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Three thresholds for what kinds of cases a law department will handle e-discovery itself

Given the cost and complexity of e-discovery – defined by me as the steps necessary to locate electronic files, preserve them, review them and produce them – some law departments work with their information technology counterparts to do the job internally. They pick which cases to do in-house and turn to consultants and vendors for the rest.

A piece in InsideCounsel, May 2011 at 64, describes different criteria for that decision. Size may serve, such as all cases where the electronic files amount to less than 50 gigabytes. Or the amount in controversy may draw the line, such as anything under $200,000. Some companies make the decision by type of case, such as all civil lawsuits. Obviously, mixtures of these three characteristics of volume, value, and variety could also make the decision, as might existing workload of the in-house discovery team.

While I wrote the above, I checked for my recent posts about e-discovery. Even though I know little about this area, it turns out that I write about it with some consistency (See my post of Oct. 13, 2010: drawbacks to reliance on law-firm discovery centers; Nov. 30, 2010: touted e-discovery costs by big US companies; Dec. 21, 2010: predictive coding as a tool to reduce the costs of e-discovery review; Dec. 30, 2010: analytical discovery tools; Jan. 12, 2011 #2: accounts for 80% of litigation costs; Jan. 23, 2011: online training for e-discovery; Jan. 26, 2011: data from 2008 on discovery costs; April 14, 2011: Academy of Court-Appointed Masters; April 15, 2011: formula to determine what documents were not found; May 16, 2011: in-house experts decamp for vendors; May 20, 2011: ACC chooses a preferred vendor; and May 25, 2011: Google comments on e-discovery approach.).