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3 Things to Know About the eDiscovery In-Out Pricing Model

3 Things to Know About the eDiscovery In-Out Pricing Model

When processing data sets over 300 GB, consider the eDiscovery In-Out Pricing Model.

The In-Out Pricing Model is an alternative to the typical flat-rate per-gigabyte pricing for eDiscovery processing. The cost of eDiscovery is a pain point for any law firm or corporation, and the pain becomes extra acute as data sources and sizes continue to expand.

Fortunately, even if you can’t always control the amount of data that must be preserved, collected and searched, there are options to help control the costs to process it all. One such option is the In-Out Pricing Model. Here are three things you should know about the In-Out Pricing Model, and data processing in general, to help determine whether this model might be a suitable option for your next big eDiscovery project.

Why is eDiscovery so expensive?

eDiscovery involves highly specialized tools, advanced technologies, complex workflows, and secure data storage platforms. The need for expertly trained professional personnel to make those pieces and processes perform optimally drives the average cost of eDiscovery even further. But the reality is that eDiscovery costs today have much more to do with the exponential growth in data volume than the underlying costs themselves

If you turn the eDiscovery clock back twenty years, most products and services cost five to ten times as much per unit compared to current costs. However, while unit prices have decreased as much as 90% or more in some areas of eDiscovery, the massive expansion in the amount of data still outpaces those pricing reductions, resulting in higher costs overall as data continues to grow.

As eDiscovery systems, workflows and technologies improved, the unit costs of eDiscovery and review hosting have significantly decreased. When you take into account the massive savings that Technology Assisted Review (TAR) brought to the world of document review, again the overall per-unit cost of eDiscovery continues to drop. It’s the soaring data sizes that drive eDiscovery costs up.

Paying separately for initial culling, independent from exporting, is the key to the eDiscovery In-Out Pricing Model.

Flat-rate unit pricing coupled with big data sets to process causes a huge spike in a case’s initial budget. But, if there’s reason to expect a significant reduction in the data set as a result of processing (de-duplication, culling, searching, filtering, advanced analytics and more), you might consider having a conversation with your favorite eDiscovery vendor. Ask if they offer a more economical pricing strategy for your client who seemingly never deleted anything and, as a result, now has hundreds of gigabytes to search.

The In-Out data processing model is designed to do exactly that—reduce costs by reducing the data set. In a nutshell, the In-Out model splits the processing costs into two pieces:

  1. The IN: After ingesting data for a low price, the first piece of eDiscovery processing typically focuses only on reducing the data through searching, date filtering and even data analytics where appropriate, among other potential culling efforts. 
  2. The OUT: After the initial culling, the remaining data gets fully processed, hashed, de-duplicated, and exported for loading to your document review platform.


On average, email data tends to expand by ~60%, so you should always confirm whether your vendor is billing you on the raw, compressed data set, or the expanded set. In the above example it could mean paying to process 500 GBs vs 800 GBs (500 x 1.6). After processing and related data reduction efforts during the processing phase, it’s common to see roughly a ~70% reduction prior to promoting the resultant set for attorney review.

Why is the eDiscovery In-Out Pricing Model less costly?

To show how this works, we’ll use the pricing examples found in Rob Robinson’s pricing study. His study shows that the most common cost for the “In” part of the data processing step is $25 – $75 per GB, while the most common rate for the “Out” part of the model is $100-$150.

Let’s assume you have 500GB of data and that you’ll reduce that data set by 70% through the initial culling. We’ll use the lower end of this study’s pricing ranges ($25/GB In and $100/GB Out).

Using those variables, here is how In-Out pricing would compare to the more traditional “fully-process-it-all” approach:

 In-Out ModelTraditional Model
Initial Ingestion/Culling (“In”)$25/GB x 500GB = $12,500N/A
Full Processing & Loading (“Out”)$100/GB x 150GB = $15,000$100/GB x 500GB = $50,000
Total Cost$27,500$50,000

As you can see, with the eDiscovery In-Out pricing model, you can cut data processing costs nearly in half. In our example, the In-Out Model processes 500 GBs for $27,500 which comes out to $55/GB, a 45% volume discount from the traditional flat-rate per-GB model. And the more you can filter during initial ingestion, the better that per-GB average will get.

Certainly, the savings in the example above depends on several variables, but also note that the amount of data you can cull during processing can impact the ‘Out’ quantity and the associated cost. Investing in a few hours of expert-level search and analytics assistance truly pays dividends, both early in the process and especially when the data hits the review tool where you can apply things like threading, conceptual searching and more. Experts in these systems will always get better results, as they can tweak searches to show you options, approaches and other enhancement suggestions that only their years of experience make possible. All of that can have a significant—and defensible—impact on your culling efforts.

Stop paying to process data you’ll never use.

BIA has been processing data since 2002. We were so particular about doing it the right way that we even built our own data processing system. Many of our clients choose the In-Out Pricing Model, but it’s not just because it saves them money. It also provides them with data sets to review that are more comprehensive and more focused on the relevant, responsive data needed for their cases. To learn more about the eDiscovery In-Out Pricing Model, or to see if it might fit the needs of your case, reach out to BIA today.