Please enjoy this blog posted on behalf of the author, Ravi Sharma, Consultant, Sky Discovery.
The eDiscovery industry is a fast-paced, dynamic area of legal technology. As a result, there are often a lot of concepts to navigate in a short space of time, particularly if you are from a non-legal background. Although understanding the lifecycle for an eDiscovery lifecycle (the EDRM) is a good starting point, I have listed 4 key concepts to be aware of for those with a technical background that are looking to take their first steps into the world of eDiscovery.
Collection of evidence: it is essential that any evidence is handled in legally and forensically defensible manner. Otherwise, it is possible for collected files to have their metadata contaminated, and this could have a significant impact in both searching and disclosure of documents. Write-blocking software should be used along with other forensic tools to ensure that the data is collected in a defensible way. Once this process is complete, it must be validated, and this is often done by comparing the “digital fingerprints” (known as hash values) between the collected and source data.
Families: in the context of electronic disclosure, a family is the collective name for a group of email and its attachments. Although this idea is simple in principle, it appears at almost every stage of an eDiscovery project. For example, data that is processed into a review platform is often deduplicated at a family level (i.e., the entire family must be a duplicate of another family for it to be a duplicate). It is also common to batch out complete families for review and disclose full families together, so it is always important to consider these family relationships at every phase of a project lifecycle.
Production of documents: documents that are reviewed and are considered relevant need to be exported from the review platform as electronic files that can be disclosed to a requesting party in a legal matter. While this may appear to be a simple exercise, this is often the most important part of any eDiscovery project as they are a number of associated risks when producing these documents. The greatest of these is the inadvertent production of privileged content, which can occur when disclosing full families (a parent email being produced with its privileged attachments). Care must be taken when planning the specifications of production to mitigate these risks.
Auditing: one of the most important components of any eDiscovery project is keeping an auditable record of all the workflows and processes that have taken place. This helps to keep a log of each data source collected and whether it’s been processed, reviewed or disclosed at all stages. It is also helpful for internal coverage so that you can enjoy your holidays! As part of this auditing process, we strongly recommend against deleting any data that is collected or processed for review. Any data that may be irrelevant for the matter should instead be secured away so that legal teams do not have permission to access it. As a result, data that’s collected and processed can always be accessed by an administrator if it does become relevant to the case at a later point in time.
Beginning your career in eDiscovery can be a very enriching experience, and for those with a technical background it is the perfect environment to learn about emerging data sources, demonstrate your problem-solving abilities, and master a wide range of workflows. Although there is plenty the learn, these 4 key concepts along will make your first steps that much more easier, and shall help you go a long way in this industry!