Avansic Whitepaper: "Life After Desktop E-Discovery Applications"
02-09-2016, Avansic - Corporate
Older versions of many desktop e-discovery applications (such as Summation iBlaze, Concordance Classic, Storm Viewer, and more) are nearing their end of life. These reliable workhorses are no longer supported, or will not be in the near future. Newer systems offer enough features that it is only a matter of time before using these tools will be a reminder of the beginning days of e-discovery, especially since many of them were developed in the 1990's.

What Will It Be Like?
Many legacy tools assisted with transcript management and matter management, allowed offline usage, had defeatable licensing, and worked on a standalone system. One of the largest complaints about modern e-discovery desktop tools is that these features are not present.

On the upside, modern tools leverage their server-based technologies to provide more functional, adaptable workflows that can increase collaboration and reduce review time.

Although legacy tools are being maintained and upgraded, they are not reaching the level of usability, usefulness and collaboration of modern tools. This is especially true of the predictive coding workflow since it requires processing power beyond what is contained on a desktop computer. It is yet to be seen if there is a stopgap tool that will contain modern analytics.

Likely, modern e-discovery desktop tools will be more expensive since even the next generation of Summation and Concordance are pricier than their legacy counterparts For example, Summation iBlaze was a few hundred dollars per user per year, but the new version is a few hundred dollars per user per month.

New technologies will require more IT hardware and support. Most of the newer tools are server based, meaning immediate acquisition of hardware capable of running the new software efficiently. Maintaining this new hardware will require more active involvement as well, including scheduled maintenance for the hardware and software; for users, this means downtime and potential disruption. Additionally, the safest approaches keep dual hardware on hand to ease immediate repairs required and provide a “sandbox” for testing new versions of software releases before deployment.

New updates may also mean administrator and user training after updates and releases. As with any new release, it may fix some problems but change the look and feel of the program so more user flexibility is required. If such flexibility is not present and updates are not taken, inefficient or inaccurate software can result.

Load file formats
There has been a movement away from proprietary loadfile formats and a convergence on one loadfile format DAT/OPT (and sometimes LST). Where the .dat file contains metadata and native links, the OPT contains image information and the LST file contains the references to document text. Indeed, some of the largest litigators (the US Government in particular) have historically used DCB and have now moved to DAT/OPT loadfile formats. DII (Summation iBlaze), DCB (Concordance Classic), and MDB formats are largely deprecated.

Billing clients for inhouse e-discovery may become more complicated. Historically, desktop tools like Summation iBlaze and Concordance Classic were seen as no different from word processing or email software and were accepted as a cost of doing business. With modern solutions, a number of billing scenarios exist.

The firm could continue to see e-discovery desktop software as a cost of doing business that is not passed along to clients. Or, e-discovery is treated as a loss leader; a few hundred dollars a month are billed to clients for hours to make the system work but the firm does not break even on the cost of the system. Or the firm could find a way to balance the billing for e-discovery or managed services across clients such that the firm breaks even. Billing clients somewhere between breakeven and market e-discovery rates (being careful not to create ethics issues by turning a profit on non-legal services) is another possibility. These bills may take the form of per gigabyte, per user, per month, or per project and may vary based on the client.

What Are Some Solutions?
Historically, Summation iBlaze was used for processing, review and production, so users could look for another all-in-one that works for them. Many technologies are available on the market and are sufficient for all the aforementioned tasks. These technologies cover most of the EDRM but may not excel at any one part of the process and may not necessarily be designed for the e-discovery market.

Users could search for and use best in breed tools for each part of the process, but selection, support and maintenance can be complex and time consuming.

Users could outsource the processing and hosting of the review tool, finding a review platform they like and moving the rest of the work to a vendor. Considerations should include speed, security, ability to definitively remove data, cloud issues, support and responsiveness, and ability to follow protective orders.

Managed Services
Another possible solution is to consider the managed services offerings that are currently becoming more popular in the market and may bridge the gap between in-house and outsourcing. Managed services blends the best of the old and new worlds by shifting the IT burden to the vendor but allowing the user to perform the actual processing and review. These hosted platforms may use separate tools in the back end but the user only experiences one interface, allowing for the selection of best in breed tools.

From a cost perspective, most managed services systems are offered at fixed, and therefore predictable, price. Startup costs are usually minimal, outside of user training. Depending on the size and sophistication of your firm and IT staff this solution can help bring the best parts of each model to bear.

Change is coming, but don't despair. Numerous in-house, outsourced, or hybrid solutions exist in the current e-discovery market. Firms may need several solutions depending on the types and sizes of cases they have.

Avansic is accepting feedback on this topic, potentially for future whitepapers. Please send your comments to cle@avansic.com.