Learn About E-Discovery: PROCESSING

This picture has to be my absolute favorite illustration to kick off a discussion (or lesson) on the processing or conversion of electronically stored information for the discovery phase of litigation.

(Please note: I have nothing against bunnies… well, except for the ones that ate all of the broccoli and spinach in my garden last fall.) This graphic shows us how the corporate clients will provide ESI in it’s native format only for the law firm to flatten it into a TIFF or PDF image format. The original blog post that addresses the case of the flattened bunny can be found here and is well worth the time to read. Four years ago the debate over producing documents as TIFF images vs. their native format was in full swing.  The “dead bunny” case was discussed further in this video.  While the video and blog post reference a case from 2009, it is still a relevant topic today as many case teams are still unclear about the PROCESSING phase in e-discovery. I think it is important to note that we can not make processing decisions in a vacuum.  The project plan for processing can not be finalized without the final plan for production format(s). This is why it is considered a best practice to identify and agree upon production formats at the beginning of the case.  For example, if the parties agree to producing native files, then there is no reason to spend money converting files to TIFF images for the review. Also, if you are looking for creative ways to save money, your case team will want to address both processing options and the resulting production format options at the same time.

Let’s take a look at a few current resources to learn about ESI PROCESSING today:

ESI Processing does not have to be a mystery

The general objectives of processing include identifying exactly what elements or items of ESI have been submitted for processing, including their associated metadata. This allows intelligent and informed decisions to be made that can reduce the volume of data selected for continuation along the path to review. At the same time, the application of processing technology and analysis to the data needs to be performed under strict standards of quality control and to bear in mind chain of custody requirements. (read more of this article here)

The EDRM (Electronic Discovery Reference Model) – Processing Phase

My blog post on understanding technology used for Processing ESI

The technology available to converting ESI to a “reviewable” format is pretty straight forward… data in/ data out. However, you’ll notice in the sample product demo that there are a lot of options so ask lots of questions to be sure that you understand the output from the system.  How will it help your document review? Will the output from the processing system allow you to meet the agreed upon production requirements?

 

Learn About E-Discovery is now offering weekly webinars. This week’s topic: Introduction to E-Discovery Project Management.

 

Learn About E-Discovery Project Management!

Live for 90 minutes on December 5th!

Register TODAY to join me online for a live training session

E-Discovery Project Management For Paralegals

Wednesday, December 05, 2012 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM (Eastern Time)

Save $20 using the discount code: erika20off

Are you actively looking for a way to advance your e-discovery career?

Are you seeking new skills or need to polish your area of expertise?

This course is for you!

Topics covered include:

•Project Management Methodologies: Which will work for your next e-discovery project?

•Role of a Project Manager

•What does it take to transition from senior paralegal to e-discovery project manager?

•What Should Be in Your Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

•Outline of Best Practices for Each Phase of Your SOP

•EDPM Responsibility Matrix, Planning Resources and Budgeting

•The 4 STAGES OF EDPM that every paralegal needs to know

•Managing virtual project teams

And I will also address the new attorney-centric EDBP in our discussion!

Don’t delay. Spaces are filling quickly! Join me live and online in an engaging environment open to asking questions and participating in the conversation. If you have a friend who is a litigation paralegal interested in making the transition to e-discovery project management, this session will provide a rare opportunity to learn e-discovery project management skills from an expert in the field of litigation support (if I may so humbly say so myself).

Introduction to E-Discovery: Technology (Part 5 of 5)

It’s pretty easy to execute a Google search on “e-discovery” and immediately become overwhelmed by the amazing volume of information available. Where should you begin reading? What’s fluff? What’s not? What’s educational? What’s marketing jargon? Over the next few weeks, we’re going to dedicate MONDAY mornings to reading about electronic discovery basics. Each week, look for a new post to learn about e-discovery without becoming overwhelmed.This  week, we continue our series on technology used to support e-discovery with a few resources for you to learn more about ESI Production.  This will be our last entry in this series… since statistics show that only about 1% of cases ever make it all the way to trial, most of us will end our e-discovery technology journey at the production phase.

ESI Production

Definition

Discussion

Software (not an endorsement)

I hope you learned something new about e-discovery technology or reinforced your on-the-job training with the five short lessons provided here over the past few weeks. If you have questions or if you are interested in a custom learning plan, please send an e-mail to erika at learnaboutediscovery.com.

Introduction to E-Discovery: Technology (Part 4 of 5)

It’s pretty easy to execute a Google search on “e-discovery” and immediately become overwhelmed by the amazing volume of information available. Where should you begin reading? What’s fluff? What’s not? What’s educational? What’s marketing jargon? Over the next few weeks, we’re going to dedicate MONDAY mornings to reading about electronic discovery basics. Each week, look for a new post to learn about e-discovery without becoming overwhelmed.This  week, we continue our series on technology used to support e-discovery with a few resources for you to learn more about ESI Review & Analysis.

REVIEW

Definition

A good working definition for document review is a task completed by attorneys to determine which documents (electronic or paper) are going to be useful as the litigation matter moves forward.

