Risks are everywhere in ediscovery, but you can do something about them
In ediscovery, the ground is littered with landmines. The unwary can be caught up in predictable as well as unexpected risks, from spoliation sanctions to unnecessary settlements to unreasonably high legal costs.
Identifying, evaluating, and mitigating those risks is one of the keys to ediscovery success. Fortunately, in-house processing and review offer an accessible solution to reduce both obvious and more subtle risks.
The Prevalence of Risks in Ediscovery
Some risks are easier to identify than others. Fail to preserve the right information in a case and you’ll get slapped with a spoliation sanction. Fail to provide adequate data security measures and your systems may get hacked. Fail to accurately and rapidly assess a case and you can settle for far too much — or push forward into unwinnable litigation.
And it’s not just litigation that’s fraught with risk. Internal and external investigations also demand timely evaluation of company data, with delays or noncompliance posing substantial repercussions.
Reducing the risks attendant with ediscovery can save you time, money, and even your company’s reputation. But with manual processing, legacy software, and outsourcing, you instead open the door to unwanted, unnecessary risks.
The Risks Associated With Legacy Software and Outsourced Processing and Review
Poor data security. With the poor security measures of on-premise legacy software designed in the pre-cloud age, your data is at risk for hacking, unauthorized access, and unintended modification. Nor is outsourcing any better. Rather, when you send your business’s most sensitive data to an external vendor or law firm, you dramatically increase the risk of a security breach and surrender any control over its protection. Data is most vulnerable when it’s in transit; keep it in a secure true-cloud software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider system and you eliminate that vulnerability.
Delayed insight. Both legacy software and outsourcing simply take too long to return useful information. Legacy systems are notoriously laggy, with a difficult interface that causes bottlenecks and frustration. And our customers report that outsourced data processing takes weeks — weeks in which they have no access to their data, and accordingly no insights about how to proceed.
When insights are delayed, your risk of making a bad decision skyrockets while your opportunity to make a good decision evaporates. You might settle for too much money out of fear, or refuse to settle based on misinformation; either way, you cannot have confidence in your decisions. Worse, you never accumulate institutional knowledge about the legal problems you face or your company’s fundamental data, so your decisions don’t get better over time.
Noncompliance with investigations. With the tight deadlines of SEC investigations and FOIA requests, delayed insight doesn’t just impinge on effective decision-making: it also introduces a risk of penalties for noncompliance.
Loss of confidentiality. Legacy software systems tend to be difficult to use, creating a bottleneck where only a few trained or certified individuals can process or review data, or where the IT department must help. Outsourcing to a third-party vendor or law firm also expands the number of people with access to information. The more people who have their hands on your data, and the more places it travels, the greater the likelihood that its confidentiality will be breached. In the case of internal misconduct investigations, there’s also an increased risk that the person under investigation will encounter or have an opportunity to modify that data.
But all of these risks can be either avoided or dramatically reduced with in-house processing and review.
In-House Ediscovery Reduces Risks
Strong data security. Our customers report that they experience fewer data breaches with in-house processing and review. Working with a SaaS provider that has earned SOC 2 Type 2 certification for both its data hosting and its software application reduces your risk of data security breaches and the financial and reputational damage they cause.
Rapid, reliable early case assessment. Our customers report saving somewhere on the order of $10,000 to $50,000 on each case where they can reach a faster resolution using in-house processing and review. Best-in-class scalable and elastic cloud-based systems can process 1.2 terabytes of data in under four hours, instead of the 160 hours it would take a legacy on-site processing system to churn through the same data. That’s almost an entire week saved.
For example, we worked with a casino that experienced a spike in slip-and-fall cases. As soon as management was able to gain rapid access to its own data through in-house ediscovery, they discovered that their cleaning staff had changed to a new floor-cleaning product. Management immediately corrected the problem and not only saved money, but prevented additional injuries.
Additionally, in-house ediscovery allows businesses to master their own data, accumulating institutional knowledge. Our customers say that once they’ve identified common data that is relevant to multiple cases, they experience a 75% reduction in the time it would have taken them to collect and process redundant data. Over time, this knowledge base speeds insights, allowing ever-more-effective early case assessment and minimizing the risks attendant with delays.
Compliance with tight deadlines. That speed to information also vastly increases the likelihood of compliance with investigative deadlines.
Confidentiality. Internal investigations, whether they involve harassment, embezzling, or other misconduct, require the utmost confidentiality and tact. An intuitive cloud-based SaaS platform allows anyone in legal to ingest and process data without seeking help from IT or other departments — and without sending clues to finance in the form of law firm bills.
Bringing ediscovery processing and review in house can slash your risks of data security breaches, poor decisions based on inadequate or delayed information, noncompliance with deadlines, and loss of confidentiality. All of these risk reductions add up to significant cost savings, especially if your organization manages a large ediscovery volume. Just as critically, reducing risks can save your reputation — and that’s the foundation your entire organization is built on.
Don’t let costs discourage you. In a recent survey that solicited input from over a dozen customers, we’ve found that a typical organization experiences a remarkable 385% ROI in the first year of using an automated ediscovery solution. At that rate, a similar organization would generate a positive return in as little as three months.