Collection

eDiscovery Case Law: Pension Committee

This holiday week, we’re taking a look back at some of the cases which have had the most significance (from an eDiscovery standpoint) of the year.  The first case we will look at is The Pension Committee of the Montreal Pension Plan v. Banc of America Securities, LLC, 29010 U.S. Dist. Lexis 4546 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 15, 2010) (as amended May 28, 2010), commonly referred to as “Pension Committee”.

In “Pension Committee”, New York District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin defined negligence, gross negligence, and willfulness from an eDiscovery standpoint and cementing her status as the most famous “Judge Scheindlin” in New York (as opposed to “Judge Judy” Sheindlin, who spells her last name without a “c”).  Judge Scheindlin titled her 85-page opinion Zubulake Revisited: Six Years Later.  The

This case addresses preservation and spoliation requirements of the plaintiff and information which should have been preserved by the plaintiffs after the lawsuit was filed. Judge Scheindlin addresses in considerable detail, defining the levels of culpability — negligence, gross negligence, and willfulness in the electronic discovery context.

Issues that constituted negligence according to Judge Scheindlin’s opinion included:

  • Failure to obtain records from all employees (some of whom may have had only a passing encounter with the issues in the litigation), as opposed to key players;
  • Failure to take all appropriate measures to preserve ESI;
  • Failure to assess the accuracy and validity of selected search terms.

Issues that constituted gross negligence or willfulness according to Judge Scheindlin’s opinion included:

  • Failure to issue a written litigation hold;
  • Failure to collect information from key players;
  • Destruction of email or backup tapes after the duty to preserve has attached;
  • Failure to collect information from the files of former employees that remain in a party’s possession, custody, or control after the duty to preserve has attached.

The opinion also addresses 1) responsibility to establish the relevance of evidence that is lost as well as responsibility to prove that the absence of the missing material has caused prejudice to the innocent party, 2) a novel burden-shifting test in addressing burden of proof and severity of the sanction requested and 3) guidance on the important issue of preservation of backup tapes.

The result: spoliation sanctions against 13 plaintiffs based on their alleged failure to timely issue written litigation holds and to preserve certain evidence before the filing of the complaint.

Scheindlin based sanctions on the conduct and culpability of the spoliating party, regardless of the relevance of the documents destroyed, which has caused some to label the opinion as “draconian”.  In at least one case, Orbit One Communications Inc. v. Numerex Corp., 2010 WL 4615547 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 26, 2010)., Magistrate Judge James C. Francis concluded that sanctions for spoliation must be based on the loss of at least some information relevant to the dispute.  It will be interesting to see how other cases refer to the Pension Committee case down the road.

So, what do you think?  Is this the most significant eDiscovery case of 2010?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

eDiscovery Tips: SaaS and eDiscovery – More Top Considerations

Friday, we began talking about the article regarding Software as a Service (SaaS) and eDiscovery entitled Top 7 Legal Things to Know about Cloud, SaaS and eDiscovery on CIO Update.com, written by David Morris and James Shook from EMC.  The article, which relates to storage of ESI within cloud and SaaS providers, can be found here.

The article looks at key eDiscovery issues that must be addressed for organizations using public cloud and SaaS offerings for ESI, and Friday’s post looked at the first three issues.  Here are the remaining four issues from the article (requirements in bold are quoted directly from the article):

4. What if there are technical issues with e-discovery in the cloud?  The article discusses how identifying and collecting large volumes of data can have significant bandwidth, CPU, and storage requirements and that the cloud provider may have to do all of this work for the organization.  It pays to be proactive, determine potential eDiscovery needs for the data up front and, to the extent possible, negotiate eDiscovery requirements into the agreement with the cloud provider.

5. If the cloud/SaaS provider loses or inadvertently deletes our information, aren’t they responsible? As noted above, if the agreement with the cloud provider includes eDiscovery requirements for the cloud provider to meet, then it’s easier to enforce those requirements.  Currently, however, these agreements rarely include these types of requirements.  “Possession, custody or control” over the data points to the cloud provider, but courts usually focus their efforts on the named parties in the case when deciding on spoliation claims.  Sounds like a potential for third party lawsuits.