EDRM definition

You may be tasked with managing a team of reviews… if that is the case, then read this, too.

Software

Most of the litigation technology software over the past 25 – 30 years has been developed to support this phase of litigation. It is not unique to e-discovery but electronically stored information was the catalyst for major new developments in litigation technology over the past decade or more. Here are a couple of the most recent examples and two of the traditional tools in today’s marketplace (this is not an endorsement of any tool…)

Traditional Option # 1 and Option# 2

Newbie #1 and Newbie #2

Discussion

The majority of the litigation budget is typically spent on the attorney review. This article discusses some of the ways to cut time and cost using technology.

ANALYSIS

Analysis can be a difficult term to define in our world as much of the technology has driven the definition in recent years. However, simply put, “analysis” is what the attorneys do when they review. In an effort to save time and trim costs, technology has developed to assess and analyze litigation data early in the case as well as later. The technology does NOT replace the attorney review. The courts are still inconsistent on whether or not to require the technology but seem to be leaning towards requiring it… And I always say: The tools are not as important as the process. Do not bet your whole case on the technology available. My two cents. That said, here’s some useful information about ESI Analysis (again, not an endorsement):

Definition

Software 

I hope this overview of ESI Review and Analysis has been helpful to you as you continue to explore and learn more about e-discovery!

If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at erika at learnaboutediscovery.com

Learning About Data Maps

Most data maps or content maps or “who-knows-where-the-data-is” diagrams are anywhere from 9 to 18 months out of date.  Any IT network manager will tell you that creating a diagram of everything on the company network is not a fun or easy activity. Add to that the litigator’s need to know who has/had access to potentially discoverable information and the size of the task more than doubles. Today, we fortunately have tools that help automate parts or all of this but how effective those tools are depends on a lot of variables. Our interest now is to provide a few resources and definitions to help you begin conversations with your e-discovery team about data mapping.

E-Discovery attorneys, project managers and paralegals will want to become familiar with their client’s data map as early as possible in a litigation matter.  If you’re the e-discovery liaison for a corporation, you will be want to be very familiar with your organization’s network data map.  According to the Electronic Discovery Reference Model, here’s what you need to know about data maps:

You can’t secure it if you can’t find it. An essential component to a successful electronic discovery project is an accurate picture of the target company’s data sources. It is important to keep in mind that all company information technology infrastructures are not created equal. The hardware and software deployed to accomplish commonplace tasks such as managing company e-mail or creating data backups, varies widely from organization to organization. Indeed, it likely varies within the target company if the timeframe in question is broad enough, or if the company is widely distributed in various geographic locations.

This identification process implicates many types of servers with active and dynamic data (e.g. file servers, collaboration servers, e-mail servers) and many interrelated data management systems (e.g. document management systems, financial systems, disaster recovery and backup systems). This includes servers responsible for general company data, as well as user specific data, such as user home directories or departmental shared directories. It also includes the myriad of devices that users employ to utilize that data, including desktop computers, photocopiers, calendars, Instant Messaging (IM), text, PDA’s and cell phones, smart phones, and memory cards. Lastly, it implicates inactive data archives on various media such as hard drives, servers, recycle bins, tape backups, flash drives, CD-ROMs and DVDs. All of this is further complicated by the fact that legacy data, potentially across all these categories, may exist from previous company systems within the relevant time period. The necessary hardware, software or technical expertise to access such legacy data may no longer exist within the target company.

Additionally, I would add the following resources for learning about e-discovery data maps to your reading:

ESI Data Mapping Resources

Best Practices

And if you are an information governance or records management professional, then you may find this resource helpful, too:

Five Free Apps for Diagramming Your Network

Introduction to E-Discovery: Technology (Part 2 of 5)

We are learning about ESI Preservation and Collection for week two of our series on e-discovery technology. This is technology used in support of electronic discovery projects. Following the phases or stages laid out in the EDRM (Electronic Discovery Reference Model found at www.edrm.net) we will take a look at the technology used for each phase (these are not endorsements, simply examples):

Preservation

Preservation is a topic of great importance but exactly how important it is is often realized too late in the discovery process. Today’s e-discovery lesson provides a few articles that not only define preservation in an e-discovery context but also include ideas and recommendations for preparing to preserve data. Technology and software applications designed to meet this need in the marketplace come from both the left and the right of the EDRM as corporations try to plan ahead with improved information governance policies and law firms work to advise clients in the early planning stages of litigation.

Definition Preservation Obligations, ABA article

Software – Download a free copy of the Gartner Industry Report on e-discovery software here .

Collection

The collection and harvesting of electronically stored information is also, often a not-well-thought-out part of the discovery plan. The question of how “forensically defensible” the collection needs to be is the starting place for developing your collection plan. Start here with a few basics about collection and collection technology…

Definition – EDRM Guide

Software EDJ Tech Matrix, Law.com article

 

Next week, we will share a few foundational resources for processing ESI.

