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Blog  |  July 28, 2021

Self-Service or Full-Service eDiscovery? Fill ‘Er Up!

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you know that eDiscovery workflows are like snowflakes, no two are alike.  They can vary based on, the nature of the dispute, the type of proceeding (e.g., arbitration, state or federal court), the type of data in the ESI collection and more.

Not only that, but the people and teams involved in executing these workflows can vary widely – from a sole proprietor attorney managing discovery for their individual plaintiff clients to a large company with an entire team dedicated to managing a busy discovery docket.  As a result, each company or firm has different needs when it comes to their approach to eDiscovery.  And, for many, those needs even vary from project to project and require support for a variety of workflows. eDiscovery service providers can be likened to gas stations – fill up with gas, check the battery, clean the windows, or put air in the tires – yourself, with assistance, or some of both!

The Self-Service Solution

eDiscovery solutions and approaches have traditionally been very compartmentalized, based on the phases of the EDRM.  Companies typically used one solution for preservation and legal hold.  Collection was either performed manually or via a forensic collection solution (when needed).  Processing (which included conversion to TIFF or PDF) was performed by another stand-alone solution, then processed ESI was manually loaded into a review platform for search and review.  Production might occur in the review platform or back in the processing platform (once the files to be produced were identified).  You needed experts that could migrate the data from platform to platform to manage the entire eDiscovery life cycle.

In the early 2010s, self-service, on-demand solutions began to emerge that automated and streamlined the transition between these multiple steps.  For a “typical” eDiscovery project for many firms, a single solution could support collection of files from a hard drive, uploading of the data to a cloud-based repository, automatic processing of the uploaded files, loading the data into the review platform for search and review, and completion of the lifecycle with the production of the identified responsive documents.  Many firms could execute certain simple, repeatable eDiscovery workflows with minimal assistance, other than initial training to use the platform and technical support of the platform as needed.  Yet, this was just the beginning of the self-service eDiscovery evolution.

Self-Service, Full-Service or Both?

Although certain workflows lend themselves to a repeatable, self-service approach, others require expert consultative assistance.  And many matters require a hybrid approach where much of the work can be done in a self-service manner with a helping hand here and there from a service provider.  Indeed, complex workflows may still require a “best of breed” approach to address intricate discovery needs, such as where three separate solutions can enhance high throughput processing, analytics, and review.  Or sometimes, a company or firm needs help from industry experts to benchmark best practices, to enhance project management or to provide managed services by integrating a team of reviewers  into the review phase.  The needs for self-service vs. full-service eDiscovery engagements typically can ebb and flow depending on the nature of the matter, the volume of documents, the timetable for completion of the review, and the complexity of the matter.

For many workflows, a hybrid approach may be most suitable where the service provider enables the corporation or firm to run the eDiscovery process and arms them with the proper resources (e.g., customized checklists, enhanced training plans, step-by-step instructions, real-time metrics and reporting) to conduct various portions of the workflow. The expert service provider, however, can bolster the inhouse expertise with anything from extra hands to project manage large matters to advice on the use of analytics, computer assisted review, or other robust review tools to solve complex issues such as the identification of privileged materials or personally identifying information.

Where to Go from Here

So, do you need a self-service solution OR do you need a full-service provider?  Chances are, you need a bit of both – the ability to take advantage of self-service resources for some workflows AND the ability to rely on a team of experts for more complex matters.  Working with a provider that can be flexible and can staff up or down to support a variety of eDiscovery challenges is the key to a successful discovery process.  So, when you drive up to the eDiscovery service station, make sure to consider all of your options for self-serve, full-service or a little bit of both.

For more regarding the Compliance flexible engagement model, click here.