6. If the cloud/SaaS provider loses or inadvertently deletes our information, what are the potential legal ramifications?  If data was lost because of the cloud provider, the organization will probably want to establish that they’re not at fault. But it may take more than establishing who deleted the data. – the organization may need to demonstrate that it acted diligently in selecting the provider, negotiating terms with established controls and notifying the provider of hold requirements in a timely manner.  Even then, there is no case law guidance as to whether demonstrating such would shift that responsibility and most agreements with cloud providers will limit potential damages for loss of data or data access.

7. How do I protect our corporation from fines and sanction for ESI in the cloud?  The article discusses understanding what ESI is potentially relevant and where it’s located.  This can be accomplished, in part, by creating a data map for the organization that covers data in the cloud as well as data stored within the organization.  Again, covering eDiscovery and other compliance requirements with the provider when negotiating the initial agreement can make a big difference.  As always, be proactive to minimize issues when litigation strikes.

Let’s face it, cloud and SaaS solutions are here to stay and they are becoming increasingly popular for organizations of all sizes to avoid the software and infrastructure costs of internal solutions.  Being proactive and including corporate counsel up front in decisions related to SaaS selections will enable your organization to avoid many potential problems down the line.

So, what do you think?  Does your company have mechanisms in place for discovery of your cloud data?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

eDiscovery Tips: SaaS and eDiscovery – Top Considerations

 

There was an interesting article this week regarding Software as a Service (SaaS) and eDiscovery entitled Top 7 Legal Things to Know about Cloud, SaaS and eDiscovery on CIO Update.com, written by David Morris and James Shook from EMC.  The article, which relates to storage of ESI within cloud and SaaS providers, can be found here.

The authors note that “[p]roponents of the cloud compare it to the shift in electrical power generation at the turn of the century [1900’s], where companies had to generate their own electric power to run factories.  Leveraging expertise and economies of scale, electric companies soon emerged and began delivering on-demand electricity at an unmatched cost point and service level.”, which is what cloud components argue that the SaaS model is doing for IT services.

However, the decision to move to SaaS solutions for IT services doesn’t just affect IT – there are compliance and legal considerations to consider as well.  Because the parties to a case have a duty to identify, preserve and produce relevant electronically stored information (ESI), information for those parties stored in a cloud infrastructure or SaaS application is subject to those same requirements, even though it isn’t necessarily in their total control.  With that in mind, the article looks at key eDiscovery issues that must be addressed for organizations using public cloud and SaaS offerings for ESI, as follows (requirements in bold are quoted directly from the article):

  1. Where is ESI actually located when it is in the ethereal cloud or SaaS application?  It’s important to know where your data is actually stored.  Because SaaS providers are expected to deliver data on demand at any time, they may store your data in more than one data center for redundancy purposes.  Data centers could be located outside of the US, so different compliance and privacy requirements may come into play if there is a need to produce data from these locations.
  2. What are the legal implications of e-discovery in the cloud? Little case law exists on the subject, but it is expected that the responsibility for timely preservation, collection and production of the data remains with the organization at party in the lawsuit, even though that data may be in direct control of the cloud provider.
  3. What happens if a lawsuit is in the US but one company’s headquarters is in another country? Or what if the data is in a country where the privacy rules are different?  The article references one case – AccessData Corp. v. ALSTE Technologies GMBH , 2010 WL 318477 (D. Utah Jan. 21, 2010) – where the German company ALSTE cited German privacy laws as preventing it from collecting relevant company emails that were located in Germany (the US court compelled production anyway).  So, jurisdictional factors can come into play when cloud data is housed in a foreign jurisdiction.

This is too big a topic to cover in one post, so we’ll cover the other four eDiscovery issues to address in Monday’s post.  Let the anticipation build!

