The Real Reason Discovery is Killing Your Small Law Firm

Dan CulhaneBlog

Man working late in dark office

I’m a solo practitioner, and converting over 10,000 pages of documents to PDF, printing them, adding Bates numbers and indexing them almost killed my law firm.

At the time, I believed that the process and the fact that I couldn’t bill for the hours spent on producing documents is what almost killed my firm.

But I was only half right.

The other very real problem was the tedium.

I became a lawyer to engage in interesting and challenging work that has real value for the people who hire me. I left big law and in-house jobs for a solo to balance my work with family and fun.

Spending over 130 hours (between me and my paralegal) on a discovery process didn’t support any of my goals. Factor in the wear and tear on my paralegal, who doesn’t show up every day in the hopes of doing mind-numbing work, and it’s easy to see how tedium took a huge, long-term toll on my practice.

As a small firm, eDiscovery is too expensive and complex for me. I don’t need AI, expensive document storage, or even the ability to search the evidence—my haystack is small enough that finding the needle is easy. And I sure don’t have an IT department to figure out how to implement and use complex technology that wasn’t even necessary.

But what if there were a middle way, between the soul-crushing tedium of manual production, and the cost-prohibitive overkill of eDiscovery? Here are tips to find the right tool for the job:

  1. Size matters
    For most cases, especially those involving less than 35,000 pages of production, a simple, automated tool is more sensible and cost effective.
  2. Beat the Tedium
    Burning yourself and your team out by converting to PDF, Bates stamping and indexing your production manually is a recipe for disaster. A discovery tool that automates these processes—without unneeded features that increase the cost and complexity—helps beat the tedium while saving you time and money.
  3. Proportionality
    Proportionality rules mean that discovery is scaled to the needs and means of the litigants. The proportionality requirement has a significant and real-world impact on the vast majority of cases—i.e., the kinds of cases litigated by most lawyers, where the amount in dispute and the parties’ resources do not justify big expenditures.
  4. Improved Quality of Service
    The right discovery tools focus you on your client and case rather than mundane, mechanical busywork. Tools that concentrate your time on substantive legal work improves the quality and value of your service to your client.
  5. Profit
    You need to make a living and, improving your firm’s efficiency can boost your profit margin and your take-home pay.

By finding and using the right document production tool for the job you are proactively making changes that will better serve you, your clients and your bottom line.

I created Discovery Genie, with the help of my son, when I needed a simple and powerful way to automate and expedite the tedious job of preparing and reviewing documents for disclosure and production. It saved my firm, which is why I encourage anyone involved in productions of 35,000 pages or less to give it a try.