to rely exclusively on their information technology team to export data for them and then import this data into the eDiscovery platform.

These API’s help save time and manual labor associated with eDiscovery processing. It also helps to speed up the collection of relevant data during early stages of discovery. Additionally, this process minimizes the likelihood that key data will be left off a request due to a miscommunication between legal staff and IT staff.

Despite these benefits, only about 27% of companies use this option to automate their collection of data.

Avoid Unnecessary Files

eDiscovery fees may be based on the number of gigabytes or the number of files extracted. Therefore, it is a sensible cost-saving solution to minimize the number of files collected during this process.

Usually software-related files are not necessary for eDiscovery purposes, so using technology that can detect these files, skip them and only extract the necessary files can help to significantly reduce associated costs.

Eliminate Duplicates

There may be many duplicate files that contain the same information, but only one copy is necessary for eDiscovery purposes. Technological applications are available to eliminate duplicates without having to lose any of the information that is contained within the duplicates. Because reviewers have fewer documents to analyze, cost savings are realized.

Similarly, technology allows individuals to extract threads of emails and messages together, which makes it easier to understand the entire conversation and reduces the number of documents that are involved in the review process.

Ask for Help with Your eDiscovery

Before trying to handle all eDiscovery matters alone, ask for help. Talk to the key custodians and explain what the case is about and relevant information.

Consult your IT specialists or trusted vendor for further assistance. They may be able to create a data map, which is a high-level overview of the existing IT systems in place. IT can help identify important data and how to locate it. If you are not familiar with your eDiscovery management console or document management system, IT may be able to familiarize you with this content.

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