Lean and Mean; 5 eDiscovery Platform Features that Empower Boutique Firms

In our recent webinar, Big Case, Boutique Firm, Lexbe CEO Gene Albert addressed the recent growth of small firms and their increasing ability to take on complex litigation. The trend for attorneys to move from large firms to niche “boutique” firms allows lawyers to take control of their practice, specialize, and grow their clientele. The challenge these enterprising attorneys face is operating with limited resources, especially when competing against large law firms. A boutique firm will have a smaller budget to maintain infrastructure, support staff, and may not have access to expensive hardware. In this webinar, Gene illustrates that by leveraging today’s eDiscovery technology, boutique firms can not only keep from being outgunned but can actually flip the equation to take down a large adversary.

Many large firms are reticent to dispose of expensive, but outdated, on-site eDiscovery software installations, and this is where small firms can level the playing field. Not only do cloud solutions offer the latest technology, tools, and support services, but you will also find a scalable service that can grow or shrink to meet case needs (and therefore grow or shrink your bill as your caseload dictates).

Keeping it lean and mean, these five essential features in an eDiscovery platform enable boutique firms to maximize their resources, take on large, complex cases, and win.

  1. DIY Capabilities- When evaluating the pricing of an eDiscovery platform one of the biggest hidden costs to look out for is the amount of gate-keeping your vendor builds into the service. For example, many vendors require that you pay service fees for their support staff to upload your data into their platform or will charge fees at production in order to retrieve your data. Boutique firms want the flexibility to self-administer their eDiscovery and keep these functions in-house as much as possible. DIY platforms empower the boutique firm to utilize their staff to the fullest extent while having a strong technical support infrastructure at the ready if needed.
  2. Scalable Service-  Boutique firms need to control the time and money they spend on a case. A sophisticated eDiscovery cloud service will be able to scale up the number of servers available to your firm, allowing for the fastest possible upload speed. While your internet speed plays a role in the rate of ingestion, being able to scale servers on the vendor’s end could mean your upload takes a few hours instead of days. Scaling services down can be just as important when on a budget. If your caseloads fluctuate, consider vendors with flexible pricing options, allowing you to only pay for service when you have active cases and pause service and payments when it is not needed.
  3. Blended Indexing- An index contains the library of searchable text and data extracted from the documents you upload into your eDiscovery software platform. When you enter a keyword, for example, your platform will comb your index looking for a match and retrieve the corresponding documents. Text-Based Index (Native Files) and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Based Index (Images and TIFFs) are the two main options modern eDiscovery software offers. Many platforms will only offer one index, while a few will offer both. You stand to lose valuable evidence if your platform does not run documents through both indexing methods. With the Text-Based Index your document will have all embedded text, hidden fields, comments, and metadata catalogued for search. You will miss, however, any images that contain text, such as an image of a budget chart on a PowerPoint slide.  With an OCR index your documents will be scanned and any text appearing on a document will be “lifted” off the page and catalogued for search, including the text on an embedded chart on a PowerPoint slide. While some metadata can be requested to accompany the OCRed images, you stand to lose significant amounts of data such as hidden columns on an Excel sheet, which a Text-Based Index would pick up. As you can see, having both indexes is crucial to running a complete search on all documents. While some platforms do offer both, you will have to run your entire search two times, once across each index. Blending the indexes means that you only have to run a search once and both indexes are combed for relevant hits. Lexbe refers to this as our Uber IndexSM and also includes a third index, offering a foreign language translated text catalogue.
  4. End-To-End Solutions- From early case analysis through trial, your eDiscovery platform should support your case at every step. When evaluating a vendor ensure that their software will perform processing, review, production, privilege logging, and timelining. Purchasing additional software to run these tasks not only wastes money but increases the potential for data corruption and mistakes.
  5. On-Demand Staffing- While most boutique firms want to control costs by keeping eDiscovery in-house, having access to on-demand support staffing is absolutely essential. With strict deadlines and the possibility for unforeseen hurdles, a small firm with limited staff must have access to professionals who can step in. When vetting on-demand support staff, ensure that they are able to provide technical as well as litigation support and have specialized legal eDiscovery training. Some eDiscovery software vendors will offer support staff, ensuring that they are experts in using the platform, but you should cross-check that they are equally competent in providing legal support.

Partnering with the right eDiscovery vendor greatly levels the playing field against a large firm’s substantial resources. For more information on this topic watch our webinar Big Case, Boutique Firm, available for on-demand viewing free of charge.