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Budgeting, spending and saving are top of mind for many people and businesses this year. In these uncertain times we are all looking for ways to economize. 

Discovery is often a costly step in litigation. Clients often ask how they can save money on their eDiscovery costs. In a plaintiff side class action practice, keeping our disbursements in check while managing large data volumes means finding creative ways to gain efficiencies in eDiscovery. Implementing of a combination of cost saving measures can have a profound impact on an eDiscovery budget.

Over the next few weeks, I will share some of our practical tips in a series of short articles. Here is Part 1 – Lay the Groundwork.

Taking the time to set the stage before documents are exchanged will help lower your eDiscovery expenses and will keep your project running smoothly and efficiently. 

1. Information Governance

Businesses should have information governance policies in place to control the volume of data being stored and to assist in locating data when its needed. The Sedona Conference has published a good overview here.

2. Litigation Readiness

Have a litigation readiness plan in place before litigation happens. Having procedures in place will save time and stress when you need to implement a legal hold. There are software tools on the market that can help with the process but if that is not in your budget, a project manager can design a process that works for your company. For more information on legal holds see here.

3. Negotiate a Production Protocol

A production protocol (aka ESI protocol) sets out the manner the data will be produced to the opposing party. Having a plan for all of the technical aspects of production including format and metadata fields can streamline the production and review for all parties. In addition to achieving consistency, it provides the parties with an opportunity to obtain the data in a format that will work best with their respective review software enabling them to leverage analytics and other cost savings measures. The respective parties’ eDiscovery professionals can usually agree on terms that are acceptable to all. Without a production protocol in place, it becomes more of a challenge and expense to go back and ask for changes in the production after it is received.  

4. Exchange Files in Native Format Whenever Possible

Request Native file productions rather than TIFF or PDF whenever possible. There is a significant cost involved in converting native files to TIFF and running OCR to extract text. On the storage side, TIFFs take up more storage volume than natives. With most data hosting being charged per gigabyte, keeping this volume low can lead to big savings especially for large cases that are stored for many months. 

5. Choose an Efficient eDiscovery Software Solution

There are many options for software and delivery models. Human review is usually the most expensive part of eDiscovery. For that reason, the most important consideration is choosing software that provides you with access to all of the analytics tools that can help reduce the size of your review set.   There are many different delivery models to access the software that you want at various price points. These range from having your own on premises system to on-demand cloud based access through a service provider or law firm. Choose a system that will operate smoothly. A cloud based solution can alleviate a lot of headaches regarding storage, maintenance and IT resources. You will also need an administrator with expertise with the software. A great administrator will know how to leverage all of the software’s functionality to help streamline your review reduce your costs. This can be someone from within your organization or more commonly your software provider. We have tried many different models over the years and I am happy to chat about our experiences.

Setting the stage is just the start. My next post will cover how you can save on review costs by use analytics and workflows to send fewer documents to review. Please feel free to reach out to me, Dawn Sullivan Willoughby, at [email protected] if you have questions or comments.

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