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CJA Cost Savings

Written by Daley Benson

Co-Owner

Behind the Gavel, LLC

Hold onto your hats, we’re going to do some math!

 We here at BTG are well-aware of how difficult it can be to get funding from courts that are suspicious of requests for seemingly “Cadillac” services for a defense.  It is an extraordinary, uphill battle that’s often intimidating, frustrating, and defeating.  We’re here to provide you with a little information to put in your back pocket the next time a court balks at the use of BTG or any other service-provider.  We are steadfast in our belief that we are not an expense.  We can and will save money and we will provide the best available products with the best possible service.

 

Let’s say a Grand Jury indicts 50 co-defendants in a massive federal drug conspiracy case.  The 6th amendment requires that all 50 of those defendants receive representation.  Let’s assume that all 50 of those defendants can’t afford an attorney, so they’re appointed a Criminal Justice Act Panel attorney.  Through our research, 70% of those attorneys are either solo practitioners or practice in a small firm (2-5 attorneys).  It is highly unlikely that they have the time, staff, or software/equipment to process and organize discovery in-house. 

 The case itself contains voluminous discovery.  There are multiple wiretaps, transcripts, tons of Facebook and Twitter data, phone downloads, toll records, surveillance video, pole-camera videos, and tens of thousands of pages of police reports and court pleadings.  It is overwhelming.  In order to perform their due-diligence, however, each attorney must somehow wade through all that stuff to find the most pertinent information for their client. 

 In our experience, attorneys do not receive neatly organized discovery from the government, and the government isn’t under any real obligation to produce it that way.  It is often distributed on multiple cd’s, dvd’s, blu-rays, external hard drives, in no particular form or fashion, and typically without any sort of index.  Suffice it to say, it takes a substantial amount of time to get everything in order to even begin a meaningful discovery review.  It may take several hours just to find a single document that a client is mentioned in!    

 Let’s assume that it will take each of those attorneys 100 hours to process and organize their discovery (keeping in mind that 70% are solo practitioners or work in a small firm and lack the staff to do it for them).  Let’s assume that the hourly rate for each of those attorneys is $135.00 per hour.  Each attorney, therefore, will require a budget of $13,500.00 for discovery processing and organization.  The total cost then, would be $675,000.00 for the entire case (50 attorneys x $13,500.00).

 If all of those attorneys instead hire paralegals to organize discovery, and those paralegals have an hourly rate of $45.00, the cost will be $4,500.00 per paralegal for a total of $225,000.00 (50 paralegals x $4,500.00) for the entire case.

 (here comes the math)

We have compiled three tables to outline the cost and cost savings for an entire case that utilizes BTG:

***These estimates are extremely conservative.  According to our survey results, we average over 300 hours saved per attorney per case

 

Attorney Rates:

 

Budgeted Attorney Hours

Cost (1 Attorney)

Total Cost (50 Attorneys)

Estimated Savings

100 (No BTG)

$13,500.00

$675,000.00

0

75 (BTG saves 25 hours)

$10,125.00

$506,250.00

$168,750.00

50 (BTG saves 50 hours)

$6,750.00

$337,500.00

$337,500.00

25 (BTG saves 75 hours)

$3,375.00

$168,750.00

$506,250.00

  

Paralegal Rates:

 

Budgeted Paralegal Hours

Cost (1 Paralegal)

Total Cost (50 Paralegals)

Estimated Savings

100 (No BTG)

$4,500.00

$225,500.00

0

75 (BTG saves 25 hours)

$3,375.00

$168,750.00

$56,750.00

50 (BTG saves 50 hours)

$2,250.00

$112,500.00

$112,500.00

25 (BTG saves 75 hours)

$1,125.00

$56,250.00

$168,250.00

  

Historically, for all of our work-products (Discovery Hub, Relational Chart, De Novo), our average cost is $2,100.00 per defendant (equaling approximately 16 attorney hours or 47 paralegal hours).  The more defendants on a case, the less that cost becomes.  In terms of total cost on cases with 10 or more defendants, our average total cost is $46,000.00 (our cases have ranged between a single defendant and up to 62 codefendants). 

