Is E-Discovery Too Expensive?

There has been a fascinating thread on the Lit Support ListServ this week that was started by the following post.  “Why is EDD and Data Processing So Expensive, why can’t IT or my secretary do this ? I know that we have all been faced with this so I am wondering if anyone  can point me to a few good references, as I want to write a document that the average person can read and understand. This will help from having to explain this 300 times a year.” 

The answers have ranged from the comically brief:  “It runs on magic, and magic is expensive.” and  “Why should lawyers get to make all the money?” to the concise and erudite answer posted by George Socha: 

“First: ‘Why is EDD and Data Processing So Expensive?’: Processing ESI can be expensive because consumers demand that the work be done very quickly and with a high degree of accuracy and reliability, in conditions where it may well be that at the outset no one knows the scope of the undertaking or the complexities and challenges to be encountered along the way. Prices vary greatly, at least in part because ³processing² means many different things. Prices have dropped considerably; as a result, however, there now is the danger of consumers paying such a low price that providers end up cutting too many corners, with a drop in quality that may not be acceptable.
But really to me the query seems to beg question, “what is ediscovery”?   A good answer to that question can be found at Ralph Loseys blog this week but it would seem to me that anyone who truly understands what ediscovery is would know that the answers to the list serv post are 1. It isn’t too expensive if done properly and 2.  Because you need special training.

Second: “Why can’t IT or my secretary do this?’ If IT or your secretary has an acceptable level of expertise and experience and is provided an
acceptable level of resources, then IT or your secretary can do the work. One is not able or unable to handle the challenges of dealing with ESI
simply because of the name of one¹s employer or the title of one¹s position. An organization does not magically become qualified to engage in electronic discovery activities simply be calling itself an electronic discovery provider, nor is an organization automatically disqualified simply because it is a law firm or a client. Rather, it is a question of expertise, experience, resources, and the like.”

 What the question really shows is the complete disdain attorneys have for litigation support professionals. I mean come on now, would that same attorney ask why his IT or secretary couldn’t draft a Motion for Summary Judgement or a restraining order? The fact is most attorneys think if you don’t learn it in law school it isn’t professional and anyone should be able to do it.  Which is why first associates fresh out of law school in New York or Chicago or LA make 2-3 times much as IT and lit support professionals with 10-15 years experience.  And why Michael Arkfeld continues to say that 95% of the attorneys in the country don’t understand ediscovery at all.


4 comments so far

  1. uberVU - social comments on

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by eMagSol: Is E-Discovery Too Expensive?

  2. […] as well, but I thought Tom O’Connor has summed it up pretty well in the following post: There has been a fascinating thread on the Lit Support ListServ this week that was started by the […]

  3. Orlando Criminal Attorney on

    I like to think that it runs on magic, it helps me when I have to sign the check.

  4. sadanand naik on

    Nice blog Tom O’Connor,

    Although an E-discovery is costlier process, law firms and corporations are reducing the cost by outsourcing their e-discovery processes to Legal Process Outsourcing organisations. It would really save up to 75% cost of the firms on E-discovery. The work is done by well trained E-Discovery lawyers without compromise on the quality.

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