Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Greg Buckles. Published: 2015-02-26 19:00:00Format, images and links may no longer function correctly. 

Several year’s ago, my friend Craig Ball put forth the Edna Challenge, a quintessential small matter with minimal ESI and a $1,000 budget.  Earlier this week I posted a blog about SaaS providers and concluded with an opinion that the eDiscovery market is not friendly to smaller litigants, namely non-public companies and boutique firms without litigation support teams. One of the new providers that I called out stepped up to own the fact that they only cover a narrow slice of the discovery lifecycle. Escalate did not dodge my unfiltered take. Instead, they sent me a demo login and asked for my feedback, good and bad. Well here it is:

  • Saas review/production tool only – No processing and no services. What does that mean in features? Check out the Escalate profile in the eDJ Matrix and compare it to a couple other review platforms that say they cater to the SMB market.
  • No native viewer – Images or pdfs linked via an .opt file will display in the viewer otherwise it shows full text.  Native’s can be downloaded to desktop. Although this is a definite security issue for corporations with confidential docs, customer PII or other privacy concerns, it is less problematic for a small firm where the docs have already been loaded onto attorney/paralegal desktops.
  • Self serve solution for non technical staff with an intentionally simple feature set – Create a matter, upload your load files, match fields and begin review. Escalate customers are unlikely to have LAW5.0, Nuix, Clearwell or other processing software. This makes Escalate a good potential channel partner for boutique service providers looking for cheap, simple online review for their customers.
  • Subsequently not a front end for a selling services – No tech time or hidden fees.
  • Seems to be proprietary software, so no $200/GB up-charges for embedded analytics. But then again, no analytics either.
  • Target market – Small to medium sized law firms and EDD service shops, especially plaintiff shops. Escalate is a young start up. Start ups offer both opportunity and risk. They seem to have eDiscovery experience, but you are looking at putting your small case collections onto a platform that has not been run through the wringer by hundreds of serial litigants or service providers who have data on every other review platform.
  • Pricing is still being tweaked, i.e. time to score a bargain
    • Usual per GB monthly/annual hosting
    • Annual flat fee with capped storage –  Intended to be an alternative for deploying an in house solution like Concordance but scales for larger matters without concatenating db’s
  • No obvious GUI workflow for uploading collections. They will have to fix this quickly if they want to be truly self-service or onboard channel partners quickly.
  • No Help, FAQ or other customer support features. See above, but easily fixable.
  • Mass tagging and other collection triage functionality is not user friendly. It looks like all tagging and issue coding is from individual item preview, but Escalate says that you can do it. For an initial offering with otherwise good usability, this requires fixing quick.

We NEED more SaaS offerings sized for small firm/company litigants. Otherwise eDiscovery is only for the serial litigants with large regulatory, compliance and other concerns. Would I recommend Escalate for one of our typical clients? Nope. But would I consider it for a solo attorney friend who has a small matter and wants to do the review/production right? Certainly. The right tool for the right matter. If I was a boutique service provider with a lot of plaintiff clients with contingency cases, I would give Escalate a call and put another tool in my box.


Greg Buckles wants your feedback, questions or project inquiries at Greg@eDJGroupInc.com. His active research topics include analytics, mobile device discovery, the discovery impact of the cloud, Microsoft’s 2013 eDiscovery Center and multi-matter discovery. Recent consulting engagements include managing preservation during enterprise migrations, legacy tape eliminations, retention enablement and many more.

Blog perspectives are personal opinions and should not be interpreted as a professional judgment. eDJ consultants are not journalists and perspectives are based on public information. Blog content is neither approved nor reviewed by any providers prior to being posted. Do you want to share your own perspective? eDJ Group is looking for practical, professional informative perspectives free of marketing fluff, hidden agendas or personal/product bias. Outside blogs will clearly indicate the author, company and any relevant affiliations. 

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