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Increasing Revenue and Reducing Overhead in the Era of Electronic Discovery
By Kristin Branson
E-discovery has grown from an atypical procedure required in special cases in the late 90s to one enveloping almost every litigation matter. It adds significant costs to almost every case. Without the experience or knowledge to better understand the processes involved in e-discovery, litigators and their teams have necessarily surrendered the preparation of electronically stored information or ESI (processing) to outside providers and consultants, often absorbing the cost as overhead or passing the final invoices back to their clients for payment.
Processing involves using sophisticated software to cull the raw ESI collected from hard drives and servers, removing duplicate and obviously irrelevant documents (e.g., personal email and memos about the office holiday party). The service provider then transforms the remaining documents into a load file for document review software (e.g., Concordance® software), preserving metadata and collating email and attachments, so that lawyers like you can begin your relevancy review.
The whole process can seem like an impenetrable mystery to many lawyers. But it need not be. It's simply the modern equivalent of billable work that firms like yours used to perform when documents existed on paper.
As e-discovery processing becomes a common procedure, processing software has become increasingly easy to use (all software follows this path-think back to the early word processors). The pool of technologically experienced litigation support personnel has likewise grown to meet the demands of e-discovery. In keeping with these developments, more and more law firms now handle this intermediate step between document collection and review internally. These firms not only eliminate the cost of outsourcing the job, but also recapture a lost revenue stream by using their own litigation support teams to prepare the ESI for attorney review.
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