A 2020 Look at eDiscovery Processing: 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 processing, the following updated processing-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 processing 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 processing.

A 2020 Look at eDiscovery Processing: The Task

Within the context of data discovery and legal discovery, the task of processing consists of reducing the volume of collected electronically stored information (ESI) primarily through automated processing techniques and modifying it, if necessary, to forms more suitable for other eDiscovery tasks including review and analysis. It is one of three tasks, that along with collection 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, processing represented approximately 19% of the total expenditure for eDiscovery tasks, with collection representing 8% of expenditures and review representing 73% of expenditures. (1) Based on market modeling since 2012, the current relative cost of the eDiscovery task of processing remains the same and is estimated to be 19% of expenditures in 2020. In 2020, the core eDiscovery task of collection is currently estimated to represent 13% 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 Processing: The Spend

In evaluating the market spend for the eDiscovery task of processing through the lens of relative task expenditures and modeled market estimations, spending on processing-related software and services is estimated to constitute approximately 19% ($2.40B) of worldwide eDiscovery software and services spending in 2020. The percentage of spending for the eDiscovery task of processing is estimated to slowly increase to approximately 20% of overall eDiscovery spending by 2024, with that spend estimated to reach $4.12B in 2024. (3)

Chart 2: eDiscovery Market for Processing


Processing Pricing Data Points: The Cost

While many individual elements contribute to the cost of processing, results from the semi-annual eDiscovery Pricing Survey (4) may provide insight into six key costs and cost trends related to the eDiscovery task of processing. These costs include the per GB cost to process ESI based on volume at ingestion, the per GB cost to process ESI based on volume at completion of processing, the per GB per month cost to host ESI without analytics, the per GB per month cost to host ESI with analytics, the user license fee per month for access to hosted data, and the per hour cost of project management support for eDiscovery.

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

Chart 3: What is the per GB cost to process electronically stored information based on volume at ingestion?


Chart 4: What is the per GB cost to process electronically stored information based on volume at completion of processing?


Chart 5: What is the per GB per month cost to host electronically stored information without analytics?


Chart 6:  What is the per GB per month cost to host electronically stored information with analytics?


Chart 7: What is the user license fee per month for access to hosted data?


Chart 8: What is the per hour cost of project management support for eDiscovery?



(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

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ComplexDiscovery is an online publication that highlights data and legal discovery insight and intelligence ranging from original research to aggregated news for use by business, information technology, and legal professionals. The highly targeted publication seeks to increase the collective understanding of readers regarding data and legal discovery information and issues and to provide an objective resource for considering trends, technologies, and services related to electronically stored information.

ComplexDiscovery OÜ is a technology marketing firm providing strategic planning and tactical execution expertise in support of data and legal discovery organizations. Registered as a private limited company in the European Union country of Estonia, one of the most digitally advanced countries in the world, ComplexDiscovery OÜ operates virtually worldwide to deliver marketing consulting and services.

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