I always enjoy the writings of our friend Rob Robinson from Orange Legal Technologies. He recently posted an excellent guide to selecting e-discovery providers which he accurately describes as a "daunting" task.
Actually, you have only to read the post to see just how complicated it is. Rob breaks it down into bullet points focusing on the competencies, attributes and distribution frameworks of providers. By doing so, you can compose the questions you may want to ask of a potential vendor.
At the end of the day, e-discovery providers are trying to sell you on their services. My advice is always to be skeptical. As an example, if you ask an e-discovery provider today whether they provide predictive coding services, almost all of them will say yes. But it ain't necessarily so. Especially since there is no universally accepted definition of predictive coding.
Do ask questions - lots of them. But I believe that nothing beats a referral from a colleague who can attest to a provider's professional skills, responsiveness, integrity and ability perform on time and within budget!
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