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:
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 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.