So, what do you think?  Does your company have ESI hosted in the cloud?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

eDiscovery Trends: Facemail Unlikely to Replace Traditional Email

In a November post on eDiscoveryDaily, we reported that Facebook announced on November 15 that it’s rolling out a new messaging system, including chat, text messaging, status updates and email (informally dubbed “Facemail”) that would bring messaging systems together in one place, so you don’t have to remember how each of your friends prefers to be contacted.  Many have wondered whether Facemail would be a serious threat to Google’s Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Microsoft Live Hotmail, given that Facebook has a user base of 500 million plus users from which to draw.  And, there was considerable concern raised by eDiscovery analysts that Facebook plans to preserve these messages, regardless of the form in which they are generated, forever.

However, Facemail isn’t likely to replace users’ current email accounts, according to an online poll currently being conducted by the Wall Street Journal.  More than 61 percent of over 4,001 participants who have taken the poll so far said they wouldn’t use Facebook Messages as their primary email service.  18.4 percent of voters said that they would use it as their primary email, with 20.5 percent indicating that they were not sure.  You can cast your vote here.  I just voted, so these numbers reflect “up-to-the-minute” poll results (as of 5:52 AM CST, Wednesday, December 08, that is).

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg envisions the Facemail model of email, instant messaging and SMS text messages as a simpler, faster messaging model than email’s traditional subject lines and carbon copies, which Zuckerberg considers to be “antiquated”.

Whether Facemail develops as a serious threat to Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo Mail (or even Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes) remains to be seen.  However, at least a couple of industry analysts think that it could become a significant development.

“A powerful, unified presence manager would also enable the user to express how he’d like to communicate, and to manipulate that ‘how’ and ‘when’ availability to different types of contacts,” industry analyst David Card stated in a post on GigaOm.com.  “If Facebook establishes Messages as a user’s primary tool to manage presence across multiple communications vehicles, it would be an incredibly sticky app, with huge customer lock-in potential.”

Gartner analyst Matt Cain told eWEEK.com, “It will have little impact at first on the public portal email vendors because it is a barebones email service. But if Facebook makes it the equivalent of these other services, it will have a significant deleterious impact on competing email services”.

As stated in the earlier post, it’s important to have a social governance policy in place to not only address new mechanisms such as Facemail, but all social media mechanisms that might be in use by your employees.

So, what do you think?  Do you plan to consider using Facemail as your primary email service?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

eDiscovery Trends: Facemail and eDiscovery

Email is dead.

So says Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.  “It’s too formal,” he declared, announcing his company’s new messaging service last week in San Francisco.

Facebook announced last week that it’s rolling out a new messaging system, including chat, text messaging, status updates and email (surprise!).  Zuckerberg touts it as a way of bringing messaging systems together in one place, so you don’t have to remember how each of your friends prefers to be contacted.  Will the integrated product (informally dubbed “Facemail”) that some have called “Gmail killer” be a serious threat to Gmail, MSN and Yahoo Mail?  Maybe.  With 500 million plus users, Facebook certainly has a head start towards a potentially large user base.

However, some caveats to consider from a business standpoint:

  1. Facemail messages will be clustered by sender instead of by subject, which they consider to be “antiquated”.  May be great from a social standpoint, but not so good when you need to follow the thread of a conversation with multiple people.
  2. Unified messaging is not an entirely new concept.  Just last year, Google introduced Google Wave, designed to “merge key features of media like e-mail, instant messaging, wikis, and social networking”.  Earlier this year, Google announced plans to scrap Google Wave after it failed to gain a significant following.  It will be interesting to see whether Facebook can succeed where Google failed.
  3. From an eDiscovery perspective, the potential concern is that Facebook plans to preserve these messages, regardless of the form in which they are generated, forever.  So, if your company has a retention policy in place, these communications will fall outside of that policy.

Is it time to panic?  It might be tempting to overreact and ban the use of Facemail and other outside email and social media sites, but that seems impractical in today’s social media climate.

