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Monday, January 05, 2009
There's nothing like a new cost metric for eDiscovery to get me on my soapbox about reducing the risk, liability and unnecessary cost associated with producing electronically stored information (ESI). A recent article in Information Week shed new light on the exorbitant costs involved with eDiscovery, citing an internal Verizon benchmark that revealed it cost the company between $5,000 and $7,000 per gigabyte to process and produce ESI!
Now, factor in the hundreds of gigabytes of data that need to be collected and culled for typical litigation and it's easy to see how companies spend millions on eDiscovery alone. The reason it's so expensive to locate, search, retrieve and secure ESI is because people have stashed multiple copies of data in so many places. As a result, they have to collect and cull a warehouse-sized stockpile to respond to most discovery requests.
For many, the process is so painful they outsource discovery to service providers that search the information warehouse with a "find the needle in a haystack" or "forensic" approach. This is probably the most inefficient, time-consuming, expensive and risky way to handle eDiscovery. Sticking your head in the haystack with the attitude that "if it's hard to find, then I don't have to produce it" is equally flawed.
Sure, discovery can be a costly, complex issue. Risk management and efficiency are critical to discovery but cost seems to have the spotlight. That's one of the major reasons a task force from the American College of Trial Lawyers and the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System are proposing amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). In surveying roughly 1,500 Fellows of the College engaged in civil trial practice, the task force concluded that out-of-control costs and delays are impairing the effectiveness of the U.S. civil courts.
While any potential modifications to FRCP are years away, companies can take action today to dramatically decrease the time and expense of eDiscovery. Tools are available to help gain better control of your ESI proactively in-house while enabling you to gather and preserve information so it can be easily and effectively accessed. With simple, intuitive web-based interfaces, you can even conduct self-service searches and legal discoveries across all data types and copies in multiple geographies from a single platform.
We see companies increasingly switching to this model of "in-house discovery" where you collect and cull content-based files, emails and attachments before an expensive outsourcing engagement. In doing so, you can realistically cut your eDiscovery costs in half. Everyone's happy. The business has better access to its information, legal teams can more efficiently review ESI evidence, IT costs are minimized, and above all, risk is reduced and liability is managed. It all comes down to making more informed and proactive decisions while empowering your company to devise the best possible legal strategy without breaking your or your company's back.
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