Managed eDiscovery Services in the Cloud: The future is Now

Managing eDiscovery in the cloud is in the future for many organizations; but for others it’s the present. Managed eDiscovery offers law firms, corporations, and government entities the tools to control both costs and processes throughout the eDiscovery lifecycle.

There are four major components to eDiscovery operations: people, processes, software, and hardware. Managed eDiscovery allows your people to implement your processes, utilizing vendor software and hardware to run your operations. When the need arises, you have access to the vendor’s expertise. In some cases, you can license software yourself, and install it on the vendor’s hardware for your use.

In a nutshell, managed eDiscovery gives you your own customized eDiscovery solution without the capital outlays, maintenance, upgrades and personnel commitments required to build it yourself.

The Evolution of Managed Services

In the recent past, most legal departments made a choice between vendor-reliance and building in-house eDiscovery capabilities. When in-house capacity was insufficient, the legal department outsourced overflow to vendors.

Many companies found vendor-reliance unacceptable. Cost-predictions were often futile pricing models, compressed data and lack of communication frequently led to invoices that far exceeded estimates. Vendor workflows didn’t always mesh with in-house processes, and “black-box” vendor services caused uncertainty and frustration in setting and meeting expectations.

In response, some legal departments sought to build their own internal eDiscovery capability. This approach had the advantage of process and workflow control. In addition, companies were able to realize cost savings, and some law firms managed to create profit centers from their eDiscovery services.

However, the required investment in technology and expertise made in-house eDiscovery too expensive for the majority of companies and firms. Others made business decisions not to go the in-house route to limit risk exposure or to focus on core offerings. Yet companies and firms without robust litigation support departments found themselves at a competitive disadvantage, and largely powerless to exercise any control over escalating eDiscovery costs.

Market Realities are Changing In-House eDiscovery

Even the companies who did build eDiscovery departments are revisiting their in-house
model because of certain market realities:

    • More complexity. The complexity of some eDiscovery processes has increased with a growing diversity of file types, and the increased diligence expected by courts.
    • Fast-growing unstructured data. The volume of unstructured data continues to grow, and much of it is potentially subject to discovery. Some firms have declined altogether to take on the custodial challenges of big data.
    • Rapid technology changes. eDiscovery technology has undergone rapid change. Fast changes require larger and more frequent ongoing investments in updated technology, along with more personnel and training.
    • Security challenges. Recent highly publicized security breaches have increased the focus on cyber-security and caused some firms to look at ways to mitigate risks.
    • Rapid scaling challenges. When a matter grows larger than expected, the eDiscovery team may find it hard to get capital expenditure approvals for rapid scaling. It may be entirely unfeasible to go through the normal channels to purchase additional hardware and software.
    • Wider attorney acceptance of the cloud. More attorneys are accepting cloud-based solutions, along with more mature offerings and enhanced infrastructure to support them.

How Managed eDiscovery Meets Challenges and Opportunities

Managed eDiscovery presents an alternative “hybrid” option for companies who outsource to vendors, as well as for companies with in-house capability. Companies with in-house litigation support departments lose nothing by adding managed services. They still leverage their experience and knowledge on future matters, maintain their existing workflows, and exercise control over their data. And they gain much lower costs without capital investments, the advantage of rapid scaling, and the ability to outsource services if and when they want to.

How Does Managed eDiscovery Work?

Managed eDiscovery is a combination of cloud computing and support services. Cloud computing is a collection of technologies that allow access to computing power through the internet, instead of an organization’s server room. Managed eDiscovery takes primary advantage of two cloud computing technologies: Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Any software application accessible as a web page is considered SaaS. SaaS is commonly used in the legal industry for hosted review. In a pure SaaS model, the software is licensed by the vendor who also takes responsibility for all maintenance including upgrades, patches, security and redundancy. If you need your storage to quickly spike up, your SaaS vendor can ramp up your storage allocation, usually without interrupting existing processes. You pay for the additional storage only for as long as you need it.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

IaaS grants customers access to servers, routers, storage, and other computing infrastructure over the internet. These services allow companies to utilize the internet for scalable storage and processing cycles. The infrastructure is similar to co-locating equipment at an offsite data center, except you don’t have to buy the equipment. Instead you only pay for what you use, and the environment can be scaled up or down to match the uneven workflow common in e-Discovery.


Typically, an organization uses in-house resources to handle eDiscovery phases through (or up to) collection. After collection, data is uploaded to the service provider’s data center. Some vendors offer high speed FTP (or FTP-like) transfer options while large data sets are often shipped directly to the data center. Your in-house technicians can take over from there and handle any or all phases from processing through production, including the setup and project management of hosted review databases.

With Managed eDiscovery, your technicians and project managers can log into software hosted in a secure data center and perform as much, or as little, of the actual data manipulation and project management as you choose. The service provider fills in the gaps and provides technical assistance. The software can be licensed by the vendor or by you.


For corporations, Managed eDiscovery allows attorneys to push all matters through the company’s workflows in a centralized location, collaborating with outside counsel wherever they’re physically located. Data can easily be harvested once and then used in multiple matters, replicating privilege and redaction calls where appropriate.

Additionally, organizations may find it easier to budget for Managed eDiscovery, as capital expenditures typically require more layers of approval and more advance notice than an expense budget. It’s also easier to manage and predict costs and return on investment with the monthly billing of Managed eDiscovery, instead of the startup costs, depreciation, and labor associated with buying and maintaining your own hardware and software.

Perhaps most importantly, Managed eDiscovery reduces stress on your internal systems and the people who maintain them.

Harbor Litigation Solutions Managed eDiscovery

  • Complete control by your inhouse operations team
  • Greater than 57% savings over building and maintaining the hardware and software yourself
  • Ability to ramp-up quickly with no capital outlays
  • Ability to scale-down when matters come offline
  • Bank-level data security
  • Done-for-you software upgrades and patches
  • Assistance when you need it
  • Not volume based – i.e. no per-GB fees
  • Easily re-use attorney work product across matters
  • Focus on core competencies, not hardware and software