A recent survey shows that legal professionals acknowledged the importance of controlling costs as the number one success factor in a matter. In the same way that law firms strive to demonstrate efficiency and holistic protocols internally, they also recognize the value of third-party technologies to streamline key aspects of litigation and reduce costs. With the keys to success being effective budgeting and predictability, it is a fair assumption that eDiscovery vendors touting the expert application of advanced technologies would be the most likely direction to take at the outset of a matter. But just as no two law firms are exactly the same, the diaspora of eDiscovery vendor workflows, billing models and client engagement styles can confound even the most thorough consumer.
The following 7 Ways Your eDiscovery Vendor Is Taking You To The Cleaners was written to give you some insight into the tricks of the trade and offer some basis for comparison as you weed out the good eDiscovery vendors from the bad:
In & Out per GB Data Processing
What was once a tedious computing task is now completed with the click of a button. So, why would you pay a data ingestion fee? Competitive ingestion fees are the biggest shill in eDiscovery right now. Consider a 100GB original data set ingested “in” at $75 per GB culls to 20GB at a $150 per GB “out” cost. You’ve just paid $7,500 for a software system to remove 80GB of irrelevant data and now have to pay another $3,000 to get your hands on the relevant data. Data processing alone has cost you $10,500 and you ultimately paid $225 per GB of relevant data.
With commoditization of data processing on the horizon, many forward-thinking eDiscovery vendors are shifting to a single cost per GB model based on the data that is relevant rather than forcing you to pay fees on the entire data set at the outset. This allows you to go from paying $225 per GB to as little as $100 per GB for processing.
Minimum Fees for Data Hosting
If your eDiscovery vendor is charging you monthly minimum fees for data hosting – whether its $500 or $50 per month – you should seriously reconsider the relationship. The technology around data hosting has advanced allowing eDiscovery vendors to host multiple clients on the same server while still securely and ethically segregating that data to prevent comingling. The next time your vendor mentions that the $500 minimum is for their servers, demand that they tell you exactly how much of a server you are paying for and how many other client’s data is on that same server. Unless you negotiated a dedicated server, you are probably throwing your money into a bottomless bag along with more than a handful of your peers.
Before you read this, take a look at your last invoice. If the words, “no charge” or “included” aren’t on there for data productions, then you are one of a great many professionals using a vendor service that is stuck in the stone ages. I’ve seen as much as $350 per GB charged for TIFF conversion and it is obscene. Similar to data processing, the computing power behind the latest eDiscovery platforms has compounded itself to the point that data productions have been simplified to where a good Project Manager is done in a few clicks. AND this includes all of the nickel and dime charges for PDF conversion, OCR conversion, Color Images, Bates Labeling, Branding etc. The only thing you should be paying for with productions is PM time and that should be nominal.
IST Discover-E provides a licensing for a unique instance of a Relativity processing and hosting environment, giving our clients the ability to create new cases, process an unlimited amount of data, utilize proven Early Case Assessment workflows, Image, bates label, redact and produce records hosted within Relativity. All server software and licensing is also included and maintained.
IST Discover-E Case by Case - or - Managed Services Solutions Include the following:
There is less need than ever before for you to pay a vendor to come on-site. In the past decade, ESI collection tools have evolved dramatically. Rather than manually connecting a collection device to every custodian hard drive or server to collect ESI for every new matter, new tools enable data to be collected from the entire set of data, multiple custodians and data sources using a single collection tool through your organization’s computer network.
Long-Term Data Hosting
Data hosting within your ECA or Review tool is an expense dictated by the software platform you choose and isn’t going anywhere, but advances in cloud computing have made more cost effective options available for data that must be stored for more than a few months. The availability of Nearline Storage can take your data hosting costs from $20 per GB to as little as $5 per GB while keeping your data in an accessible and secure, cloud-based server. This also eliminates double charges on your data as eDiscovery vendors re-upload or re-process in the event you have multiple cases involving the same custodian(s).
Professional Services/ Project Management Fees
Read the fine print here. What is included and what will you be billed up to $450 per hour for? (coincidentally, if you are paying more than $150 per hour, you are paying too much). Your vendor should list what is included and you shouldn’t pay extra for the following:
This is where the stark difference between an eDiscovery vendor being a contractor vs a partner rears its ugly head. These items should be a courtesy provided in your best interest and the best interest of the matter at hand – not your eDiscovery vendor’s bottom line.
If you have detected a theme in numbers one through six, then you know what to expect here. Do not allow your eDiscovery vendor to charge you for data destruction. The only redundancies built into your hosting platform were intentional and easy to find and destroy post approval. While case closing can be more complicated and require project manager time to sort or organize data based on request or physical media devices for data transmission, disposing of your data should be provided at no cost – after-all, getting rid of your data frees up space on a vendor’s servers for additional clients/matters.