In my job, I spend a lot of time talking to customers and potential customers. I hear what they’re worried about, and what their priorities are. It’s the most useful thing I do all day. Oftentimes, the feedback is expected: they care about ease of use and fast, accurate search. However, sometimes trends emerge that disrupt the status quo. Take, for example, processing fees. Traditionally, that’s how ediscovery vendors charged for their technology. The more data you process, the more you brought onto the platform, the more you paid. But it’s clear to me that model is crumbling. Customers aren’t having it anymore.
Digital information explosion means massive collections
The reason is the explosion in digital information, which has sent processing fees soaring. Even mid-size cases now involve volumes of data that would have seemed impossible a decade ago. There are more of the common documents—email, spreadsheets and the like—as well as new media types such as text messages and social media. Over the horizon is the Internet of Things. Put it all together, and even modest production requests are turning up massive collections.
That puts case managers in a bind. They don’t have a blank check for ediscovery. They want to process as little as possible to minimize costs. On the other hand, they know that as the case evolves, the other side may compel them to produce documents they didn’t import in the first pass. If that happens, they’ll have to perform another collection at great expense and under more duress, more than canceling any savings they achieved the first time around. They’re forced to gamble: pay more up front for a broad collection—perhaps unnecessarily—or take a chance on a narrower collection that may come back to bite them.
Pay for the platform, not the processing
Who needs that stress? Storage is cheap. Processing can be automated. And in an age of big data, customers expect to have information at their fingertips, even if they didn’t know they’d need it.
That’s why Everlaw doesn’t charge for processing. In our view customers ought to pay for the value they get out of the platform, not how much data they put into it. Processing fees were always a fairly arbitrary way to charge for ediscovery. Now they actually push clients to act against their best interests.
The more I hear, the more convinced I am that the rest of the industry will have to go the same direction. After all, user experience isn’t just about clean, intuitive interfaces. It’s about peace of mind. There are enough hard choices in ediscovery already without foisting more on the customer. You shouldn’t have to roll the dice just to review your data.
Update: Everlaw’s self-serve uploads and productions have arrived! Now you can upload and produce data yourself, on your own schedule, for no additional fees. Get the details here: https://blog.everlaw.com/2016/12/14/a-new-way-to-use-everlaw/