Navigating an E-Discovery Fee Dispute

This spring I was part of a panel[1] that presented a mock e-discovery fee dispute between a law firm and a corporation that raised the central issue of who has the responsibility to ensure that electronic discovery is handled in a cost-effective manner, by in-house counsel or outside law firms.

The factual setting was that a law firm that had performed a relevance and privilege review on a corporation's ESI prior to production but had not consolidated duplicate records across custodians, resulting in a duplicative review of 19 percent of those records. The corporation refused to pay $95,000 of the $500,000 legal review bill on the grounds that, because 19 percent of those records had already been reviewed, it amounted to double-billing. The results were in line with a recent survey of leading e-discovery providers that quantified potential savings from across-custodian deduping and showed that across-custodian deduping was performed in only about half the cases. [2]

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