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E-Discovery: What to Look for in e-Discovery Vendors

September 13, 2018 Nicole Zendejas

Electronically stored information (“ESI”) can play a vital role in any case, whether it’s family law or business and commercial litigation.  If managed appropriately, ESI can not only provide you with critical information, but can also serve in developing case strategy from inception to trial.  Hence the need for third-party e-discovery vendors, which are plentiful nowadays.  Weeding through hundreds, if not thousands, of vendors can become mind-numbing and very time consuming.  So, how do you chose the best vendor for your e-discovery needs? 

Below are key categories to look into when choosing a vendor:

Usability

Request a live demonstration of the vendor’s platform.  This way, you can see firsthand how the userface operates and can see if it is the right fit for your case.  Keep in mind that “ease of use” should apply to the entire case team, from legal assistant to senior partner working on the case.  The platform’s homepage should be simple enough that you are not bombarded with information overload, yet still provides enough information to get the user started on searching and tagging.

Customization

Some platforms allow the user to customize the tagging of documents, which means you, the user, do not have to go through the vendor’s support team to create case-specific tags; the tags can be created immediately and as needed by you.  Redaction properties should also be customizable, such as allowing for a white-colored redaction instead of black-colored redaction.  You will come to find that redaction customizations do not come standard for numerous vendors; if this is an important area for you, be sure to ask the vendor representatives up front.  Lastly, how customizable are the production properties, such as bates stamping and metadata production fields?  It’s important to note that if you prefer to be in control of these properties, then having high customizations is important.

Support

It is important to ask the vendor representative what type and how much support they can provide you.  Some vendors assign one support person per case, other vendors assign an entire team who can assist on a 24/7 basis.  It is also important to note how the vendor charges for their support team, is it by the hour or is it built into the contract?  The amount of support is important should issues arise that need immediate attention, particularly if your project is time sensitive.

Security

Ask to see the vendor’s security protocols.  You have a duty to protect your client’s information; when providing that information to a third-party vendor, it is important to know that the vendor will protect it too.  Ask what security protocols are in place and if they ever have had a breach.  Be sure to ask where their backup tapes are stored.  Make sure that the vendor’s security protocols are in line with your firm’s to ensure your client’s data is protected.

When deciding which vendor to use for e-discovery purposes, be sure to shop around and find a vendor that best suits your needs.  Remember that e-discovery can play a vital role in your case, and you want to ensure that your data is easily accessible and well-protected.