eDiscovery Daily Blog

eDiscovery Budgeting, Part 2: Key Assumptions and Choices That Affect eDiscovery Budgeting


Friday, we talked about assumptions and elements that contribute to cost that need to be considered when budgeting for eDiscovery activities.

Now that you know a bit about the factors surrounding the cost of eDiscovery, let's take a look at budgeting and the estimates that attorneys provide to a client before beginning eDiscovery work. The first step in budgeting is to prepare an estimate based on your and your client’s best guesses and assumptions. What are some of these assumptions?

  • Volume: Volume is almost always the largest driver of cost, as it will affect not only the quantity of data to be collected and processed, but also the amount of time human beings must spend reviewing discovery documents for relevance and privilege. Volume is also one of the more ambiguous factors. The most accurate estimate of volume is in megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB) or terabytes (TB), but you won't always have access to these kinds of size descriptions. Instead, a client may tell you that there are "50,000 or so pages" of data, or "about 10,000 emails". The size of pages can vary widely depending on whether they are in an email, a PDF, or a word document, so it can be very difficult to estimate volume with any degree of accuracy.
  • Scope: It's wise to start with the smallest possible scope and expand if necessary, but that can be an inefficient way to review documents for eDiscovery, as it may mean going over the same files twice for different aspects of your eventual scope.
  • Efficiency: Whenever possible, it's important to plan an eDiscovery strategy in advance that will allow for a more efficient review of documents and data. The ability to maintain an efficient process of eDiscovery is largely dependent on timing and the ability to plan.
  • Timing: More time for eDiscovery activities means that the scope and search details can be refined, optimizing efficiency and minimizing costs. If the eDiscovery must be done in a hurry, efficiency suffers and costs rise.
  • Risk: Risk tolerance is a factor in cost, determining how much attention must be paid to refining every aspect of document review and data access. Mitigating risk up front through agreement and cooperation with opposing counsel can clearly define the risk so that you know where you stand.
  • Location: Where the data is located can affect costs and so can the jurisdiction of the case.  For example, different courts have provided different rulings on spoliation claims, so it’s important to consider location as part of the budgeting process.

So, what do you think? Have you found any of these assumptions to be especially problematic in your own eDiscovery budgeting estimates? Please share any comments you might have or if you'd like to know more about a particular topic.