When companies and law firms are considering a service provider to host their data, they often don’t think to ask the other parties involved in the litigation about creating a shared repository. There are many advantages to the parties in using the same provider and few disadvantages if the appropriate processes are utilized. These benefits include:
- Lower hosting and review costs. A shared database model can be the perfect solution for co-defendants or co-plaintiffs interested in reducing their eDiscovery spend by sharing costs. Attorneys from different firms representing parties whose interests are mostly aligned may feel comfortable in sharing a joint workspace and even work product that could streamline their eDiscovery workflow in addition to reducing their total eDiscovery spend.
- Lower production costs. Production specifications for ESI document deliverables can be time-consuming and costly depending on volume. A growing trend in the industry is to produce documents to opposing counsel by providing them access to the documents in a hosted environment. The most cost-effective option would be to provide opposing counsel access directly to the environment in which they are currently hosted.
- Consistent work product. When parties are using the same provider, the work will be done with the identical processing tools and workflows.
- Improved communication and efficiency. Parties can easily share information and benefit from streamlined processing and leveraging data re-use. There is also no lost time or miscommunication resulting from multiple vendors needing to coordinate.
Despite the benefits, data privacy and security should always be concerns. Some hosting platforms like Relativity provide administrative users with options to set up highly granular security settings. Work product or even individual documents can also be limited to viewing by specific law firms or individuals within groups that all have access to the same hosted environment.
Even litigants on opposing sides of a matter should be able to utilize a shared database. However, there is the potential, through human error, that opposing parties may inadvertently have access to work product or documents that are not intended for their viewing. In these cases, the safer solution that still allows for sharing of data would be the creation of a separate production workspace to house production data for online review.
If you are considering a shared data repository, it is important to work with a service provider with the right qualifications including:
- Top level infrastructure and technology for secure, controlled access
- Enterprise and user-level permissioning
- Deep experiencein handling complex multi-party projects.