With the increased legal burden introduced by the changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure driving the litigation market to contain costs related to eDiscovery, Early Case Assessment (ECA) solution providers such as Clearwell Systems have gained a tremendous following. However, at a cost of $150 per gigabyte to assess your case and/or develop strategies for Rule 26(f) meetings, there is still plenty of room for new and less expensive solutions.
And, it appears that Level 9, a software development firm out of Atlanta, GA has come up with a solution called earlyCASE to fill the demand for a lower cost ECA.
earlyCASE is a SaaS based eDiscovery application which uses an on-demand deployment model (runs on your local PC) and analyzes the ESI that your computer can access in-place without the data ever leaving your computer or network. earlyCASE allows you to quickly see and understand all of your data before it is sent on to Electronic Data Discovery (EDD) and document review. It supports multiple languages, extracts metadata, generates hash values, detects duplicates, email conversation threads and creates a local inventory database of documents and emails. earlyCASE allows users to make informed discovery decisions and easily cut down the size of data sets through filter and culling rules before going into the meet and confer, discovery processing and document review.
earlyCASE is offered in three versions, a Basic (FREE) version, a Professional version for a small flat rate charge, regardless of the amount of data you analyze, and an enterprise edition. The Basic version offers 28+ high-quality eDiscovery reports, one which estimates your processing and review budget while providing an immediate understanding of your data. With the Professional version, Lotus Notes and EnCase images are processed, a 26(f) report for meet and confer is available to help clients reduce legal risk exposure by offering a necessary view of the legal case information—custodians, context, third parties, and more.
earlyCASE provides you the tools and results to best understand, define and memorialize the ESI going into the meet and confer. Duplicate document detection, container processing (zip, rar, arc), Lotus Notes NSF’s and EnCase images are the primary reasons most people use the Professional version of earlyCASE.
earlyCASE basic is available for FREE, earlyCASE Professional is priced at $198 per run (unlimited data), and earlyCASE Enterprise licenses start at $8,000.
Having tested earlyCASE on my laptop, I found it to be extremely easy to load, easy to use and fast. It generated a reasonable quote of how much it was going to cost to process the data that I identified, provided an adequate number of standard reports for analysis and review and because it sits on an MS Access Database, I was able to build several custom reports that met my specific reporting requirements. All in all, I identifed and analyzed almost 20 gigabytes of data and it only costs $198 as opposed to the $3,000 it would have cost for the same basic information using other ECA tools.
earlyCASE is not an EDD tool. But, it seems to have filled the void for a lower cost ECA and hopefully has opened the door for more lower cost and easy to use SaaS based eDiscovery solutions.