Cut those legal bills

Keep lawyers at bay with e-discovery

Keep lawyers at bay with e-discovery

Keep lawyers at bay with e-discovery

At some stage, a growing business will be involved in civil court proceedings. These may range from IP disputes and regulatory compliance issues to allegations of sexual or racial discrimination in the workplace.

Behind each of these cases lies a mountain of documents and emails that must be collected, processed, culled and reviewed by several different legal teams according to a strict deadline laid down by the court. That process, known as “discovery”, is becoming very expensive.

Software providers including Symantec, Recommind and Guidance Software have come up with a cheaper alternative generically known as “e-discovery”. This offers a broad assortment of advanced search, content management and security technologies. It’s attempting to help companies save on cost by bringing a range of legal processes in-house.

Another option may be to use an outsourcing provider, but the software vendors are – perhaps unsurprisingly – quick to point out that this can be extremely expensive. ‘It can cost upwards of £15,000 per gigabyte (GB) of data to go through the whole process,’ explains Craig Carpenter, VP of marketing and general counsel at e-discovery search firm Recommind. ‘So instead of giving 500 GB to an outside counsel to review, if you can collect, process and cull that to 50 GB in-house, and if you already know where the real smoking guns are, then it’s easy to see how [e-discovery] pays for itself very, very quickly. More and more companies are looking for options other than running to a Big Four professional services firm every time.’

Lawyers take cabs, not buses

Sharon White, Symantec’s EMEA product marketing manager, highlights the main problem: ‘It costs $300 to $400 per hour for the attorneys, and all they are doing is a simple administrative role.

‘[The process] often involves printing files to hard copy for individuals to search through manually using keyword criteria,’ she says. ‘These are then sent out to a third party or external legal body which then has to go through the documents again under further scrutiny to find the information they need. The whole process is time consuming, extremely costly and very, very prone to human error.’

In a bid to draw UK businesses away from outsourcing providers and encourage them to get their feet wet, Guidance has launched a hybrid software-as-a-service ‘pay-per-use’ version of its e-discovery platform.

‘It’s relatively new for us,’ says Patrick Burke, senior director and assistant general counsel at the company. ‘Our folks come in and train, implement and offer professional services on the first couple of cases. We don’t turn the meter on for a few months. Collecting information costs around $1 a piece for each source, be it an employee laptop, server or PC.

‘But if you want to process it for an attorney review platform you would pay a set amount per gigabyte. We just make sure it’s a fraction of what you’d pay if you outsourced it,’ Burke claims.

Nick Britton

Nick Britton

Nick was the Managing Editor for when it was owned by Vitesse Media, before moving on to become Head of Investment Group and Editor at What Investment and thence to Head of Intermediary...

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