It’s easy to think of eDiscovery processing and review as a race to the bottom, especially as budgets and timelines get tighter. But be warned: Some of the solutions that look low-priced on the surface result in a total eDiscovery vendor cost that is much higher in the long run.
Look around. There is no shortage of eDiscovery vendors ready and willing to aid law firms and corporate counsel—from data mapping through production. Whatever you need can likely be had, and competition is fierce, so finding a low-priced version isn’t all that hard.
Savvy professionals would be wise, however, to look behind the curtain before making a final decision. Not all eDiscovery vendor costs—or benefits, for that matter—are obvious. And it’s just as easy to end up with a “cheap” solution that costs much more than you had originally intended.
Complex Fee Structures & Hosting Costs
When you’re focused on the matter at hand rather than the details of your engagement with an eDiscovery vendor, it’s not unusual for a really low $20-per-gigabyte process rate to turn into a total project cost of hundreds of thousands. How does this happen? Complex hosting is the main contributor.
The longer a case is hosted with a service provider, the more money you’ll pay. This is fine if the case is only in there for a few months, but it’s incredibly easy to forget you have data in your hosted database.
From the start of the engagement with the vendor the meter is running, and the bills keep coming for hosting data that may or may not be necessary. The cost can be significant, especially if you’re dealing with a sizable case.
For example, maybe a bulk of data was important at the onset of a matter prior to culling strategies being established, but you’re now in the middle of review or in post-discovery. On the first of the month, every month, your eDiscovery vendor submits their invoice that includes hosting charges. You could potentially be on the hook for a six-figure hosting bill over the life of a case.
If you’re currently overpaying for hosting and just need to stem the flow, there are options service providers can offer to help minimize the total eDiscovery vendor cost including warm or near-line storage. Start the conversation and see what your vendor does and doesn’t do.
4 Questions to Ask Before You Sign with an eDiscovery Vendor
Service providers can be a tremendous asset to your matter, lending versatility, capacity, experience and strategy around polished processes, as well as responsibility and competence that can be relied upon. The burden will be on you to demand transparency and perform due diligence when it comes to all applicable fee structures and their full implications over the lifetime of a matter—and beyond.
If you’re entering into a new engagement and want to keep your eDiscovery vendor cost down, make sure you’re asking yourself questions such as:
- How long will my data need to be hosted?
- What is the plan for archiving non-essential data?
- How many reviewers are necessary?
- What kind of project management will we require?
Make sure you insist just the pertinent records remain in the database and have the rest archived so you’re not paying for data that isn’t relevant. Your eDiscovery vendor should be able to quickly and easily bring the data back if need be.
Offset Your eDiscovery Vendor Cost by Finding a Partner
Inexpensive service providers might look good at first glance—maybe they have a very low hourly rate or unit rate for data ingestion—but project management and hosting fees can drive up the total eDiscovery vendor cost significantly. A broader perspective should be used to forecast what the total spend may be.
Estimate how long data will be hosted, establish a plan—in advance—for removing unnecessary data through archiving, and discuss with your service provider what should happen to that data when a matter has concluded.
Like anything, the value of an eDiscovery vendor is all in how you use it.
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