ediscovery Software Buyer s Guide FOR SMALL LAW FIRMS

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1 ediscovery Software Buyer s Guide FOR SMALL LAW FIRMS NE X TPOINT.C O X TPOINT

2 Aided by the sensible use of technology, small firms should no longer be averse to taking on big cases or processing large volumes of data. A few short years ago, ediscovery was thought of as a luxury accessible only to big law firms with the resources to invest in considerable infrastructure. While the need clearly existed for firms of all sizes, legal industry observers like Craig Ball ( E-Discovery for Everybody, 2009) and Tom O Connor ( Electronic Discovery for Small Cases, 2012) wondered how small firms could possibly afford to perform ediscovery on small to medium-size cases. As is often the case with evolving technologies, the ediscovery market has gradually been democratized. Today, small firms can not only effectively conduct complex ediscovery, but these firms actually possess advantages when competing with their larger counterparts. With no legacy software and processes in place, small and solo lawyers can often adapt more quickly to today s technical challenges in ediscovery. That includes embracing second and third generation software that was built to specifically address those challenges. Written by the Client Success team at Nextpoint

3 This guide outlines some key considerations for anyone starting their ediscovery software purchase journey. It also includes an editable, two-page software comparison chart with vital questions to ask any potential software provider. Think about what you need. When considering your ediscovery technology needs, be sure to take a holistic view of the litigation process. Alas, it does not begin and end with discovery. There will likely be data collection and file processing needs to be aware of on the front end, as well as post-production data management concerns (depositions, transcripts, expert testimony, etc) on the back end. Scrutinize how any ediscovery or document review software intersects with those two operations on the litigation timeline. Managing the data flow across these milestones can require multiple vendors, and most often add time, complexity and cost to the overall project. Each ediscovery platform comes with its own set of strengths and limitations. Each may allow you to perform more or less heavy lifting of data across that litigation continuum. quick tip : Scrutinize how any ediscovery or document review software intersects with collection and post-production processes.

4 Some are one-trick ponies designed to address isolated segments of the ediscovery process, while others offer a more end-to-end solution. It s important to know exactly which tasks you need your software to accomplish, and how it will gel with your desired workflows. Think about how you work. The last thing you want is a new piece of software that runs counter to your own internal environment. A vendor may show you one nice workflow during a demo, but in practice, software that isn t flexible enough to adapt to the unique needs and preferences of each user at your firm is likely to result in frustration and subpar efficiency. Whether you re a solo attorney tasked with a small document review, or the leader of a large review team in multi-office settings, you must be confident the software will meet the practical and strategic needs of your unique situation. Some key considerations might be: User licenses and user permissions Remote accessibility to the software Off-hours support or helpdesk quick tip : You must be confident any new software will meet your practical and strategic needs.

5 Team collaboration tools or mechanisms Mac vs. PC compatibility, or tablet compatibility Internal IT support necessary Setup or installation time needed Compatibility with existing software platforms Flexible or custom software workflows Think about how much you want to DIY. Today, there are more opportunities to save money by performing many discovery tasks in-house, instead of paying a traditional vendor for those services. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, in particular, automate tasks surrounding electronic data (upload, data reduction, production, etc.) and put great power in the hands of those willing to wield it. Those experienced hands in discovery data-wrangling will profit from handling tasks themselves. Moreover, some providers do offer abundant software training, getting new users fully DIY-qualified. Still, you must be honest with yourself. If you re not interested in building a load file for a massive data import, or don t have confidence in your ability to execute quick tip : Some providers do offer abundant software training, to get new users fully DIY-qualified.

6 your first complex production without inadvertently waiving privilege, then you should find a provider that offers hands-on service in addition to its software. The software you choose should match your particular use case. Ideally, it should allow you to perform the tasks you want to do yourself (which saves you time and money), and have expert service professionals available to tackle any complex operations you would rather not risk getting wrong. Think about cost (and who is paying). Cost is another area where your considerations should be holistic in nature. Case size and risk exposure obviously come into play when looking at ediscovery costs. But to assess the true total cost of ediscovery, firms must look at the entire litigation continuum and identify additional costs that may be incurred upstream or downstream from each ediscovery platform under consideration. Paying à la carte for collection, file processing, data reduction, document review, production, deposition management and trial preparation from multiple vendors will most likely result in much higher ediscovery costs. quick tip : Purchasing ediscovery services à la carte from multiple vendors will most likely add cost.

7 As a general rule of thumb, fewer pieces of software = a lower overall cost. And, if movement of data can be minimized, you can count a lower risk of data loss or spoliation as a bonus. Further, software that requires local installation comes with plenty of downstream costs: server hardware, IT support, maintenance and upgrades, security provisions for local data, user licenses, etc. Consider that there may be a hefty annual license fee regardless of how much you use the software. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications typically offer more flexible pricing models and pay-as-you-go, predictable pricing. They also eliminate the need to buy, install, and maintain expensive software on internal servers; a big selling point for small firms. However, there may be data hosting fees, user license fees, or additional fees for training and support. If you re considering passing your firm s technology costs through to the end client, it helps to have a simple, transparent pricing structure from your ediscovery provider that you can invoice and explain to others. With software, itemized costs per case or per gigabyte of data are easier to bill directly to an end-client than annual software or user seat licenses. quick tip : Look for a simple, transparent pricing structure that you can easily explain and pass through.