 

Putting everything together:

 

Hours Saved

Case Savings Attorney

Case Savings Paralegal

Fixed BTG Cost Per Defendant

Average BTG Cost

Net Savings Attorney (per defendant)

Net Savings Paralegal (per defendant)

Net Savings Attorney (average)

Net Savings Paralegal (average)

0

0

0

$105,000.00

$46,000.00

-$105,00.00

-$105,00.00

-$46,000.00

-$46,000.00

25

$168,750.00

$56,750.00

$105,000.00

$46,000.00

$63,750.00

-48,250.00

$122,750.00

$10,750.00

50

$337,500.00

$112,500.00

$105,000.00

$46,000.00

$232,500.00

$7,500.00

$291,500.00

$66,500.00

75

$506,250.00

$168,250.00

$105,000.00

$46,000.00

$401,250.00

$63,250.00

$460,250.00

$122,250.00

As you can see, there are only two scenarios in which BTG doesn’t save any money:

1)      If the attorneys or paralegals don’t use our work-products, or

2)      Our work-products don’t save paralegals 25 hours of time

 Regarding the second scenario, we believe that we save 25 hours nearly automatically by centralizing the flow of discovery.  Attorneys, paralegals, and other staff do not need to copy multiple discs (we’ve had cases with over 100 separate discs in a single discovery disclosure) or download materials from government platforms.  Additionally, or work-products take care of all discovery issues that would ordinarily require special attention by a paralegal, an investigator, an IT person, or some other subcontractor (OCR, audio/video conversion, Wiretaps, social media data, phone data, etc.).  We do it all in-house and we do it all with CJA panel members in mind.

 From a logical, financial, mathematical, practical, and/or nearly any other perspective, BTG just makes sense for this case and cases like them.  Why do something 50 different ways when you can have us do it once, and better than it’s ever been done before

 Please call us, email us, or contact us through our website.  Our goal, very simply, is to help. 

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Our Company Story

We are Behind the Gavel and this is our story.  Behind the Gavel was started by Cary Christiansen and Daley Benson in February 2016.  The desire to start this company came from years of experience working on federal criminal cases where many attorneys lacked sufficient resources to manage and review complex, voluminous discovery.   Cary’s background includes positons at the Federal Defenders Office in Las Vegas, NV and Spokane, WA as a litigation support specialist/ACSA for over fifteen years.  Daley has worked as a contract paralegal and a litigation support specialist on many complex cases throughout the United States.  He has assisted attorneys through every stage of litigation via research, writing, analysis, organization, trial-preparation, and a number of other litigation-related tasks. Daley has also created a first-of-its-kind interactive charting technique that can be applied to multi or single defendant cases.

With Cary’s IT background and Daley’s experience with the litigation process, they knew they could create something better for attorneys who deal with complex discovery situations. 

Our approach is easy: “Keep it simple”.  We understand your workloads and time constraints and want to focus you on the review process rather than spending time learning complex software or using ineffectual methods.  In fact, while educating attorneys about our products, they are often surprised at the depth we go, while still making the product user friendly and effective. 

With the ability to save attorneys hundreds of hours on a case and get them to the pertinent material quicker and easier, BTG has become a valuable resource on CJA appointed cases across the U.S. 

Cary and Daley have built a team committed to due process, equality, and justice.  They have developed tools that are easy to learn, easy to use, and come with a team of support committed to your success.  In fact, a big part of our story is the culture here at BTG.  While we understand the seriousness of the work we do and treat every case, big or small, as if it is the most important work we will do, we also have learned to find time to let off steam and have some fun.  Our team values collaboration, whether that comes in the form of improving internal processes, or teaming up against Daley in a nerf war.  As a team, we celebrate accomplishments both professional and personal and our office is very unique because it is full of people who want to be here.  At BTG you will find we are passionate about the work we are doing, motivated to perform at a high level, and genuinely care for one another and the success of this company. 

Over the last 3 years, BTG has worked on dozens of Federal, State, civil and criminal cases.  Combined, those cases contained approximately 2,500,000 discovery pages.  We have helped legal teams all across the United States with massive conspiracy cases, gang cases, drug cases, firearms cases, human sex trafficking cases, RICO cases, Title III cases, fraud cases, and more.

