Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Getting lawyers hooked on EDD processing, the paper v. plastic dilemma

While much has been made over the last 12 months about e-discovery, Zubalake and Morgan Stanley, the reality is that many lawyers and their clients are still a bit naive and shocked about the costs involved in properly handling e-discovery. This is especially true when you talk about the cost to processing e-discovery, with prices as high as $2,000 per GB. In many instances the costs to simply process the data can seem extremely high in comparison to the legal fees billed to handle the matter. For example how does a lawyer handle 10GB of e-discovery, which isn't a particularly large amount, when they'll likely bill less $50,000 to the client? Sending this to a vendor could cost as much as $10,000, which would be 20% of the fees billed.

What often happens in these cases is that the lawyer ends up forgoing the 'proper' method in an effort to save money and asks 'just to take a look at what's inside all these PST files'. Which means pulling them into Outlook, not the most effective platform for review. More firms, including ours, are looking to bring some of this in-house to offer more cost effective solutions for our clients, but at the same time, vendors are beginning to lower their rates to stay competitive.

We just started a 'paper v. plastic' roadshow to help illustrate the differences between handling electronic discovery the traditional way (printing everything out) and keeping it electronic. One of the most compelling demonstratives we used in the presentation was a visual of what a CD worth of printed material can potentially look like, since this is often what they lawyers are produced and their knee-jerk reaction is to just ask for it to be printed. What had a local vendor bring us 20 empty boxes and stacked them up in the conference room. While a bit over the top, it made the point to those in the audience that if they are asked to have everything printed from a CD, this room full of boxes could be the result. It was very effective at getting their attention and helping illustrate the need to keep things electronic.

We're hoping that by bringing this in-house (for small to mid-sized projects only) we'll be able to keep our lawyers from printing everything and ensure they are using the best tools for the job. While I'm optimistic about this project, we'll see how many of the old dinosaur lawyers we can get off of their paper and into the digital age :)

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