E-Discovery Platforms for All: The Case for the Use of E-Discovery Software in All Matters
While litigators have come to accept that e-discovery platforms are necessary for large-scale matters, there is still a trend to avoid their use if possible. Litigation is expensive, and discovery can easily be one of the more costly phases. However, with technological advances, attorneys are no longer beholden to unapproachable, inflexible, and expensive vendors and platforms. While these types of platforms still exist, several efficient platforms are now available to streamline the process, making the technology more accessible to lawyers on all matters (regardless of size) with any budget.
When one thinks of e-discovery, lawyers often picture a complicated program, requiring teams of lawyers internally and program specialists externally to execute complex processes. The interface can seem unapproachable and not intuitive, and it can take hours, if not days, to execute an action (e.g., ingest documents, set up review batches, or run productions). But these programs, which are still predominant in the industry, are not the only options.
In the last few years, we have seen an influx of e-discovery vendors who offer platforms that are as easy to operate as Google. Their focus is on making technology that is not intimidating or cumbersome but easily accessible and puts control back in the hands of the lawyers running the case. Importantly, costs are drastically more affordable. One such platform, CS DISCO advertises itself as an “advanced yet easy-to-use ediscovery software” that streamlines legal workflow and allows lawyers to “law better.” This technology is available for flat-rate fees per month (based on the size of the documents loaded onto the system), starting at a couple of hundred dollars per month.
Plus, several others similarly put control back in the hands of the legal team for minimal costs and increased efficiency. Within minutes, lawyers can drag and drop documents received from the client straight into the software and start their review. The lawyers on the file control everything, and the systems perform these tasks effortlessly and almost instantaneously. Searches and productions can be run within minutes and not days – without incurring any additional fees.
To the extent a more “hands-on” approach is desired by attorneys, there are e-discovery vendors that are both fast and cost-effective without sacrificing top-notch service. “Every case is different which is why we have our project managers work directly with each client to ensure they get access to whatever data they need,” states Sue Pellegrino, president and CFO of Everest Discovery. “While having the best technology available to a firm is important, so is having an experienced team that you can trust every step of the process. Make sure to have an eDiscovery partner that treats you the same regardless of the size of your firm and/or project.” With e-discovery technology as affordable and accessible as it is, the use of e-discovery software should, at a minimum, be the standard in all cases regardless of size, and at a maximum, be mandatory in all litigation cases.
The case for using discovery in mid-size and smaller cases is the same as for larger cases; our ethical responsibilities and standards for competent lawyering should not change based on the size of the matter before us. E-discovery platforms offer a streamlined way to assemble, organize, sort, track, and produce discovery. While clients, especially as of late, encourage cutting costs whenever possible, this is simply not a cost that should be cut. Although organizing and keeping track of productions (both your own and that of all other parties) can technically be done in paper form or on Adobe or the like, it is imprudent to do so as mistakes are inevitable.
We use technology to organize all other aspects of our professional lives – deadlines on calendars, correspondence in Outlook, or time management on Time Matters – but somehow, we make excuses when it comes to discovery and allow the idea of perceived additional red tape and costs (regardless of whether it is actually more expensive) to dictate how we perform legal tasks. Furthermore, the use of efficient and cost-effective software can truly cut the cost of legal spend; instead of spending man-hours sifting through documents over and over, case documents are maintained in an organized fashion that permit lawyers to search for and categorize only what they need. In addition to its general benefits, the most recent developments in AI technology and predictive coding, allow for faster coding and review.
As we often do in a new year, each lawyer and firm should be considering ways to “lawyer better.” In so doing, every lawyer and each firm should vet different e-discovery platforms, find those that work best for their team, and adopt internal policies requiring the use of this software in all cases. Many programs offer free demos or trials of their software. Lawyers and firms should take advantage of these to determine what programs best suit their own needs and strengths.
These e-discovery platforms are often less expensive but are undoubtedly more efficient than the outdated methods of the past. While lawyers have historically shied away from any technology they do not understand or find intimidating, this can no longer be our reality as advances in technology in the world around us explode with opportunity. Don’t be one of the ones left behind when it comes to e-discovery.
Reprinted with permission from the January 16, 2024 issue of The Legal Intelligencer. © 2024 ALM Media Properties, LLC. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. All rights reserved.