Our team continues to grow, as does the scope of the work that we are able to complete.  We have no geographic boundaries and look forward to continuing to assist attorneys become more effective and efficient with our innovative tools and hard working, dedicated staff.    

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Going Beyond Adobe Keyword Search

How many times have you been told to just use Adobe keyword search to find your clients’ documents? Adobe keyword search is definitely a useful tool, but should not be the only tool when you are looking through thousands of documents with varying levels of clarity. In our experience, documents range from crystal clear to having been scanned so many times they are very difficult to read. Adobe keyword search is only as good as the document itself, which often times is not very good.

 

We have found that the Adobe keyword search can be a valuable place to start, but not an end product.  The Adobe keyword search will give you results and documents to start looking through so that you can at least begin sifting through all of the discovery in the case.  We prefer an “eyes on” approach for all documents, and here is why. 

 

Even clear documents can have issues with the keyword search. There have been many times a document seemed clear enough to use the search function, but naked to the human eye in the middle of the word there is an extra space thrown in, which means that Adobe cannot pick that word up. For example, let’s say your client’s last name is Smith, but somehow the OCR processes it as “Sm ith” so when you go to that document and type in “Smith” your clients name will not come up. Adobe sometimes even misplaces letters with numbers so Smith in the keyword search is being registered as “Sm1th”, which again would not come up when you search “Smith”. These issues could lead to multiple documents being missed that contain your clients name and could be vital to their representation.

 

Adobe also cannot pick up on handwriting so if there are any handwritten documents, they will not be included in the search results. We have received so many handwritten documents that can hardly be read by a person, so how can we expect a machine to be able to read them? Another thing Adobe cannot pickup is text in photos, so all of those search warrant photos that include house numbers and personal information of the occupants will not be included in any of the search results from Adobe.

 

We hope this gives you some good insight so that next time you hear “just use Adobe keyword search” you have a better understanding of what exactly that tool can provide and what it can’t. An “eyes on” approach will give you accurate search results for your clients’ name so that you know you have all of the documentation referencing them. Help us in giving every defendant and defense attorney access to all documentation pertaining to them and not just what shows up in a keyword search.

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How it works – hiring BTG on your case

Hello there!  We are so pleased that you are considering Behind the Gavel.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and unsure how you might get through those thousands of pages of discovery with the confidence to get to every necessary detail, we can help!

First, we recommend viewing a demonstration of our products, so that you understand the value we can add to your case.  We will schedule a demo at your convenience and encourage all interested attorneys to participate.    We will give you an in-depth look at how we organize discovery and the tools we offer. 

Once you have learned what we can provide for you, and you have decided BTG is a good fit for your case, there are a few simple steps to bring us on board.   

You may want to consult with your case budgeting attorney or CJA Administrator to see what sort of funding is available.  We are always happy to provide demonstrations and additional information to CBA’s and CJA Administrators who may not be familiar with our services. 

Next, we will complete a detailed estimate, which will include all of the work you can expect us to complete, a timeline, and the cost.  We will generate the estimate based on our consultations and discovery review.  Our bids are all-inclusive and, barring large, unforeseen discovery disclosures, cover our funding for the life of the case. We’re able to generate a bid within three days of receiving discovery. If discovery is unavailable, we can work with you to

put our best estimate forward.  

Finally, when you have the bid in hand, submit it to the court through a funding request or funding motion.  If needed, we can help you generate a funding motion.  If the judge approves we will begin immediately!

Ultimately, it is up to the defense attorneys on a case to decide what vendor, if any, they want to utilize. The more attorneys that support our services, the better. In our experience, the Courts are more open to funding a vendor if the majority of attorneys agree that one is necessary. We pride ourselves on our flexibility and we’re willing to work with you, your team, and the Court to make any changes and answer any questions throughout this entire process.

 

So there it is, a few simple steps to implement what will become invaluable and indispensable tools to represent your client at the highest level.   Still have questions, just ask!!