Do You Need An eDiscovery Specialist?


Do you need to hire an eDiscovery specialist to manage your electronic case data?   

If your caseload is growing with more and more electronic data and you aren't a "techie" then you might want to consider your options.  One thing you should not consider is simply delegating this task to someone in your office who "knows" computers in an attempt to save money.  You've heard the phrase "knows enough to be dangerous"?  You don't want to make more of a mess of things for yourself.

So what are your options?

Depending on the volume and complexity of the data, you could hire someone in-house, a contractor or a vendor.

In-House:  This is someone who you will hire as a permanent or temporary part of your office staff.  If you are receiving daily or weekly volumes of electronic data, you will want someone with experience with intake, loading, processing and producing the data.  

Contractor:  This is someone you could hire on a temporary basis who may or may not need to work in the office but is experienced in eDiscovery matters.  This could be someone who is an as-needed basis person.

Vendor:  You can also decide to hire a litigation support vendor/company to handle the data.  Vendors would be well-equipped to handle the job at their own worksite.

What are the requirements you should look for in an eDiscovery specialist?

  • You don't have to go to law school to become an e-discovery professional. While it certainly doesn't hurt to have one, you can enter the field with a bachelor's or master's degree.  The key is EXPERIENCE.  You will want someone who knows what they are doing.
  • Most e-discovery professionals have backgrounds in law, information technology or both. Those entering the profession with legal backgrounds are traditionally paralegals, but rising salaries are attracting more attorneys to the e-discovery specialty.
  • E-discovery professionals with IT backgrounds generally possess bachelor’s degrees in information science or a related field. Some e-discovery professionals have advanced technology degrees.
  • Although it's not required to work in e-discovery, certification can increase job prospects and affect pay. Numerous programs exist at varying costs. The Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS) is among the most expensive and the most challenging, but it's also highly respected by legal employers.

The main expectation you should have when hiring an eDiscovery specialist is that you shouldn't expect something turned around in one day, eDiscovery is more of a marathon than a sprint.  Managing and processing electronic data is very time consuming and involves more than just pressing a button on the keyboard.   In fact, in my own personal experience with a recent project, there were 20 pages of steps I have to follow to process a particular set of data.  You have to be prepared to let the process work in order to do it correctly.

So how much does it cost?

According to Salary.com, the average salary for a litigation support specialist is $91,629 per year.  To contract it out, the RAND Institute for Civil Justice, it costs $18,000 to manage one gigabyte of data through review. Generally speaking, each gigabyte of ediscovery costs approximately $125 to $6,700 to collect, $600 to $6,000 to process, and, for the most expensive stage, another $1,800 to $210,000 to review. 

Costs with hiring an eDiscovery vendor vary depending on your needs and volume of data.  You will need to do some shopping to find the vendor which fits your needs.  Don't always settle with the cheapest one.  Do your homework and determine what you need to have done.


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