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Socha-Gelbmann to kill their rankings

Our thanks Isaac Cooper of for drawing our attention to this statement that was published earlier today on the LitSupport-Announce group on Yahoo! – – from George Socha and Tom Gelbmann…

The Socha-Gelbmann Electronic Discovery Survey: Time for a Change

The time has come for us, the creators of the Socha-Gelbmann Electronic
Discovery Survey provider rankings, to kill our rankings. We intend to
replace those rankings with an improved way to assess providers and their

Why are we killing the rankings? We believe that our survey rankings have
reached the point where they no longer serve their original purpose. When
they are announced, we are told, they can affect the share prices of
publically held companies. They can have an impact on the ability of
providers to obtain financing. They can be a key factor, sometimes the most
important factor, in determining which provider is selected to take on a
project or deliver a software program.

No set of generalized rankings should have this type of influence. Not ours.
Not anyone's.

A Bit of History…

When we issued our first set of rankings six years ago, we felt they helped
guide consumers entering an inchoate market. We offered the rankings as
indicators of which providers appeared to be rising to the top. In the first
year, as some may recall, we published a single set of rankings – a list of
the top five electronic discovery providers.

Over time, we expanded the scope of the rankings. With the third survey, we
extended the overall rankings from the top five to the top 20, divided into
groupings of 1-5, 6-10 and 11-20.

The following year, we expanded the rankings even more. We drew distinctions
between services and software providers. We offered service provider
rankings based on assessments of their experience, their capacity, and the
views of law firms and the corporations from whom we gathered data. We added
software provider rankings based on law firm and corporate responses as
well. We also added rankings for services and software providers by the
Electronic Discovery Research Model stage.

This year we added a set of software provider rankings that looked at the
usage of those providers' software.

We always have sought to portray the service and software providers as
objectively and as fairly as possible. This year, for example, we examined
more than 350 separate categories of information. For each category, we
gathered together all that data we had on that topic. We quantified the
data, converting it from text to numbers where necessary. We developed
something akin to a distribution curve and from that prepared a rating

We recognize that perfection is never achievable, which is why we have
always presented the rankings with a cautionary warning. Last year, we
cautioned that consumers “should not choose a provider based solely on these
lists, or solely on the basis of any other top-X list.” This year, we
stressed that “anyone who makes buying decisions primarily on these rankings
is a fool.”

Time for a Change…

As noted above, we are told that the rankings have become so influential
that now they affect share prices and the ability to get funding. We are
hearing, as well, that consumers are using them as a substitute for the work
they should be doing themselves – analyzing consumer needs and assessing
what and whose services and software might meet those needs.

As we stated above, this is wrong. So much for the effectiveness of

Where Do We Go From Here?

For the next round of our survey, we intend to discontinue the rankings in
their current form. We hope to replace them with a system that will more
effectively allow potential consumers of electronic discovery services and
software match up what they perceive to be their needs with what the
providers have to offer.

As we have done with previous surveys, we will work on improving our survey
to deliver the most value to our subscribers. We will retool how we present
providers and their capabilities. We will continue to publish a high level
view of key industry trends, market size and provider and their capabilities.

We welcome your suggestions – let us know what would be more useful than the
rankings. You can send your thoughts to us at


George and Tom