e-Discovery is a double-edged sword. There is an initial anticipation of using some new software and techniques to deal with the volume of data, but then reality sets in and you are buried in poorly processed and filtered data that you need to sort out for the legal team, usually under tight time constraints and in a charged atmosphere.
Most litigation support departments focus on the current problem – getting the database up and running, generating TIFF images, printing the documents the lawyer needs for discovery or trial, etc. They rarely have time to sit back and look at the problems from the 50,000-foot level. It’s akin to the whack-a-mole game we played as kids – tackle one problem and another one pops up right away.
e-Discovery is a process. Regardless of the particular issues in a matter or the type of information being dealt with, litigation support departments need to adopt a standard way of dealing with the material. We’ve all seen an increase in the volume of information associated with litigation matters. A single PST file will contain upwards of 100,000 records. The typical matter now involves collecting gigabytes of data. Whacking one lit support problem and then moving onto the next is not sustainable.
A better solution is to develop a set of practices that are easy to follow. Create templates for loading data into the lit support software, standardize fields and create a chart that maps metadata to those fields. Put together standard instructions that can be given to clients who collect their own data so that it arrives in a useful form. Work out procedures with vendors you rely on for data collection, processing and hosting to ensure they fit into your process, rather than trying to make your process fit into theirs.
e-Discovery does not have to be an outdated amusement park game. It can be so much more fun than that.