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The Quest for an E-Discovery Provider

Selecting an e-discovery provider can be a daunting task. At first blush, the range of service providers, technologies and the scope of their offerings may seem dizzying. To sort through the array of options and find the ideal provider, organizations must establish a process that allows them to meet their departmental objectives and budget.

No single process will fit every organization’s needs, but here are some suggested steps loosely based on one law firm’s recent quest to meet its e-discovery match.

1.  Develop a team.

First, nominate a selection team that will define your needs and objectives. The team should include the chief information officer, IT staff, attorneys familiar with e-discovery, and the practice support team. In addition to the important task of defining objectives, the team should take stock of current discovery tools, noting their features and any gaps.

2.  Develop clear goals.

Are you looking for tools and technology to adopt internally to be managed by your own team, or are you looking to outsource some or all aspects of e-discovery to a service provider?  Define and clarify your needs and objectives at the outset – the process will be much more streamlined if your team’s goals are clear.

3.  Identify possible solutions.

Armed with an inventory of the legal team’s needs, review the potential solutions. Use legal technology conferences, such as the ILTA Conference that begins on August 18, as opportunities to compile a list of potential providers and products. Visit provider booths to ask questions about features and to schedule product demonstrations. Thoroughly document and compile the group’s analysis of each product as it compares to your needs.

4.  Solicit bids.

Use the information you’ve gathered to narrow the list of candidates to those with features that match your needs. Send this group an RFP designed to explore how each provider can meet the departmental needs and requirements identified by your selection team. RFPs typically ask for details on the provider’s software specifications, infrastructure requirements, licensing terms, price schedules, and support services, including installation, training, and upgrading the system.

5.  Take a closer look – conduct a proof of concept.

After reviewing the proposals, the selection team should again winnow the pool of providers. Invite this group to meet with the selection team to demonstrate how their product matches your requirements. This is also an appropriate time to ask the provider to enter your data into its system for testing in a proof of concept that you can manage on your end. Based on the results, make the final cuts before selection.

6.  Make informed recommendations and solicit feedback.

After narrowing the contenders to two or three, invite them to present a product overview to the entire legal team. Record the presentations to ensure everyone has an opportunity to participate. At this time, the selection team may want to perform final, hands-on testing of each platform’s functionality.

7.  Decide and implement.

Finally, the selection team should use the legal team’s evaluations and hands-on reviews to pick a provider and proceed with implementation.

One last tip: vet the candidates now, before a crisis arises, to give yourself adequate time to review the providers, evaluate their products, and make an informed selection.

Dean Kuhlmann is vice president, business development at Lateral Data, a Conduent company. He can be reached at

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