eDiscovery Daily Blog

Working Successfully with eDiscovery and Litigation Support Service Providers: Preventing Unexpected Costs


Unfortunately, it’s just not possible to know up-front precisely what a litigation support or eDiscovery project will cost.  There are too many unknowns, and, therefore, too many opportunities for surprises regarding costs.  You can, however, avoid some of those surprises with good upfront communication with the vendor.

Here are some steps you can take to prevent surprises and control costs:

  • Make sure that you have a clear understanding of every unit price the vendor provides to you in an estimate.  Some tasks may be charged per-page, others per-document, others per gigabyte, and others on an hourly basis.  Make sure that you understand how the work is being charged and that you agree that the price model makes sense.
  • Require that the service provider prepare an estimate of total project costs in addition to providing unit pricing.  That estimate should be based on a reasonable estimate of the size of the collection and on assumptions about the project that you provide to the vendor.  Ask the vendor to include all incidental cost components in the estimate.  For example, it the vendor charges for project management, supplies and shipping, require that the estimate include these costs based on their experience with similar projects.
  • Before signing a contract, come to agreement on how any changes in the assumptions will affect the price.
  • Review a sample invoice and make sure that you understand its components.  You may need to verify the vendor’s invoices, so make sure that they provide an invoice you understand.  Changing the format of an invoice may not be easy for a vendor, so it’s probably not reasonable to ask them to do so.  You could, however, ask for a cover letter with each invoice explaining charges that may not be clear or evident .  It’s always better to ask for these types of “extras” before signing a contract with a vendor.
  • Find out what the vendor’s policy is on price changes or notification of such.

These are easy steps that don’t take much time.  This extra effort up-front, however, can avoid surprises and disagreements down the road.

What steps do you take to prevent cost problems with vendor work?  Please share any comments you might have and let us know if you’d like to know more about an eDiscovery topic.