Law firms have access to a nearly boundless supply of technology options in terms of global eDiscovery solutions. Despite this, many firms have failed to select technology that offers them the most convenience and control. In addition, conducting electronic discovery through SaaS providers is a practice that firms are hesitant to implement.
When firms seek to globalize their data by using their technology universally, these obstacles are heightened. Accommodating eDiscovery costs domestically has been a difficult task for firms and the challenges of international data hosting and security concerns have made global eDiscovery platforms even more intimidating. Adapting to technology when working with international eDiscovery is a necessity for firms who want to process data more efficiently without suffering avoidable costs.
The Challenges of International eDiscovery
International eDiscovery adds these challenges:
- With more regulations come more complications: Data privacy and protection laws that demand compliance increase when additional countries are in the picture. GDPR Article 29 outlines the rules for data controllers under EU law as well as the protection of any ESI with private information. The consequences of noncompliance include reprimands, warnings, fines, and suspension of data processing. It is difficult to comply with FRCP guidelines for each country because they all define consent differently.
- Time and resources stretched thin: For many law firms, it is impossible to broaden their resources globally. It takes time to develop a new system from scratch in a new country, each one with uncharted challenges like people, space, technologies, and case sizes.
- Cost: Assembling resources abroad to work on international eDiscovery can be costly. Firms have to cover everything from the cost of travel to shipping materials, transferring licenses, setting up a data center, etc.
If your firm is approaching the global eDiscovery market, these challenges will often occur simultaneously.
For example, if a firm in New York is using eDiscovery software in Amsterdam, unforeseen complications are sure to arise if the software they have now is used to review documents in Europe. They’ll have to obtain software licenses in Amsterdam and allocate money and time to setting up and staffing a data center. The firm may even need to fly their litigation support staff out to Amsterdam if they want them to manage on-site. Dedicating this much labor and time is often the most costly process of global eDiscovery.
Additionally, the firm’s expenses in the United States will vary compared to costs abroad. On top of dealing with steep conversion rates due to invoices in a foreign currency, the firm will have to pay premium rates for many services and licenses. Language barriers present a challenge for reviewing documents in foreign languages, making it a necessity to outsource review services to translators or attorneys who speak Dutch. Both are costly.
Once the firm is set up, they’ll have to research the rules and laws of Amsterdam that relate to data protection and security, which often involve expensive processes. The firm might require expensive in-country hosting solutions because the law won’t allow data to be moved out of the country. If it’s an international case, it’s possible to expand to several different countries or continents. In which case, the firm would find themselves facing all of the same challenges again in a different country with different rules and regulations.
These inconsistencies and unpredictable factors are what make international eDiscovery a nuanced and costly venture.
Curbing International eDiscovery Costs
Despite all the challenges, curbing expenses of international eDiscovery services is doable. The essential tool in doing so is the global cloud infrastructure. Tech companies (ex. AWS, Azure, Google Cloud) have international networks with dependable data centers that are accessible through the cloud. This solution is convenient and less pricey than working on the ground in every one of your eDiscovery locations.
Tech giants understand technology better than anyone, which is exemplary in their highly developed infrastructure that is tested by SaaS solutions. Already equipped with resources and data centers around the world, moving data from host locations and international privacy laws will not be a problem.
Vetting vendors: ask them…
- Do you have previous experience with local jurisdictions?
- Are there safeguards that would allow me to do business there?
- What are the locations of the data centers, and how is data accessed?
- Are you equipped to handle data volumes that might grow exponentially?
- Can your technology operate in a country that does not have cloud data centers?
The advantage of the cloud is that you only pay for the resources you need for your data traffic. You should be seeking a solution stack that is packaged as a fixed monthly price for a single platform that integrates analytics, review and production tools.
Everything you need is combined with the help of a SaaS provider, so the usual hurdles that make international eDiscovery overpriced are removed, allowing you to manage your budget.
After establishing a budget, your choice currency can be used to invoice clients, rather than dealing with sky-high conversion rates. Cloud technologies remove the need for hiring expensive legal services to translate because you choose the language of the user interface and the platform provides auto-translation during document review.
What to Keep in Mind
Remember to follow these guidelines when pursuing international eDiscovery.
- Don’t transfer data across borders. Utilize hosted and mobile solutions to work in local jurisdictions. However, look out for companies that host from the United Kingdom because, post-Brexit, this approach may be flawed.
- Guarantee that your technology partner has privacy shields and data protection agreements.
- Work with a SaaS provider that can adapt to a case no matter the location. International cases deal with intricate working parts, so find a company that can accommodate multiple deployment options.
- Utilize natural language processing solutions that curb issues involving privacy and personal information.
The global eDiscovery process is not an impossible endeavor, in spite of the expenses and challenges. eDiscovery is doable and advantageous in any country with the right partner, technology, and plan.