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

The Spring 2020 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey

This is the eighteenth time the quarterly eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey has been conducted by ComplexDiscovery. It is also the first time the survey has been conducted in a time of worldwide crisis. The current global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is altering life as we know it. It is also altering the business environment of everyone in the eDiscovery ecosystem.

As your schedule permits, I would like to kindly ask you to consider sharing your current confidence in the business of eDiscovery by taking the Spring 2020 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey.

Access the Survey Directly from Google Forms

This spring survey will provide important insight into the business confidence of executive leaders, operational managers, and tactical execution professionals as we collectively seek to understand the impact of the current global COVID-19 pandemic on the business of eDiscovery.

The survey consists of only 12 multiple choice questions and can be completed in a matter of minutes.

Your opinion is important in helping form a complete picture of the business confidence of those operating in the realm of eDiscovery and your responses to this survey are fully anonymized, with no individual or organizational contact data, demographics, or answers being shared. And upon closing of the survey, I will send you a direct link to the published results.

Thank you for your consideration, be well, and be safe.

Rob Robinson/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.

All contributions are invested to support the development and distribution of ComplexDiscovery content. Contributors can make as many article contributions as they like, but will not be asked to register and pay until their contribution reaches $5.