The NZ E-Discovery Blog  Facilitating proportionate and efficient e-discovery

An opportunity to re-evaluate eDiscovery software options

August 12th, 2014

The increasing volumes and sources of electronic information are making it difficult to use legacy eDiscovery software to meet today’s eDiscovery challenges. As these challenges will only evolve further, it is becoming increasingly important for firms to ensure they are equipped with the practices and software to manage their client’s electronic information.

firms effectively have to pay again for the software each and every year

For a number of years many organisations have remained with legacy eDiscovery software options, many of which no longer meet their requirements. Firms have been shaping their discovery practices around the capabilities of the software, rather using the software that meets their specific requirements. Complicating the issue was that firms made a considerable upfront investment to purchase the eDiscovery software, with only a small amount paid each year to then maintain it – making it difficult for firms to move away from their legacy options. With almost all licences now charged annually, all firms effectively have to pay again for the software each and every year.

The upside of this is that is provides organisations with the opportunity to re-evaluate options annually.

More options available

There are now numerous alternative eDiscovery software options available. It is exciting times for New Zealand law firms and corporate organisations with the continual influx of options available to the legal industry. It was only a couple of years ago when there may have only been one or two options available.

Finding the right eDiscovery software can still be quite challenging, even with the increasing options available.

So what is the best eDiscovery software?

One of the first questions I am constantly asked is ‘what is the best eDiscovery software’?

Where do I start to respond to that one !

This same question comes from a multitude of sources – law firms (large and small), barristers, corporate organisations and regulators. That in itself is the problem, as they all have different requirements, and there will be specific solutions that are more tailored to their individual needs.

More important is to try and understand the specific requirements of the organisation and accordingly find a solution that suits their requirements. On many occasions what is right for one organisation, may not be right for another. In some circumstances it may be that different eDiscovery software suits the respective requirements of different matters for firms. 

Too often I come across firms that purchase software based on the guidance of the people selling the software – rather than obtaining advice from an independent perspective.

Hosted vs In-house – what is the right approach?

Re-evaluating eDiscovery software options provides the opportunity for organisations to assess if an in-house or hosted model is the best for them.

An in-house model may suit firms that have specialist resources and the budget to invest in software. However many firms are just not equipped to effectively manage eDiscovery in-house – neither do they want to be. The investment of maintaining eDiscovery in-house is not just the cost of the software, but the costs involved installing the software, purchasing additional hardware, continual training and the specialised resources required internally to manage and maintain the software. With a hosted option, this is the problem of someone else – allowing law firms to focus on the law.

a hosted option is usually disbursed directly to the client

A ‘pay as you go’ (hosted by a 3rd party) model is becoming an increasingly popular model for law firms that either do not have these internal resources to manage the software or firms that simply experience the fluctuations of litigation. The cost of a hosted option is usually disbursed directly to the client on a matter by matter basis – with no internal costs to the firm.

A hosted model allows organisations to use the software that suits the requirements of the matter, with the option to move to something else if that better suits the requirements of the next matter. On many occasions firms may use software initially as a hosted option. This provides the ability to essentially ‘test-drive’ the software and then evaluate if they want to continue with the hosted model, or decide if the right model may be to bring the software in-house.

eDiscovery products talk to each other

Some organisations have purchased or remained with legacy options, as they believed if other firms used the software then they had to as well. This is no longer the case as all eDiscovery products now ‘talk to each other’, with data being able to be migrated from one system to the other.

Fortunately the New Zealand High Court discovery rules are completely software neutral. The rules were designed to ensure that they would not favour any one product over another, with any product easily being able to comply and exchange their documents with other parties in a usable format.

No one size fits all approach

There is not a one size fits all approach, as all options have different strengths (and weaknesses). It is important to get independent advice at an early stage to help you make an informed decision on the right software for you.

Twelve months is a long time in eDiscovery, so it is always beneficial to keep abreast of the options available. With the legal technology industry moving forward at such a rapid pace, what was standard practice a few years back may soon become obsolete, as we all seek more effective practices and tools to manage the proliferation of electronic information. It may be that alternative options may suit your evolving requirements.

With the options now available, there is an opportunity for organisations to re-evaluate their eDiscovery software options – it is just a matter of finding the right one !



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