Early Case Assessment: 3 Words to Drive Down eDiscovery Costs

by | Jan 26, 2016

eDiscovery Expect a Shift to Early Case Assessment in 2016

A growing number of in-house counsel and litigation professionals are driving a change in the conversation about how technology can play the most valuable role in the eDiscovery workflow.

“We predict a sea change for litigation technology in 2016 brought about by the emphasis on Early Case Assessment (ECA),” writes Steve Ashbacher, vice president of litigation solutions at LexisNexis, in a recent article published in Legaltech News.

“At the heart of ECA is the need to understand and deal with very large data sets resulting from the growing volume of electronic evidence, litigation and regulatory investigations, and make the right decision for the client when it comes to litigation versus settlement.”

Ashbacher notes that conducting effective ECA provides a means for litigation teams to assess exposure quickly, reduce cost and better shape litigation strategy. The problem is that up until recently, “there were both software and hardware products labeled as ‘early case assessment’ solutions that in reality provided very little help at the front end of eDiscovery that was different from the major eDiscovery management platforms,” he writes.

“But times have changed. The new generation of early case assessment software tools are powered by advanced search engines and analytics that are designed specifically for the rigors of eDiscovery, enabling litigation teams to receive instant feedback on their search criteria and better filter their results.”

In his piece, Ashbacher lays out three major benefits to a focus on ECA as the key to the eDiscovery workflow:

1. Greater insights from the outset.

“An organization can use data gleaned from their software, along with the input of key stakeholders to very quickly understand any potential exposure in the initial data set,” writes Ashbacher.

2. Better litigation management.

The best ECA tools help litigation teams obtain enough information about the stakes involved to decide how to proceed with the case. That translates into less money and time spent on setting the case strategy.

3. Less outside expense.

“In-house litigation teams have told us that certain eDiscovery tools can provide internal processing power that analyzes data without having to engage an outside firm — and without having to hire more staff members to support a full eDiscovery suite,” according to Ashbacher.

Ashbacher acknowledges that there is a need for better tools and processes that help corporate counsel and litigators to instantly get a snapshot of the data in front of them, with better analytics and simpler interfaces for non-technical users.

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Note: This a guest post from Daryn Teague, who provides support to the litigation software product line based in the LexisNexis Raleigh Technology Center.

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Photo credit: Flickr, James Lumb, Needle in a Haystack (CC BY 2.0)

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