It’s safe to say e-discovery is a problem that is not going away. It impacts every organization of every size and every vertical. Couple ever-evolving rules and case law with a dramatically changing digital landscape and you get today’s hottest water cooler conversation amongst legal and IT teams alike.
Perhaps you or your organization are weighing the costs of implementing an in-house e-discovery strategy with the costs of an outsourced solution or even the risks of taking a gamble without one. We all know this is a dangerous proposition, but most organizations require some hard data on what the return on investment will be rather than endlessly playing out “what if” scenarios. I’m happy to share some helpful statistics on this, hot off the press from Osterman Research. The report, “The ROI of Information Governance,” highlights cost savings across many different facets of an organization. I encourage you to take a look at the broad scope of this research on information governance. For the context of this conversation, let’s talk about the two biggest areas of impact an eDiscovery strategy will have on your business:
- Collection Savings: With data being aggregated from email, files, social media and enterprise collaboration systems, organizations need a smarter method to bring data collection under control. According to Osterman, there are two rules of thumb in e-discovery response: the more your enterprise lacks information management, the more time you search for potentially relevant content; and, the more electronic content you have, the higher the cost of collection. When calculating the estimated cost savings during eDiscovery, defensible disposal and file deduplication play a key role. In other words, the more valueless data that can be removed from the enterprise before a discovery request is received, the less data that will have to be collected and culled. Studies have shown much of the data collected and reviewed during discovery in reality should not have existed and would have been removed and not included in e-discovery processes if effective information governance had been present. The bottom line is that retaining data that is not subject to retention by law or to the running of the business can pose a huge cost liability in e-discovery.
- Review Savings: eDiscovery review is the single most expensive part of the entire e-discovery process, accounting for 70% of the total cost. Let’s face it: paying a lawyer by the hour is not cheap. Paying a lawyer by the hour to review duplicate or unresponsive data is just downright frivolous. Osterman walks through a typical scenario, based on the average of 7 discovery events per year. He utilizes the legal industry standard of a manual review rate of 50 pages per hour at $64 per hour, and estimates the total number of manual review hours at 11,206. Using this information, he estimates the e-discovery review cost of $0.771 million for this single eDiscovery event and $5.02 million annually. Let me repeat…5 million dollars a year!! If that doesn’t help wake up the opposition in your organization, I don’t know what will.
One thing is certain, cost of eDiscovery is directly related to how efficiently you and your employees manage your organization’s information. Every day, Proofpoint helps our customers to automate the collection, preservation and discovery of information from the industry’s broadest collection of sources. This can help reduce your e-discovery workload by 80% and is the first step in laying a forward-thinking foundation for e-discovery actions like data mapping, ECA’s and legal holds to reduce risk and control both in-house and third-party costs.
We know it’s difficult to evolve with today’s changing landscape and future-proof your e-discovery strategies against this new digital era. We’d love to keep this discussion going. How are you solving your e-discovery challenges today? What is the most painful part? Have you calculated your own annual collection and review costs? Please share with us.
Emily Wojcik is the Director of Product Marketing at Proofpoint for Archive and Information Governance Solutions. Emily is a member of ARMA, EDRM and ACEDS. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Proofpoint, Inc.