"But I think it's going to be made by businesses, not law firms," Losey said.
That doesn't mean law firms will be completely sidelined.
While pricing on the e-discovery side is going down, it is more than compensated for through volume, Losey said. And less than 5 percent of lawyers in the United States are doing e-discovery work, he said. It's already an estimated $5 billion industry, and Losey said he thinks it will grow to $25 billion in 10 years.
Law firms will make double the amount of money then, he said.
E-discovery consultant David Cowen of The Cowen Group said e-discovery will be a money-maker for some firms and others will stay out of it. Some firms view it as a service center and others as a profit center. And just because firms outsource e-discovery services doesn't mean the practice isn't a profit center for them, Cowen said.
"Very often that's the beginning of truly understanding where the profit is," he said. "You might not want to own analysts, hosting and software so you can focus on high-margin litigation support e-discovery legal work."
E-discovery partners and associates and case managers within law firms are typically seen as the high-margin piece of the pie, Cowen said.
How or whether to squeeze profit out of the rest of the e-discovery spectrum is the question nagging in the back of the minds of firm leaders.
This article originally appeared in The Legal Intelligencer.