Legal professionals often take for granted that the eDiscovery software they leverage in-house must come with capability tradeoffs (i.e., if the production capability is easy to use, then the analytics tools are lacking; if the processing functionality is fast and robust, then the document review platform is clunky and hard to leverage, etc.).
The idea that these tradeoffs are unavoidable may be a relic passed down from the history of eDiscovery. The discovery phase of litigation didn’t involve “eDiscovery” until the 1990s/early 2000s, when the dramatic increase in electronic communication led to larger volumes of electronically stored information (ESI) within organizations. This gave rise to eDiscovery software that was designed to help attorneys and legal professionals process, review, analyze, and produce ESI during discovery. Back then, these software platforms were solely hosted and handled by technology providers that weren’t yet focused entirely on the business of eDiscovery. Because both the software and the field of eDiscovery were new, the technology often came with a slew of tradeoffs. At the time, attorneys and legal professionals were just happy to have a way to review and produce ESI in an organized fashion, and so took the tradeoffs as a necessary evil.
But eDiscovery technology, as well as legal professionals’ technological savvy, has advanced light years beyond where it was even five years ago. Many firms and organizations now have the knowledge and staff needed to move to a “self-service” eDiscovery model for some or all of their matters – and eDiscovery technology has advanced enough to allow them to do so.
Unfortunately, despite these technological advancements, the tradeoffs that were so inherent in the original eDiscovery software still exist in some self-service eDiscovery platforms. Today, these tradeoffs often occur when technology providers attempt to develop all the technology required in an eDiscovery platform themselves. The eDiscovery process requires multiple technologies and services to perform drastically different and overlapping functions – making it nearly impossible for one company to design the best technology for each and every eDiscovery function, from processing to review to analytics to production.
To make matters worse, the ramifications of these tradeoffs are much wider than they were a decade ago. Datasets are much larger and more diverse than ever before – meaning that technological gaps that cause inefficiency or poor work product will skyrocket eDiscovery costs, amplify risk, and create massive headaches for litigation teams. But because these types of tradeoffs have always existed in one form or another since the inception of eDiscovery, legal professionals still tend to accept them without question.
But rest assured best-in-class technology does exist now for each eDiscovery function. The trick is being able to identify the functionality that is most important to your firm or organization, and then select a self-service eDiscovery platform that ties all the best technology for those functions together under one seamless user interface.
Below are three key steps to prepare for the research and purchasing process that will help drastically minimize the tradeoffs that many attorneys have grown accustomed to dealing with in self-service eDiscovery technology. Before you begin to research eDiscovery software, you’ve got to fully understand your firm or organization’s needs. This means finding out what eDiscovery technology capabilities, functionality, and features are most important to all relevant stakeholders. To do so:
Talk to your legal professionals and lawyers about what they like and dislike about the current technology they use.
Don’t be surprised if users have different (or even opposing) positions depending on how they use the software. One group may want a review platform that is scaled down without a lot of bells and whistles, while another group heavily relies on advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. This is common, especially among groups that handle vastly different matter types, and can actually be a valuable consideration during the evaluation process. For instance, in the scenario above, you know you will need to look for eDiscovery software that can flex and scale from the smallest matter to the largest, as well as one that can create different templates for disparate use cases. In this way, you can ensure you purchase one self-service eDiscovery software that will meet the diverse needs of all your users.
Communicate with IT and data security teams to ensure that any platform conforms with their requirements.
These two groups often end up being pulled into discussions too late once purchasing decisions have already been made. This is unfortunate, as they are integral to the implementation process, as well as to ensuring that all software is secure and meets all applicable data security requirements. Data security in eDiscovery is non-negotiable, so you want to be sure that the eDiscovery technology software you select meets your firm or organization’s data security requirements before you get too far along in the purchasing process.
Create a prioritized list of the most important capabilities, functionality, and attributes to all the stakeholders once you’ve gathered feedback.
Having a defined list of must-haves and desired capabilities will make it easier to vet potential technology software and ultimately help you identify a technology platform that fits the needs of all relevant stakeholders.
With today’s advanced technology, attorneys and legal professionals should not have to deal with technology gaps in their self-service eDiscovery software, just as law firms and organizations should not have to blindly accept the higher eDiscovery cost and risk those gaps cause downstream. Powerful best-in-class technology for each step of the eDiscovery process is out there. Leveraging the steps above will help you find a self-service eDiscovery software solution that ties all the functionality you need under one seamless, easy-to-use interface.
For more detailed advice about navigating the purchasing process for self-service eDiscovery software, download our Self-Service eDiscovery Buyer’s Guide here.
About the Author
Sarah is an eDiscovery Evangelist and Proposal Content Strategist at Lighthouse. Before coming to Lighthouse, she worked for a decade as a practicing attorney at a global law firm, specializing in eDiscovery counseling and case management, data privacy, and information governance. At Lighthouse, she happily utilizes her eDiscovery expertise to help our clients understand and leverage the ever-changing world of legal technology and data governance. She is a problem solver and a collaborator and welcomes any chance to discuss customer pain points in eDiscovery. Sarah earned her B.A. in English from Penn State University and her J.D. from Delaware Law School.