Everything you wanted to know about eDiscovery, but were afraid to ask.
This chapter describes and defines electronic discovery, eDiscovery, or e-Discovery, for anyone involved in the processes of litigation or investigations. It should provide an introduction and overview of the basic concepts and terms you will need to begin any conversation around the practice of electronic discovery. Following chapters will dive into more nuanced and specific issues within the process of managing electronic evidence in litigation.
Here, we dive into the technological and legal requirements that must be navigated in the context of preserving information potentially relevant to litigation, investigations or other disputes, as well as the steps practitioners must take to ensure that data maintains its evidentiary integrity.
Information Governance pertains to any program or system designed to get your electronic house in order for the purposes of mitigating risk and cost, and making wiser business decisions. Information governance is not a litigation tactic, but a program that should be in place from the initial creation of ESI through its final disposition. While it sounds like a straightforward program, there are many complications that make it difficult to actually make an information governance plan work in the face of litigation.
Early case assessment (ECA) is the practice of estimating the risk to prosecute or defend a legal case. Organizations will often spend significant cost, time, and effort on a case only to find they need to settle the case unfavorably after the cost or exposure becomes too burdensome. Much of that cost is directly related to the eDiscovery process.
When you think about eDiscovery, you are probably thinking about review. Review is the phase of eDiscovery where your team will actually discover potentially relevant documents and evidence needed for a matter. A document review distinguishes relevant data from irrelevant data and uncovers information and evidence about the facts and issues of the matter. However, there are important pitfalls to address in review which, if not properly managed, can jeopardize your case, especially around protecting privileged material.
With the growing volumes of evidence and the expense of manual review, many legal teams are considering computer assisted review to help weed through digital records faster and with less human intervention. Predictive coding is the common name for this process which is emerging as an accepted practice in some extremely large cases.
The proliferation of PCs, laptops, smartphones, and even collaborative business tools like Slack have created exploding volumes of discoverable, electronic evidence. That growth in electronic documents threatens to break the discovery process. The only solution is to use equally disruptive technology to tame the challenges of modern discovery.
Document discovery isn’t limited to direct litigation or internal and employee investigations. Third-party subpoenas often require a similar approach as discovery during litigation. Such subpoenas allow parties in civil litigation to obtain evidence, including documents and testimony, from individuals or organizations who are not part of the lawsuit—that is, from third parties.