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Do You Charge Your Clients for Page Numbers? (Your E-discovery Vendor Might)

Image of Bates Automatic Numbering Machine


Of course you do not charge clients for including page numbers in their documents. If you tried, they would not tolerate it.


So stop paying for this type of !@#$ in E-Discovery.


What are we talking about? In another great piece of Woodward/Bernsteinesque journalism, Logikcull’s Robert Hilson looked deeper into reports that State of New Jersey paid a $2.3 million e-discovery bill relating to the infamous Washington Bridge scandal. Among various charges included in the bill were a penny a page charge for “bates stamping” 358,145 pages of documents produced in response to subpoenas for a grand total of $3,581.45.


While there are other (more expensive) charges in the bill that would support additional funtime articles (such as entries for meals and the ever present “processing” charges), we zero on the “bates stamping” charges because they are very easy to explain to those unfamiliar with the “black box” inner-workings of e-discovery services.


So, what is “Bates” stamping anyway?


The term derives from the Bates Automatic Numbering Machine (pictured above) and named after the late 19th century inventor Edwin G. Bates. It is a manual way of placing page numbers and other identifying text on documents. Among other uses, this type of page numbering is utilized during the discovery phase of litigation to identify documents produced by one party or the other. So in a fictional case of Smith v. Jones, if Smith produced 100 pages of documents, the documents would be marked Smith001 through Smith100.


As time marched on, printing, like the rest of the world, became more sophisticated and moved to software. As a result, manual page numbering is generally unnecessary these days.


Which brings us to our point: including custom page numbers (or “bates stamping”) document productions downloaded from e-discovery software is generally as easy as going into your word-processing page format menu, choosing “page numbering” and selecting “yes.” So, unless your e-discovery vendor is hand-stamping your documents with that cool device pictured above, stop paying for it.


In fact, if you no longer want to pay for this stuff, please call us. One of the reasons we got into this business is because we were tired of paying these types of goofy charges and knew there is a better way of doing things.


Posted on March 7, 2016 in Costs and Cost Shifting, E-Discovery, ESI Production

About the Author

Chad Main is an attorney and the founder of Percipient. Prior to founding Percipient, Chad worked as a litigator in Los Angeles and Chicago. He is a member of the Seventh Circuit Electronic Discovery Pilot Program Committee and may be reached at cmain@percipient.co.