In a recent roundtable with Zapproved customers, we dug into what it actually takes to reduce the cost of ediscovery while maintaining legal standards.
In this post, we’re excited to provide a recap of what Litigation Counsel at Change Healthcare, Molly Drake, and Associate General Counsel at Freddie Mac, Barry Parsons, had to say about how they’ve effectively reduced ediscovery costs.
Start With Metrics
Before determining how customers can keep ediscovery costs down, we first need to determine what metrics are being measured for cost and time spent. For Barry at Freddie Mac, one key area is data disposition. “We have a group that will periodically measure dollars saved for information they’ve been able to dispose of in a defensible manner without violating laws of legal hold requirements. We do this based on volume and making estimates of what it would cost to store the information instead.”
Does Keeping Work In-House Always Mean Cost Savings?
There’s no one perfect way to reduce ediscovery costs that will work for every company, in part because the needs of each case could be different. So as Barry points out, where you find your ediscovery cost savings can vary.
But regardless of how much is possible to bring in-house, there will always be the need for outside counsel. “Any company could hire an army of law firms and third-party vendors to do all the work,” Barry says, noting that this choice wouldn’t make sense from a cost perspective. “However, if there’s a spoliation dispute, you don’t want someone in-house to testify. So there’s definitely a time and place for outside counsel.”
Control Costs By Avoiding Over-Preservation and Over-Collection
The associated data storage costs of over-preservation and over-collection is another key area to look at when reducing ediscovery costs.
At Change Healthcare, Molly talks to custodians to get an idea of time frame and the scope of possible search terms. She said she’s learned this through trial and error with ediscovery teams being dissatisfied with information she’s presented.
In Barry’s experience at Freddie Mac, he’ll often discuss issues with opposing counsel to narrow the scope of the matter given that often, “opposing counsel will sometimes ask for ridiculous amounts of data or search terms,” that they wouldn’t even have the time or ability to process fully. Barry adds that having good records retention practices is also helpful, including training employees that they don’t need to keep everything for all time.
Two Keys for Ediscovery Cost Savings: Education & Predictability
- When employees understand the cost of unnecessary data retention, the work of reducing costs is easier. Barry at Freddie Mac recalls the early days of his professional history: “When you had documents you could see, it was natural for people to get rid of things because they were in the way. Today, people don’t see the cost associated with data stored on their computer.” But thousands of documents, emails, and calendar invitations add up. By educating employees on how to do their part, Barry can keep costs lower.
- Molly notes that using Zapproved products has already saved money for Change Healthcare. “It’s really critical that it’s a flat fee system rather than one that’s ad hoc. It has given us certainty around what our spend will be, and has saved all the fees you’d encounter when you transfer data to a third party, ingestion fees, etc.” When litigation is so unpredictable, it pays off to use a product that isn’t.