A 2020 Look at eDiscovery Collection: Task, Spend, and Cost Data Points

Based on the complexity of data and legal discovery, it is a continual challenge to understand the relationships, opportunities, and costs of specific eDiscovery tasks. With this challenge in mind and to provide information and context for discussions about the eDiscovery task of collection, the following updated collection-centric task, spend, and cost data points may be beneficial for legal, business, and IT professionals considering the economics of eDiscovery.

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Editor’s Note: Originally published in June of 2019, this update on eDiscovery collection task, spend and cost information contains new data points based on recent refreshes of industry market sizing research and eDiscovery service pricing surveys from ComplexDiscovery. This updated information may be beneficial for legal, business, and IT professionals considering the business of eDiscovery and specifically the economics of eDiscovery collection.

A 2020 Look at eDiscovery Collection: The Task

Within the context of data discovery and legal discovery, the task of collection consists of locating potential sources of electronically stored information (ESI) and gathering ESI for further use in the eDiscovery process. It is one of three tasks, that along with processing and review, make up the core tasks typically associated with the process of eDiscovery.

In considering the relative costs of the three core eDiscovery tasks of collection, processing, and review, in 2012, the task of collection represented approximately 8% of the total expenditure for eDiscovery tasks, with processing representing 19% of expenditures and review representing 73% of expenditures. (1) Based on market modeling since 2012, the current relative cost of the eDiscovery task of collection in 2020 has increased and is now estimated to be 13% of expenditures. Additionally, in 2020, the core eDiscovery task of processing is currently estimated to represent 19% of expenditures, and the core eDiscovery task of review is estimated to represent 68% of expenditures. (2)

Chart 1: Relative Task Expenditures for eDiscovery


Market Opportunity for Collection: The Spend

In evaluating the market spend for the eDiscovery task of collection through the lens of relative task expenditures and modeled market estimations, spending on collection-related software and services is estimated to constitute approximately 13% (1.65B) of worldwide eDiscovery software and services spending in 2020. The percentage of spending for the eDiscovery task of collection is estimated to increase to approximately 17% of overall eDiscovery spending by 2024, with that spend estimated to reach $3.51B in 2024. (3)

Chart 2: eDiscovery Market for Collection


Collection Pricing Data Points: The Cost

While many individual elements contribute to the cost of collection, results from the semi-annual eDiscovery Pricing Survey (4) may provide insight into three key costs and cost trends related to the eDiscovery task of collection. These costs include the per hour cost for a collection by a forensic examiner, the per device cost for a collection by a forensic examiner, and the per hour cost for analysis and expert witness services with support from a forensic examiner.

Responses from winter 2019summer 2019, and winter 2020 eDiscovery Pricing Surveys regarding these three collection-related cost questions posed to data and legal discovery professionals are provided below for your consideration.

Chart 3: What is the per hour cost for a collection by a forensic examiner?


Chart 4: What is the per device cost for a collection by a forensic examiner?


Chart 5: What is the per hour cost for analysis and expert witness support by a forensic examiner?



(1) Pace, N., & Zakaras, L. (2012). Where the Money Goes: Understanding Litigant Expenditures for Producing Electronic Discovery (p. xiv, xv). RAND Institute for Civil Justice.

(2) Robinson, R. (2019). eDiscovery Market Size Mashup: Worldwide Software and Services Overview – 2019-2024. Retrieved from https://complexdiscovery.com/an-ediscovery-market-size-mashup-2019-2024-worldwide-software-and-services-overview/

(3) Ibid.

(4) Robinson, R. (2019). The Power of Three? A Short Look at eDiscovery Pricing Over Time. Retrieved from https://complexdiscovery.com/the-power-of-three-a-short-look-at-ediscovery-pricing-over-time/

Additional Reading

Source: ComplexDiscovery

ComplexDiscovery combines original industry research with curated expert articles to create an informational resource that helps legal, business, and information technology professionals better understand the business and practice of data discovery and legal discovery.

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