Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Greg Buckles. Published: 2017-01-22 19:00:00Format, images and links may no longer function correctly. 

Before I can assess the potential improvement or Return On Investement (ROI) for process or procedure changes, we need the current average cost of discovery broken out by stages, providers and data sources. Someday a client will know what they are spending and getting before they ask for help. It has not happened yet. So we identify a couple recent matters as good exemplars covering the primary matter types and I get to match 6-12 months of invoices against tracking spreadsheets and Relativity reports to determine metrics like review rates, total cost per document, relevance richness and more. One thing that drives me crazy during my invoice analysis is differentiating time associated with document review into key buckets, especially for paper docs that require bibliographic and unitization coding. The ABA created the Uniform Task Based Management System (UTBMS) codes in the 1990’s and the Ledes Oversight Committee has continued to evolve eBilling codes for Tasks, Activities and Expenses associated with most legal work. I participated in drafting the 2011 LOC eDiscovery Codes as well as the revised 2013 Revised Activity and Expense Codes. All of this effort was meant to give timekeepers and clients consistent ways to measure and track the costs in modern eDiscovery. I just wish most of my clients and their firms actually knew about this and used them. Instead, I see counsel throwing everything under favorite basic UTBMS Litigation codes (generally L110-L140 & L320). To make matters worse, most service providers have not even considered coding their time based services performed under direction of counsel. Counsel considers service providers an expense, but many times they have associates training new TAR systems, performing QC or directly coding subsets of the collection based on search terms. So how do I untangle the invoices?

Except for billing audits under dispute, I can interview timekeepers, run log reports and generally develop solid estimated metrics from the aftermath. It is not fun or quick, but it does get easier with practice. Once clients see the effort involved, they become more receptive to my recommendations to provide counsel with plain language billing code guidelines. If you dig into the actual Litigation code definitions, you will see that only L320 should be used for actual production determination review coding. But most clients do not make separate/distinct reviews for ECA (L110), issue strategy (L120), objective coding(L140) and production relevance (L320). Instead the same timekeepers perform these tasks concurrently. So the client needs to communicate their preferences to counsel for consistent coding. Or tell them to use the L600 eDiscovery Code set for all ‘coding’ related activities and use the L100-300 series for billing actual research and work product that happens to require finding/tagging documents in the review platform. If you want to REALLY get granular, you can add the activity and expense codes to modify the task codes and very clearly differentiate between research and application of review codes to collections.

I do not care which set of codes is used, only that they are applied consistently and submitted electronically in a format that allows the client to run reports without having to pay an expensive consultant to untangle them. You may not care today, but the first time you have to submit bills for cost sharing or reimbursement you will thank me. And yes, I am still participating in the LOC process. I encourage you to follow their efforts, provide public comments on proposed amendments and join if you can contribute to the process. 



Code Usage Guidance


L110 Fact Investigation/Development.

All actions to investigate and understand the facts of a matter. Covers interviews of client personnel and potential witnesses, review of documents to learn the facts of the case (but not for document production, L320), work with an investigator, and all related communications and correspondence.


L120 Analysis/Strategy.

The thinking, strategizing, and planning for a case, including discussions, writing, and meetings on case strategy. Also includes initial legal research for case assessment purposes and legal research for developing a basic case strategy. Most legal research will be under the primary task for which the research is conducted, such as research for a summary judgment motion (L240). Once concrete trial preparation begins, use L440 for trial strategy and planning.


L140 Document/File Management.

A narrowly defined task that comprises only the processes of creating and populating document and other databases or filing systems. Includes the planning, design, and overall management of this process. Work of outside vendors in building litigation support databases should be an Expense.


L320 Document Production.

Developing, responding to, objecting to, and negotiating document requests, including the mandatory meet-and-confer sessions to resolve objections. Includes identifying documents for production, reviewing documents for privilege, effecting production, and preparing requested privilege lists. (While a general review of documents produced by other parties falls under this task, coding and entering produced documents into a data base is Task L140 and reviewing documents primarily to understand the facts is Task L110.)





Hosting costs

Activities and action related to a)creation of the underlying database(s) in which unstructured and structured data which has been processed will reside for access and/or review, b) loading of the processed data into the underlying database(s), c) on-line storage required to store and make the processed data available for access and/or review, d) user access and license fees that provide the user with the ability to access and/or review the hosted data, and e) archiving data from and to on-line storage to a more cost effective for of storage such as near-line, secondary or off-line storage such as tape or cartridge in the event a matter goes dormant for a period of time.


Review Planning & Training

Activities and actions related to the development and providing of initial and ongoing training prior to initial document review or periodically throughout the document review.  Includes development of review protocol.


Objective and Subjective coding

Activities and actions related to unitizing and the objective and subjective coding of basic bibliographic information related to both electronic and paper-based data and documents, including auto-coding.


First pass document review

Activies and actions related to performing first pass document review such as determining relevancy, issue coding, tagging, and initial privilege determination.


Second pass document review

Activities and actions related to second pass QC of data and documents coded for relevancy, issue codes, tagging, and initial privilege determination during the first pass review.


Privilege review

Activities and actions related to performing final privilege review and determination of documents, as well as all privilege log related work.



Activities and actions related to the development and implementation of a redaction protocol and the actual redaction of data and documents consistent with such a protocol.


Quality assurance and control

Activities and actions related to ensuring that the process and practices used to perform analysis meet an acceptable level of defensibility.

Stay skeptical my friends!

Greg Buckles wants your feedback, questions or project inquiries at Greg@eDJGroupInc.com. Contact him directly for a free 15 minute ‘Good Karma’ call. He solves problems and creates eDiscovery solutions for enterprise and law firm clients. His active research topics include analytics, mobile device discovery, the discovery impact of the cloud, Microsoft’s Office 365/2013 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. 

0 0 votes
Article Rating