The Case for In-House eDiscovery
When an organization takes the eDiscovery process in-house, it can eliminate many of the challenges the traditional eDiscovery process poses. However, some organizations hesitate to bring eDiscovery in-house because they worry that fully managing the eDiscovery process will be too expensive or demand too much of their legal team’s time, including the initial switching costs.
But modern eDiscovery tools have made “in-housing” feasible for even the smallest and leanest organizations. User-friendly, cost-effective eDiscovery tools reduce the barriers to in-housing. Many newer eDiscovery platforms are simple and efficient, allowing legal teams without extensive technical knowledge or legions of attorneys and IT personnel on staff to effectively manage eDiscovery in-house.
Organizations that make the switch to an in-house eDiscovery process frequently see measurable cost-savings, even when their legal teams hire additional personnel to manage eDiscovery. The cost of adding headcount is frequently offset by the savings from not spending money on outside vendors.
In-housing eDiscovery also benefits organizations and their legal teams beyond saving them money, including by giving them increased control over the process, enhancing security, and allowing them to scale eDiscovery capabilities as their business or operational needs require.
Moving eDiscovery In-House Generates Cost Efficiencies
Arguably, the primary motivator for organizations bringing eDiscovery in-house is the cost savings they can enjoy, even when factoring in the upfront costs of purchasing access to eDiscovery tools or hiring employees to run eDiscovery.
Outsourcing document collection, processing, hosting, and review to outside vendors can quickly become expensive. Just a few short years ago, outsourcing eDiscovery to vendors was necessary because they had the specialized expertise needed to manage an organization’s data.
Today’s eDiscovery tools largely automate collection and processing, allowing organizations and their legal teams without specialized IT personnel to perform these tasks. eDiscovery platforms on the market today can generate additional cost savings through advanced search, culling, and merging features, which limits data sets to the electronically stored information (ESI) that may be relevant for review. As a result, organizations and their legal teams will spend less money on data storage and review time.
In-House eDiscovery Enables Legal Teams to Defend Their Production
Defensibility of an organization’s eDiscovery process is critical to avoiding costly discovery disputes. It’s common in litigation for one side to claim that the other’s eDiscovery production was inadequate. Organizations can avoid costly additional court-ordered document reviews or sanctions by having a documented defensible eDiscovery process.
Bringing eDiscovery in-house allows legal teams to document each step in the eDiscovery process, from data collection through review. Teams that continue to rely on outside vendors can be left holding the bag if their vendors are sloppy with their processes and documentation since they’ll have no way to defend their production in court. Modern eDiscovery platforms frequently include audit trail features that organizations’ legal teams can use to show the scope of collection, review, and production to opposing parties and judges so that they can defend a production when necessary.
In-House eDiscovery Provides More Control over the Process
Legal teams can conduct a defensible eDiscovery process in-house because modern eDiscovery tools give them control over the entire process. Having complete control over eDiscovery procedures also offers other benefits to organizations, including being able to adapt quickly during a legal matter or litigation, like when they find newly identified data sources, when they change their legal strategy, or when they find themselves in a new regulatory environment.
Having full control over eDiscovery also benefits organizations and their legal teams by giving them a tighter grip on timelines and work quality. Outsourcing steps in the eDiscovery process to third-party vendors comes with the risk that they will not meet promised deadlines or they will perform shoddy work. These failures can cause legal teams to not meet their eDiscovery obligations, which can have significant consequences, such as increased legal expenses, court sanctions, or even the loss of the ability to fully present their organization’s case in court.
Taking eDiscovery In-House Allows Legal Teams to Maintain Security
Newer in-house eDiscovery tools incorporate the latest cybersecurity standards to protect an organization’s sensitive data, including confidential and proprietary information and personally identifiable information (PII). Transferring data to and from third-party vendors comes with the risk of the data being compromised by bad actors. Some vendors may not implement the highest standards in cybersecurity, even when they claim to do so. eDiscovery vendors are also targets for hackers looking to steal confidential corporate data or PII. Keeping eDiscovery in-house helps organizations and their legal teams ensure they’ve taken necessary steps to secure their eDiscovery data.
Modern eDiscovery Tools Leverage AI and New Technologies
Today’s in-house eDiscovery solutions use artificial intelligence/machine learning and other cutting-edge technologies to automate and streamline the eDiscovery process. These new features make eDiscovery tools simple and efficient, even for small legal teams without deep experience with technology or IT support personnel.
With AI, eDiscovery solutions enhance search capabilities to target relevant ESI while excluding non-relevant data, categorize documents, and help redact privileged information or PII. The automated capabilities of new eDiscovery solutions can reduce the time legal teams spend on document review.
Tools that leverage AI/machine learning can also enhance the accuracy of document productions by ensuring that relevant documents aren’t left out or that sensitive or confidential information isn’t inadvertently disclosed. Modern eDiscovery solutions can handle various data types and sources, allowing them to keep up with rapid advances in technology.
Modern Tools Can Scale with an Organization’s Needs
eDiscovery platforms offer significant flexibility and customization for organizations. Rather than a one-size-fits-all solution that may be too powerful and too expensive for what they need, modern tools can scale with an organization’s needs. Organizations can add functionality to their eDiscovery platform as their needs change.
In addition, they can adopt newer eDiscovery tools for limited purposes, such as responding to subpoenas or records requests, on an as-needed basis before adding more features after they’ve become comfortable with an eDiscovery platform and its capabilities.
For many years, organizations turned to third-party vendors to handle many, if not all, of their eDiscovery needs. Outsourcing eDiscovery was the way to go because of vendors’ technological expertise and the perceived cost-savings of not building those capabilities in-house.
The tide has turned. Today’s eDiscovery solutions include ones that even the smallest organizations can use to cost-effectively bring the eDiscovery process in-house. By doing so, organizations and their legal teams can keep full control over the process, defend productions to opposing parties and courts, and maintain the highest standards of data security. In addition, they can keep their options open by scaling a solution’s functionality to meet their needs—all while realizing potentially huge cost savings.