8 Key ediscovery Terms You Should Know The list is by no means exhaustive, but it will arm you with a baseline vocabulary when planning for your 26(b) Conference or discussing ediscovery software with potential providers. Coding: The process of entering fields of information from a document and saving these in a format that will be associated with the particular document typically within a database. Common coded fields include document type, date, time, author, recipients, subject or title, and attachment(s). Custodian: The individual recognized to have created or controlled an electronic file. De-Duplication: Techniques for removing duplicate files from a document collection. DeNISTing: NIST is an acronym for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. NIST has a sub-project called the National Software Reference Library, which collects a master list of known, traceable computer applications. De-NISTing

9 means using this list to identify computer files known to be unimportant system files and remove them from your document collection. ESI: ESI is shorthand for electronically stored information. ESI generally includes any digital evidence type: s, documents, presentations, social media and web site records, voic s, audio/video files, and so on. Early Case Assessment (ECA): Early case assessment is the process of determining risks and benefits of taking a case to trial. The result of an ECA process should be a monetary calculation of the what the litigation is worth to the parties involved. Early Data Assessment (EDA): EDA involves preliminary evaluations of data early in the life of a matter. It can include examining the technology and data sources possibly involved in the specific legal matter, not to mention the metadata about that ESI. EDA is an essential first step in performing an ECA. Extraction: Extraction refers to the process of copying or separating out files or other data from an original source. For example, obtaining a forensically sound copy of s from an server involves a process of extraction.

10 Forensic Image: An electronic or digital format for capturing and storing data without corruption or alteration. Keyword Search: The most common method for searching document collections, including keywords and Boolean strings. Load file: The file used to import data (coded, captured or extracted data from processing) into a database; or the file used to link specific files. Metadata: Data about data; hidden from direct view, including information such as author, recipient, creation date, modified date and other potentially important data. Native File: A file in its original file format that has not been converted into a digital image or file format such as TIFF, JPEG, or PDF. OCR: Optical character recognition software scans paper or electronic image files and converts them into searchable text for review.

11 Processing: The stage in which data is narrowed down, converted, and prepared for analysis and relevance review. Data must be imported into a software platform for analysis and production, which is where volumes can expand greatly. Production: Data can be delivered to opposing parties in a number of formats, including images like TIFF, file formats like PDF, or native formats. Images are often easy to manage and Bates stamp, but do not retain metadata. Determine which format works best for your needs. Personal Storage Table (PST): A common file format used to store messages, calendar events and other items within Microsoft software. Predictive Coding or Machine Learning: The process of coding small samples of data with human reviewers, then training a machine to apply a similar logic to code the rest. Makes it possible for computers to assist in the recognition of responsive documents in review. Tagging: The process of assigning classifications (such as relevance, privilege or by issues) to one or more documents.

12 ediscovery Software Comparison Worksheet for the Small Firm / PAGE 1 of 2 PROVIDER 1 PROVIDER 3 QUESTIONS TO ASK SOFTWARE PROVIDERS Can we manage the entire litigation life cycle with this software? What type of training resources are available, and is there a cost for these resources? Are ediscovery services available if my team needs additional assistance or consultation? At what price? Is there remote access to the software if I m away from the office? How often will we need to update the software? What is the cost to update? Does the provider own the software in question, and have power to make changes or enhancements to it? Are there recurring fees or hosting charges for maintaining electronic litigation data? Can we perform early data assessment and minimize data volume before document review? Are there fees associated with denist or deduplication of uploaded data? Are there fees associated with image (Bates) stamping? ediscovery software comparison worksheet for the small firm

13 ediscovery Software Comparison Worksheet for the Small Firm / PAGE 2 of 2 PROVIDER 1 PROVIDER 3 QUESTIONS TO ASK SOFTWARE PROVIDERS Are there service fees for exporting or producing data? Are there service fees for privilege log creation? Are there service fees to ingest my data? Are there service fees for native file processing? Are there service fees for making scanned documents searchable via Optical Character Recognition (OCR)? Can we control user permissions and create custom tags and coding fields ourselves? How can the provider guarantee the security of litigation data? Other notes or differentiating factors: ediscovery software comparison worksheet for the small firm

14 Nextpoint is evidence management made complete...and completely simple. Order. Beyond the Court. Nextpoint is simple and cost-effective software-as-a-service that takes you from collection to trial, across all your matters with just one login. As you face increasing pressure to control litigation costs, Nextpoint empowers your small firm to automate ediscovery functions, manage more data in-house, and control the entire litigation process from end to end. Easily collect, analyze, review, and produce data, and conclude any matter with collaborative case development and presentation with Nextpoint. Try it for free >

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