eDiscovery continues to evolve but remains a costly endeavor. A 2010 Litigation Cost Survey found “average discovery costs were as high as $2.4 million and the average discovery cost over all reporting companies was well in excess of $600,000.” A frequently cited 2012 Rand Corporation study found the median cost of eDiscovery production to be $1.8 million. Another study from 2014 found that preservation costs alone for a large company could exceed $2 million per year.
The 2012 Rand Corporation study also found that document review was definitively the most expensive phase of an eDiscovery project, typically accounting for about $0.73 of every $1.00 spent on eDiscovery. The study concluded that, because of this disparity, “the relationship between final costs and ESI volume is essentially a directly proportional one.” So, if you want to reduce the cost of discovery, reducing the volume of documents that make it through to the review phase, by targeting the right ones in each prior phase, should be your first priority.
To more-narrowly target the right data prior to review, there are a range of tools and techniques available to you in each prior phase: before litigation, during collection and restoration, during processing, and during early case assessment and review preparation. To leverage these tools and techniques effectively, you will need to think about discovery as more than just a legal activity: you will need to think about it as an information management and retrieval exercise as well. Each project is a funnel that begins with preserved data and ends with produced data, with various filters and screens used to reduce the volume during each phase as it descends.
In this Practice Guide, we will review the key data targeting options available to you in each project phase, from simple data mapping, to full technology-assisted review, beginning with the period before litigation has begun.