In many cases (legal and otherwise), the DIY approach is often the most cost-effective way of accomplishing a task. There’s a reason why YouTube tutorials are so popular! However, there comes a point when the DIY ethos becomes a hindrance, rather than a help. For corporate legal teams, a manual ediscovery process is that point. With the potential for multiple terabytes of data to preserve, review, and cull through on any given case, a manual process is not only inefficient, it’s borderline impossible. Corporate legal teams are being asked to take on additional responsibilities even as budgets are trimmed. It’s more vital than ever that you find ways to control and predict the costs, and not just the obvious ones. There are also hidden costs that can add up fast. Let’s review some of the hidden costs of manual ediscovery.
Even with a fully staffed department, the sheer volume of data makes manual legal hold management and data review a major time-sink. Most investigations are time sensitive, with firm completion dates. The ability to review and cull data quickly and efficiently is critical. Organizations that are managing multiple litigation and regulatory matters often struggle to document their legal hold and preservation efforts, especially if they are relying on manual processes and systems.
Some teams use spreadsheets to manage custodians and responses, but these spreadsheets soon become unwieldy, increasing the risk of human error. Others use email read receipts to track whether custodians open their legal hold notices. In addition to being cumbersome, this method does not require the custodians to acknowledge their receipt; the passive act of opening the email is not a failsafe method. Manually compiling this information and following up with custodians also takes significant time and resources.
Imagine manually counting a set of emails that match a particular search term. There could be dozens or even hundreds of these. Now imagine a colleague interrupting you with a question or pulling you into a two-hour meeting when you’re ¾ of the way through the data set. When you return to your desk to resume your count, how many emails had you processed before the distraction? 33? 130? 310? To be certain, it’s best to start at the beginning again. Now you’ve lost an entire day of work. A manual process also involves individually sending legal holds to each custodian, and then tracking down anyone who doesn’t respond promptly. This isn’t an efficient use of anybody’s time.
Why incur these costs–hidden or not–if you don’t have to? Modern, cloud-based ediscovery software not only enables corporate legal departments to bring routine document review in-house, it requires minimal training and staff resources while offering huge cost savings and security benefits. In addition, ediscovery software lowers the risk of human error, reduces the time commitment required for document review, and provides a consistent process that is both defensible and repeatable.