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Study Shows “Traditional Linear Review” Almost Accounts for 73% of e-Discovery Costs

Posted Feb 19, 2013 11:58 AM CDT

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Many legal departments are struggling for ways to reduce, or at least stop growth in their legal budgets. One of the obvious targets for cost reduction in any legal department is the cost of responding to eDiscovery, including the cost of in-house or external attorney review for relevance and privilege. Per a Compliance, Governance and Oversight Counsel (CGOC) survey, the average legal department spends approximately $3 million per discovery to gather and prepare information for opposing counsel in litigation. The RAND Institute for Civil Justice has published a 2012 study that points out the cost of legal review for privilege and responsiveness costs an average of $0.73 for every dollar spent on eDiscovery.

The top four cost reduction strategies legal departments are considering are:

    • 1) Bring more evidence collection and analysis in-house to do more Electronically Stored Information (ESI) processing internally
      2) Keep more of the review of ESI in-house rather that utilize outside law firms
      3) Explore off-shore review
      4) Pressure external law firms for lower rates

    Many law firms are also looking for ways to reduce the cost of document review based on number 4 above; pressure from their clients to reduce the fees they charge for eDiscovery review.

    The average civil eDiscovery matter can include between 3 and 5 GB of potentially responsive ESI per employee. To put that in context, 1 GB of data can contain between 10,000 and 75,000 pages of content. Multiply that by 3 and you are conservatively looking at between 30,000 and 50,000 pages of content that should be reviewed for relevancy and privilege per employee. Now consider that litigation and eDiscovery usually includes more than one employee…ranging from two to hundreds.

    Traditional linear review, the process used for discovery review for decades, is a manual, expensive, time-consuming and error-prone process requiring teams of legal professionals to review hundreds of thousands or millions of documents one page at a time to determine relevance to a specific case. This review step drives the largest cost of eDiscovery.

    In the linear review process, documents are usually split up and given to individual reviewers haphazardly; the first 200,000 go to Bob, the second 200,000 go to Judy, the third 200,000 go to Charles in London and so on. Because of this practice and the lack of document prioritization, potentially critical documents are spread across several reviewers and are not reviewed at the same time and by the same person, greatly reducing consistency.

    Traditional linear review is usually accomplished in the following manner (simplified process):

    1. 1) Data is collected from affected custodians
      2) Data is collected from enterprise repositories
      3) Keyword searches are run on collected data to build a “potentially responsive data set”
      4) The potentially responsive data set of 112 GB (1.12 million documents) is sent to outside counsel for review and tagging
      5) Outside counsel assigns a team(s) of attorneys to review 1.12 million documents for privilege and relevance
      6) At $70/hour and a review rate of 55 documents per hour, total document review costs $1.425 million


    In the white paper, Reducing Costs with Advanced Review Strategies – Prioritization for 100% Review learn how organizations are utilizing advanced review strategies to prioritize documents for more comprehensive Early Case Assessment (ECA) and to save money when performing the review of an entire document corpus.

    Advanced review strategies covered in this white paper include:

    • • A typical linear review process
      • Predictive Coding workflows
      • Document Prioritization for 100% Review
      • The cost savings of Prioritization vs. Linear Review

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