This is the second in a series of three articles intended to assist with cost factors and return on investment (ROI) for e-discovery. Read the first installment here. The third article will deal with the metrics and cost of review.
E-discovery can be daunting and costly. We look to reduce review costs with predictive coding and advanced analytics and we look to reduce technology costs for processing, hosting and storage. Bringing e-discovery in-house is the right move for some but may not be for others. Sometimes, a hybrid solution works best. Since some acquisition costs are not very obvious, here is a model to help you make your decisions:
1. What’s the current cost?
What do you currently spend on e-discovery technology and what are you looking to save? Look at historical spending from past vendor and law firm invoices. For the latter you may need to tease the technology costs from the legal costs. Compare these with your projected caseload going forward to determine your average annual spend.
2. What are the priorities?
Do you want to cover the whole Electric Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) or just litigation hold, preservation and collection? Most organizations start “left” in the EDRM and move right as budget, experience and caseload increase. Do you plan to implement review capability in-house, say, for HR cases and to outsource the rest? Before you start putting out requests for proposals (RFP) and looking at vendors and software, make strategic decisions on what you want to build, how the pieces fit together and how you want to grow e-discovery in-house.
3. Is there a strategic plan for IT?
Forget for a minute that you need support from the procurement or finance departments. Is there an IT plan with components you can use? Is there movement toward single-instance email archiving, document management or enterprise search? You might find savings by combining effort.
4. Who are your users?
If your large department has, say, divisions for commercial, IP and HR litigation, are you planning for each, or are they operating independently? Do you expect to have outside counsel log into your systems? Whose buy-in do you need, and if you don’t get it, will it affect your ROI? If you are in a smaller enterprise, do you have the will to embrace an in-house system? Answering these questions help to determine the size of the e-discovery enterprise you will build.
5. Who creates and defends the process?
Too often, businesses answer this question too late. E-discovery is as much about lawyering as it is technology. If you are going to preserve, collect, store, process, cull, review or produce, counsel must explain and document how the organization will meet e-discovery legal obligations. Someone must be trained and available to testify. Paralegals, vendor and support staff can help design and optimize a workflow, but counsel must be accountable for the discovery response, both institutionally and for each case.