The Truth Behind Self-Service Pricing in eDiscovery

November 21, 2019



Brooks Thompson
Brooks Thompson

eDiscovery pricing has always been nuanced and inconsistent across vendors and technology providers, making it difficult for law firms and corporations alike to compare and contrast options. So, it is no big surprise that this same challenge exists across self-service eDiscovery tools and software as well, making it extremely challenging to model out an apples-to-apples comparison across solutions. This inability to accurately compare costs across different platforms leaves you and your team in the dark when it comes to choosing the right tool and pricing model to fit your needs.

The Challenge

Today’s self-service solutions are frequently priced based on data sizes/volumes at different phases of the eDiscovery processing, review, and production workflow, often with each of these steps having their own cost trigger associated with them. For example, many solutions charge based off of hosted volume, raw data size, or even post-extraction data volume, while others charge a flat-fee per matter.

Although attractive on their face, on a per matter plan you may be in good shape if you are able to entirely self-support, but any requests for help or training are frequently not included in the flat-fee. The lack of the ability to predict the future needs for support make the flat-fee a riskier choice. While paying for eDiscovery based off of per GB sizes is a very popular method, not knowing the expansion rates, the hosted volume, or not needing an entire data-set post culling and filtering means you may fall victim to data size anomalies or paying for data you don’t need.

Lastly it is important that you make sure to understand the full ecosystem of potential charges to avoid any surprises. Make sure to understand if there are other costs or “gotchas” you need to be aware of around user fees, OCR costs, Bates endorsement fees, user trainings, additional license fees to other platforms, costs to process specific file types, language translation, etc. Not to mention, you also have to consider the various technology platforms that are included and assess the need for ongoing expert support.

There is no perfect pricing model. The key to all of this is choosing the right model for you and your eDiscovery profile, but, how do you go about that?

The Solution

When you are evaluating pricing for self-service platforms and you have narrowed down to a few technology providers that offer technology that fits your needs, make sure to leverage the following tips to ensure you’re making an informed comparison:

  • Trust but verify. Ask the technology provider to explain the price point and both how and when it is measured. Discuss how the confluence of the eDiscovery workflow and cost actually come together. Will all workflows trigger all cost points? Do you have to pay for technology you don’t want or need? Understanding the answers to these questions will allow you to get a big picture understanding and to get a feel for where you may see your costs rise or decrease.
  • Set up a real case example. Ask the potential providers to use your actual data volumes to illustrate what the cost would like look for a given period of time (i.e. a month or even a few years). This will allow you to see what actuals would be across platforms as well as give you the opportunity to explore different pricing models with the vendor to meet your budgetary constraints.
  • Use a pricing calculator. Create a pricing calculator to compare self-service tools. Add as many variables as you would like to understand across all possible scenarios and across the different platforms you are evaluating. Leverage this to compare bottom-line numbers and determine the right fit for you. Additionally, lean on your vendor to help you build this out and make a comparison.

To discuss this topic more or to learn how we can help you make an apples-to-apples comparison, feel free to reach out to me at

About the Author

Brooks Thompson

Brooks is an eDiscovery professional with over a decade of experience in the industry holding roles in account and project management as well as a leader of client and product teams. He specializes in designing and implementing cost-efficient, automated eDiscovery workflows and products for enterprise clients. In his current role, Brooks directs Spectra support, marketing, development, pricing, and sales in the US and EU. Brooks has a B.A. from the University of Washington.