Electronic Data Discovery Workflow and Best Practices

Over the past twenty four (24) months I have had the opportunity to meet with law firms, the litigation and IT departments of the Fortune 2000, regional litigation service providers, eDiscovery consultants and eDiscovery technology vendors to discuss the current state and technologies of eDiscovery.  Based upon these discussions, I have come to the conclusion that there are substantial differences in approach and a complete lack of standards in Electronic Data Discovery (EDD) workflow and best practices throughout the entire industry.

EDRMEven after the tremendous body of  EDD research and information being proliferated by the Sedona Conference Institute and the other various groups associated with the Sedona Conference along with the excellent EDD guidelines and standards established by the Electronic Discovery Reference Model, there is still a wide chasm between what these experts have established as the EDD standards and how the main stream litigation market processes EDD.

As such, I am planning to spend the next two (2) – three (3) weeks soliciting detailed input on “real world” EDD workflow and best practices from all available sources and then publish the results.  Please note that this exercise is not intended to replace any of the work done by either the EDRM or the Sedona Conference.    However, I believe that we could lay the foundation for creating a mainstream guide to EDD.

As a place to start, I would like to offer the following questions for discussion:

  1. What tools are being used at each step of the EDRM model if any?
  2. Are these tools integrated or do you have to move data in between them?
  3. If you have to move data, is anyone really using the new EDRM XML standard?
  4. How many IT organizations have instituted data retention policies with litigation in mind?
  5. How many IT organizations are using technologies like Kazeon or Autonomy for for in-place collection, processing and analysis, in an integrated workflow within a single application?
  6. Are the tools as mention in # 5 able to collect all of the data?  And, if not, how the remainder of the data being collected and integrated?
  7. How does litigation hold technology  from vendors such as Exterro fit into the process? And, are they tightly integrated or loosely coupled requiring manual management?
  8. Where do early case assessment technologies from vendors such as Clearwell Systems fit into the process?
  9. Is the market finding that the tools as listed in # 8 are sufficient for “flattening” all of the embedded files from the Electronically Stored Information (ESI) or are they only used to gather and produce a general file extension catalogue?
  10. Is the market using tools like Clearwell for early case assessment and then importing the data into standard EDD processing tools like LAW and iPro for production processing?
  11. Given the answer to # 9, is the market concerned that “smoking gun” ESI is not being discovered?
  12. Given the answers to # 9 – # 11, how are these tools being used in conjunction with  requirements and preparation for the 26(f) conferences?
  13. When is culling and de-dupe taking place and what technologies are being used?
  14. Are the keywords for culling and filtering being externally determined by the legal teams or in some way being internally generated by technology?
  15. Where do conceptual search technologies such as Orcatec and leading de-dupe technologies such as Equivio  fit into this process?
  16. What percentage of ESI is the culling and de-duping process removing from the data pool?
  17. How is the market completing the various review processes and what tools are they using?
  18. Is the market doing early case assessment with native files, loading the results into a review tool, completing an initial “quick peek” of the data to develop keywords and then loading the data back into an EDD processing solution for another culling and de-dupe pass?  Or, is this all happening in a single pass?
  19. Is the market concerned that opposing parties are not processing data effectively enough produce adequate responses?
  20. Is the market actually using the 26(f) conference to define how opposing parties are going to produce responsive data?
  21. How is the market handling privileged ESI during this process?  What is the actual privileged information is only part of an ESI data set?
  22. Is the market still imaging ESI into TIFF and PDF for Review and final production?
  23. How do bates numbers fit into this process?
  24. How is the market integrating paper data into this process?
  25. How is the market handling complex coding?
  26. Is the market still using in house legacy client/server solutions for the most part to complete the various pieces of the EDD process?
  27. What does the market think about the new generation of SaaS based EDD solutions?
  28. Are there any single source end-to-end solutions?
  29. Are there any integrated end-to-end solutions?
  30. Is the market concerned with chain of custody issues?
  31. Have the courts ruled in any definitive way on any accepted way of processing EDD?
  32. Has the cost of eDiscovery gone down or gone up over the past six (6) months?  And, if it has gone down, why?
  33. Do corporate IT departments want control over the EDD process?  And, is that the right place for it to reside?

Answering these questions and the ones that these questions will prompt is certainly not going to fill in the chasm between the current best practices and standards as put forth by the experts and the rest of us mere mortals in the litigation market.  However, it might begin to provide the market with some real world examples of what works and what doesn’t work.
I encourage everyone who has input to any one of these questions to respond.  And then , stay tuned for an update in a couple of weeks.

About Charles Skamser
Charles Skamser is an internationally recognized technology sales, marketing and product management leader with over 25 years of experience in Information Governance, eDiscovery, Machine Learning, Computer Assisted Analytics, Cloud Computing, Big Data Analytics, IT Automation and ITOA. Charles is the founder and Senior Analyst for eDiscovery Solutions Group, a global provider of information management consulting, market intelligence and advisory services specializing in information governance, eDiscovery, Big Data analytics and cloud computing solutions. Previously, Charles served in various executive roles with disruptive technology start ups and well known industry technology providers. Charles is a prolific author and a regular speaker on the technology that the Global 2000 require to manage the accelerating increase in Electronically Stored Information (ESI). Charles holds a BA in Political Science and Economics from Macalester College.