Introduction to E-Discovery: Technology (Part 1 of 5)

Last week, we introduced electronic discovery with a few resources to begin your educational journey. This week, we will begin a 5-week series on e-discovery technology. This is technology used in support of electronic discovery projects.  Following the phases or stages laid out in the EDRM (Electronic Discovery Reference Model found at www.edrm.net) we will take a look at the  technology used for each phase (these are not endorsements, simply examples):

Information Governance

Traditional information technology and records management professionals have the responsibility of making sure that the business information is stored for real-time access and general business use/needs, preserved to meet government regulations and preserved in the event of a disaster.  Thanks to e-discovery, they must also concern themselves with data and information that may potentially be discoverable in litigation. The challenge for those with IT and records management responsibility is how to effectively determine what should be saved and not blow the budget doing it.

Definition
Software

 

Identification / ECA

Traditional early case assessment does not specifically require technology. However, over the last decade, attorneys and case teams have successfully used search & retrieval tools to make informed strategic decisions about how to move a matter forward or towards settlement.

Definition & Software

 

Next week, we will cover the preservation and collection phases of the EDRM.  Remember, the tools are not as important as the process. Our next lesson series will cover e-discovery project management best practices in our weekly lesson.  Learn something new everyday as you take control of your career and educational journey.

Introduction to E-Discovery

It’s pretty easy to execute a Google search on “e-discovery” and immediately become overwhelmed by the amazing volume of information available. Where should you begin reading? What’s fluff? What’s not? What’s educational? What’s marketing jargon? Over the next few weeks, we’re going to dedicate Monday mornings to reading about electronic discovery basics. Each week, look for a new post to learn about e-discovery without becoming overwhelmed.

Let’s begin:

Start with this 2008 article from FindLaw.com

Download this PDF for a collection of articles written by US Government attorneys

The industry “standard” workflows and protocols are all generally based off of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model found at www.edrm.net

 

Learning about electronic discovery always begins with covering the basics. Build a strong foundation of knowledge to support what comes next in your learning journey.

Electronic Discovery Metrics: Why Metrics Matter

One of the driving forces behind the e-discovery project management movement in our industry today, is metrics. Capturing statististical information about how much the project cost, how long it took to complete and whether or not the process worked provides us with the information we need to contain rising e-discovery costs. Today, you will learn about managing metrics for electronic discovery projects.

I saw this quote in a recent blog post / article about why metrics matter in e-discovery:

“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing.”
– W. Edwards Deming, an American statistician, professor, author, lecturer and consultant.

Here’s a good start to learning everything you need to know about METRICS for e-discovery project management:

 

Do you have questions?

How are you currently managing & capturing metrics for your e-discovery projects?

What kind of information are you tracking?  How is it helping?

 

 

The New Normal – Why you should learn about e-discovery

Why do you need to learn more about e-discovery? Your workplace or your client’s workplace is changing. Or has changed. E-discovery project management is the new normal. In fact, e-discovery has been around longer than you think…

Here’s why you should take the time to learn more about e-discovery (adapted from a recent article on integrating e-discovery into normal operations):

  1. Electronic Discovery can be complicated and has created the need to streamline the process and standardize workflow management for defensibility.
  2. Electronic Discovery exposes organizations to a greater risk when repeatable processes are not implemented. According to most industry think tanks, including The Sedona Conference, the best way to reduce risk in e-discovery is through implementing basic project management processes and methodologies.
  3. Between 1995 – 2000, most businesses made the transition from paper to digital in all communications and record-keeping. In 1970, the FRCP included digital documents in their definition of what was discoverable. In 2006, the FRCP revised their rules to specifically reference ESI (electronically stored information), to include documents that were stored, created and used in an electronic or digital format. To be clear, not a lot of businesses managed their information digitally until the late 1990s so the great unmanageable volume explosion that sparked the broader industry interest in e-discovery didn’t show up in litigation matters until a few years later. However, in larger litigation matters, the problem existed by the late 1990s as described in a 1999 article by Ken Withers. The December 2006 FRCP update simply updated the “wording” of the rule that had been in place since 1970 regarding the definition of a document. So I guess, our new normal is really our old normal?
  4. The data explosion is a problem for those who are/were not managing their data well. The downturn in the economy only exacerbated this issue as the unruly data stores found themselves a part of duty to preserve order and discoverable in litigation. Corporate legal department budgets are under increased scrutiny and now are required to follow the same project management methods other business units have followed for years to manage expenses and deliverables. How do we reign in the cost to move discoverable electronically stored information through the discovery machine? Two words: project management.

E-Discovery does not have to be complicated. Learning about e-discovery does not have to be complicated. It simply requires some time and thought on the front end to draw a map that clearly states what needs to be done, when and by whom. Then do it. And keep track of what is being done so that the next time, you are not reinventing the wheel.  Creating and developing a standard operational process for your organization will involve learning about each phase of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) so that you know what needs to be done at a minimum and in the “big picture” sense for each phase.  It’s next to impossible to effectively participate in a conversation about which approach your organization should take in developing or following a standard if you really do not have a clear understanding of e-discovery basics.  It’s both case law and technology. You should learn about e-discovery because the “new normal” in today’s litigation practice requires you to project manage discovery in a way that reduces risk, is defensible and allows your team of great legal minds to focus on strategy and the merits of the case.