eDiscovery Daily Blog

Here are Some Questions to Ask When Selecting an eDiscovery Vendor: eDiscovery Best Practices

Let’s face it, there are a lot of eDiscovery vendors out there – like CloudNine (shameless plug warning!).  But, how do you find out which vendor is right for you?  Ask a lot of questions, of course!  Here is an article that provides several good ones to ask.

This article in the Florida Bar Practice Resource Institute (PRI) Blog (Questions You Should Ask When Selecting An E-Discovery Vendor, written by David R. Hazouri, Esq.) covers questions that 1) are aimed at getting a sense for the vendor’s market position, business philosophy and long term stability, 2) attempt to drill down on the technical components of the vendor’s operations, and 3) seek to probe how the vendor proposes to handle your matter as you have generically described it.  Let’s take a look at each section of questions more closely.

Market Position, Business Philosophy and Long Term Stability

Several good questions here, ranging from some obvious ones (How long has the company been working in e-discovery?) to not-so-obvious (What is the vendor’s philosophy/business practices with respect to technology: have they developed solutions in-house or are they tech-agnostic?).  Here are a couple in particular worth noting:

  • How does the vendor distinguish itself from its competitors and who does the vendor think it compete with? Obvious questions, but I’m amazed how many prospective clients don’t ask us those questions.  If the eDiscovery vendor can’t concisely identify three to five points of differentiation from its competitors, how are you really going to know that they’re the right vendor for you?
  • What is the vendor’s philosophy with respect to management and personnel? The author goes on to ask several questions, such as “are the founders still present” and “are there any experienced attorneys in key positions”.  In addition to his questions, I would want to know average tenure at the company for employees in general and number of years of experience in litigation support and eDiscovery – you want a vendor that isn’t experiencing a lot of turnover with key personnel that have seen a little bit of everything in the industry.

Technical Components of the Vendor’s Operations

Here are a couple of notable questions in this section:

  • What does the vendor do to maintain the security and integrity of client data? In addition to what the author covers, I would want to know about the vendor’s policies regarding chain of custody and, if they are a hosting provider, more information about where your data is stored, including the list of security mechanisms the vendor provides and whether the data is stored in some sort of protected data center or in the public cloud.  With one, you know where your data is located, in the other, you may not.
  • With respect to review platform technology in particular, are there any compatibility issues between the vendor’s processes and either your firm’s platform or any popular platform that the opposing party may be using? The more software that has to be installed, the more potential issues may occur, so browser and platform independence is a plus when you want a smooth implementation.

Handling of Your Matter

This section gets into the breadth and scalability of services provided by the vendor and has the most questions.  The author covers services ranging from custodian interviews to forensic data collection to Early Case Assessment to logical document determination for scanned files without document breaks, as well as hosting pricing and production capabilities.  Very often, you may have a need for services that you didn’t anticipate up front, so it’s important to get a thorough understanding of how the vendor provides those additional services in case you need them.  And, it’s important that their pricing structure is straightforward so that you can predict your eDiscovery costs with reasonable accuracy up front.

I love question list articles like this because each one usually has a little bit different take and identifies at least a couple of unique questions to help select the right provider.  As I see other articles and blog posts out there with good questions for eDiscovery providers, I’ll try to share them as well.

So, what do you think?  Do you have any other questions that you ask to select an eDiscovery provider?  Please share any comments you might have with us or let us know if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.