While eDiscovery has been used by big law firms for a while, today, tools like WIND are making it more accessible to firms of all sizes. That’s important because a substantial majority of attorneys work at firms of 20 attorneys or less, and eDiscovery is becoming a more prevalent facet of all kinds of litigation. But first, the question should be asked: why would a small firm need eDiscovery knowhow and tools?
Here are a few reasons why it’s imperative that every small firm that handles litigation be eDiscovery ready.
1. There is more data than ever.
This may not be a shock to everyone, but we are all producing more data than ever (it’s estimated that the average internet user generates 0.5 GB of data each day, and that 2.5 quintillion bytes are produced by the world each day), and data has become a part of every facet of our lives. As a result, electronic data hits upon so many parts of legal disputes, and small firms and solos should therefore be ready and aware of what that data can mean for their case.
Tip: A few questions you should think about for your case:
How did my client communicate? Text messages? Work emails? Personal emails? Social media? Cloud storage like Google Drive or Dropbox?
How did the opposing party communicate?
2. Level the playing field. The opposing party is likely already using it to their advantage.
eDiscovery is not necessarily a pain point, but can be the quickest way to go through large volumes of information. By being able to search through documents quickly, you’ll be able to determine case strategy early on, and find data that could change your case’s outcome. Big law firms are using it. Small firms, especially plaintiffs’ firms, need to understand how it works, and leverage the same tools.
Tip: Make sure you’re not working with PDF productions, which often lack metadata like the author of the file, when the file was created, and can often not be fully searchable. You can see our template for asking for ESI here.
3. State Bars are Requiring eDiscovery Knowledge
After some embarrassing incidents, state bars have started requiring their attorneys to understand how eDiscovery works. Over half the states have acknowledged some type of requirement for technical competence. Florida just became the first state to mandate 3 hours of technology CLE for attorneys each reporting period. The State Bar of California Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility & Conduct Formal Opinion No. 2015-193 from June 30, 2015 states that an attorney’s’ ethical duty of competence extends to eDiscovery and that attorneys must keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice… including relevant technology. When facing a case subject to eDiscovery, to uphold his/her duty of competence, an attorney has three options: (1) become proficient at eDiscovery by acquiring sufficient learning/skill, (2) hire or consult with an expert who is proficient at eDiscovery, or (3) reject the case.
Tip: Use the E-STET Academy as a learning base for eDiscovery. Our FAQ is a great place to start.
4. It’s not as cost prohibitive as it used to be.
Rather than having to set up a whole infrastructure of servers, and get your staff trained in a new tool, simplified cloud options are giving firms of all sizes access to solid eDiscovery tools. In the past, small firms had to develop the server infrastructure to handle the data and software for eDiscovery, and this could easily cost tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars.
Tip: WIND starts at $299 per month, and gives you 25GB of data and a Relativity license. You can easily scale up or down to add more data and Relativity users. Owning your own solution doesn’t give you the same flexibility.