eDiscovery Daily Blog

eDiscovery Trends: Small Cases Need Love Too!


There was an interesting article in Law Technology News from Tom O’Connor, a previous thought leader interviewee on this blog, regarding the dilemma associated with affordability of eDiscovery technology for small cases (entitled Pricing: The Small Case E-Discovery Dilemma).  Even though small cases make up the overwhelming majority of cases filed and there is ESI to manage in those cases just like there is in the big cases, eDiscovery technology has historically been cost prohibitive for the cases when compared to the amount at dispute.

To make technology work for the smaller cases, Tom makes some assumptions, including:

  • Typical ESI File Formats: The types of files you’re working with in the smaller cases are typical file formats for email and office functions.  If you get into the less common file formats, you’re more likely to need more expensive technology to handle those.
  • Host the Data Yourself: Tom assumes “that you want to host the data yourself, and that you have the equipment and skills to do so” and that small cases “demand applications that can be installed on one computer for processing and review”.  It’s an interesting assumption, the question is do many of the firms managing these small cases have both the equipment and the skills to do so? (I’m not sure that they do).
  • Smaller Volumes of ESI: Of course, it makes perfect sense that the small case would be dealing with less ESI.  As Tom notes, “[w]e're also assuming you are not dealing with terabytes of information.”  Of course not.  However, with each GB representing 50,000 pages of data (or more), it doesn’t take much volume to require technology to effectively manage the data.
  • Cooperative Relationship: Tom also states the assumption that “you have a cooperative relationship with the other side, at least in terms of dealing with EDD”.  When that’s the case, it’s a lot easier to keep eDiscovery at a proportional level.

The article goes on to look at a case starting with 800 GB that ultimately yields 200 GB of reviewable material and the potentially exorbitant costs (as much as $1 million) associated with managing a 200 GB case.  Yet, as Tom notes, “[b]ig EDD companies don't want this business — we've been told that directly by sales managers at two separate top-tier companies.”

Last year at LegalTech, several of the thought leaders that I interviewed indicated that they were seeing more technology alternatives suitable for the smaller cases and Tom mentions some of those toward the end of the article.  One of our 2012 predictions was a greater adoption of eDiscovery technology for smaller cases (as even those cases are no longer that small), attorneys are forced to embrace eDiscovery technology for these cases and, eDiscovery providers are taking note.

In addition to the trends and technology alternatives that Tom writes about, I wrote an article that was published in LJN’s Legal Tech Newsletter in September entitled e-Discovery Technology for the $100,000 (Or Less) Case that discusses some of the trends that are starting to make technology more affordable for the smaller case.  These include SaaS applications in the cloud, pricing models that promote simplified and pay-as-you-go technology pricing, advanced data culling techniques and self-service functionality that enables the firm to “do it yourself” instead of paying the vendor for those services.  This article also identifies some technology alternatives that promote those concepts to make eDiscovery technology affordable even when the amount in dispute is no more than $100,000.

If you’re a subscriber to Legal Tech Newsletter, you can get that entire issue here.  If you’re not a subscriber, but would be interested in a reprint of that article, send me an email to daustin@ediscoverydaily.com and I’ll send you a copy.

So, what do you think?  Are you able to effectively use eDiscovery technology for smaller cases?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine Discovery. eDiscoveryDaily is made available by CloudNine Discovery solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscoveryDaily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.