Written by Council Member Michael Curran of Flex Discovery
This blog is a little late following the ABA Techshow, but it covers a somewhat timeless subject regarding whether it is best to handle small eDiscovery matters on your own or whether to seek professional help. At the ABA Techshow this spring, a presentation on the subject of small case eDiscovery was given by Sharon Nelson, President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., and Bruce Olson, President of ONLAW Trial Technologies, LLC.
During the presentation, both Ms. Nelson and Mr. Olson offered insights on how lawyers can do eDiscovery themselves. I have spent the last several years working with vendors assisting lawyers with their eDiscovery matters, and I agree with many of the points raised by the speakers. Although self-service eDiscovery is not for everyone, there are plenty of attorneys and law firms capable of handling their own small eDiscovery cases.
One self-help eDiscovery topic the speakers discussed was data collection. The speakers stated that self-collection is an affordable option and recommended products such as safecopy2 and Harvester. Reasonable actions in an eDiscovery case rely in part on the concept of proportionality, which means that you don’t have to spend a ton of money on eDiscovery for cases with little underlying value. Hiring an outside forensics expert to perform a collection can be expensive, so saving several hundred dollars per computer may make sense in small cases. Some self-collection programs may require a level of technical skill not taught in law school, so you should give these tools a test run before proceeding in your case.
The speakers also addressed small case data searching, and they mentioned that DT Search Desktop (approximately $200) can be used to view, index and search documents for a preliminary review of document sets. DT Search is one of the main tools utilized by eDiscovery software manufacturers for searching. I have used DT Search several times because it is so popular in eDiscovery tools. If you are an expert at searching on Westlaw and Lexis, you can certainly learn how to find documents using DT Search with a little practice. Quick View Plus was also suggested as a method for viewing multiple types of documents for which you may not have the appropriate native program in your law office.
As with any do-it-yourself project, you can save money if you do things right yourself. However, you mitigate risks by hiring outside experts. Overall, if you are the type of attorney who gets excited about performing your own small case eDiscovery by using tools such as DT Search Desktop, safecopy2, Harvester, Quick View Plus, and dozens of other software products they never taught us about in law school, then you should be able to handle many small eDiscovery tasks with a little training and practice.