In cases where digitally stored information offers definitive evidence, such as corporate fraud or intellectual property theft, the role of e-discovery is crucial. E-discovery is essentially the digital version of paper discovery, and involves the retrieval and review of electronically stored information (ESI). It is a complex and, at times, mundane task, requiring careful planning, data acquisition, review and analysis, secure storage to prevent spoliation, reliable data hosting and the production of documents that can be used in court. Typically, the retrieved data arrives in multiple file formats and types of digital media, and there is often a massive amount of information to sort through (at Capsicum’s Philadelphia office and elsewhere, we frequently handle data sets during e-discovery that range in size from one gigabyte to thirty terabytes) in a limited amount of time.
The complexity of retrieved data, coupled with the considerable expense of e-discovery, makes it essential that a legal team understands how to best manage its project from collection to production all while keeping the costs of digital forensics and e-discovery under control. E-discovery can comprise some of the most burdensome costs of bringing a case to trial—ranging anywhere from $1,000 to $30,000 per gigabyte—especially during its early stages. There are many vendors that offer software and services designed to facilitate the discovery process, and it is essential to complete thorough research before choosing one in order to minimize costs and ensure efficiency.
The expense of the “search and cull” process, in which information relevant to the case is pulled from the larger data set using keyword(s), date range, or other criteria, can vary depending on the vendor you choose and the methods they utilize. As a rule, an efficient e-discovery firm will search and cull data before processing it. For example, if the Capsicum team is reviewing 500 gigabytes of data and using ten search terms, we will often search and cull the data before processing and uploading it into our hosting platform, Relativity. This will bring the amount of data to be processed and reviewed to a small percentage of the original data set. Once the data has been culled there are fixed or per-gigabyte fees to process the remaining data, which is generally the most expensive aspect of the e-discovery process. It should be noted that other e-discovery organizations frequently charge a per-gigabyte processing rate from the outset for the entirety of the data set. This often causes costs to rise exponentially, unnecessarily—and can waste too much time.
Another component of the early stages of e-discovery, early case assessment (ECA), can be both a blessing and a curse. ECA is best performed in cases with large data sets to create a simple yet coherent image of the case in question, and to determine the risks and benefits of going to trial. Often, it calls upon large ESI data sets that then must be sorted through. The use of software to sample and process the information can be costly as well as time-consuming, especially if done haphazardly, as in the case of a client that we recently met with. The client from a large New York firm had run into frustrating problems with their ECA software: the expensive program was intended to handle a sizeable matter and dataset, but upon implementation, it was insufficient for handling such a massive amount of information, resulting in an exhausting refund process and hours of valuable time wasted. This instance, while unfortunate, highlights the need for legal teams to research vendors of e-discovery software thoroughly before choosing one, and analyze the potential value of ECA services.
Let’s not forget about predictive coding, visualization and other advanced technologies, which – when used at the right time, in the right way – can greatly improve productivity as well as minimize wasted time and expense. Be sure to make the most out of your e-discovery project by working with a skilled team, putting in place a plan that addresses your specific case and working with a qualified and certified partner.
Our team at Capsicum Group can assist you with making the crucial e-discovery decisions. Our electronic discovery professionals, computer forensics experts, and licensed cybersecurity professionals at Capsicum Group, with offices in Philadelphia, New York City and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, have both the knowledge and authority to assist you with all steps of the e-discovery process, from planning to retrieving complex and sensitive data along with testifying in court. Our team includes administrators certified in Relativity, a powerful web-based e-discovery hosting platform by kCura. Having been a kCura Relativity Hosting Partner for six years, Capsicum Group is well-versed in the advantages of the program’s capabilities, which include compilation, searching, tagging, analytics and assisted review for even the heftiest of legal matters.
Call Capsicum Group at 888-220-3101 today to learn how our e-discovery processes will keep your costs down and give you leverage in court.