A better approach is to have a policy in place to govern use of outside email, chat and social media that covers what employees should do (e.g., act responsibly and ethically when participating in online communities), what employees should not do (e.g., disclose confidential information, plagiarize copyrighted information, etc.) and the consequences for violating the policy (e.g., lost customers, firings, lawsuits, etc.).  We will talk more about a social governance policy in an upcoming post.  In the meantime, here is a reference to our September post for information on requesting information from Facebook via civil subpoena.

So, what do you think?  Does your company have a social governance policy?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

P.S. – So, what happened to the architect behind Google Wave, Lars Rasmussen?  He just joined Facebook.  Interesting, huh?  🙂

eDiscovery Trends: Sedona Conference Commentary on Proportionality

 

Last month, The Sedona Conference® made available its Commentary on Proportionality in Electronic Discovery, which is a project of The Sedona Conference Working Group on Electronic Document Retention & Production (WG1).  The commentary is initially being published as a "public comment version", giving participants in the legal industry an opportunity to provide comments that the editors will review and incorporate edits where appropriate into the final version.  A copy of the PDF publication can be downloaded here.

The commentary discusses the origins of the doctrine of proportionality, provides examples of its application and proposes principles for guidance, providing “a framework for the application of the doctrine of proportionality to all aspects of electronic discovery”.  Among other things, the publication identifies six Principles of Proportionality intended to provide that framework, using existing (Federal) rules and case law to support each principle.  These common-sense principles are:

  1. The burdens and costs of preservation of potentially relevant information should be weighed against the potential value and uniqueness of the information when determining the appropriate scope of preservation.
  2. Discovery should generally be obtained from the most convenient, least burdensome, and least expensive sources.
  3. Undue burden, expense, or delay resulting from a party’s action or inaction should be weighed against that party.
  4. Extrinsic information and sampling may assist in the analysis of whether requested discovery is sufficiently important to warrant the potential burden or expense of its production.
  5. Nonmonetary factors should be considered when evaluating the burdens and benefits of discovery.
  6. Technologies to reduce cost and burden should be considered in the proportionality analysis.

After stating the six principles above, the commentary goes on to discuss specific rules and case law that supports issues to consider such as the availability of information from other sources, waiver and undue delay, and burden versus benefit.  It then goes on to discuss the existing rules and case law that supports each principle.

To submit a public comment, you can download a public comment form here, complete it and fax(!) it to The Sedona Conference® at 928-284-4240.  If, like me, you’re opposed to using 1990s technology to submit your comments, the publication also notes that you can also submit feedback by emailing them at rgb@sedonaconference.org.

So, what do you think?  Have you encountered any cases where proportionality of discovery requests are at issue? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Thought Leader Q&A: Brad Jenkins of Trial Solutions

 

Tell me about your company and the products you represent. Trial Solutions is an electronic discovery software and services company in Houston, Texas that assists corporations and law firms in the collection, processing and review of electronic data. Trial Solutions developed OnDemand™, formerly known as ImageDepot™, an online e-discovery review application which is currently used by over fifty of the top 250 law firms including seven of the top ten.  Trial Solutions also offers FirstPass™, an early case assessment and first-pass review application.  Both applications are offered as a software-as-a-service (SaaS), where Trial Solutions licenses the applications to customers for use and provides access via the Internet. Trial Solutions provides litigation support services in over 90 metropolitan areas throughout the United States and Canada.

What do you see as emerging trends for eDiscovery SaaS solutions?  I believe that one emerging trend that you’ll see is simplified pricing.  Pricing for many eDiscovery SaaS solutions is too complex and difficult for clients to understand.  Many providers base pricing on a combination of collection size and number of users (among other factors) which is confusing and penalizes organizations for adding users into a case,  I believe that organizations will expect simpler pricing models from providers with the ability to add an unlimited number of users to each case.

Another trend I expect to see is provision of more self-service capabilities giving legal teams greater control over managing their own databases and cases.  Organizations need the ability to administer their own databases, add users and maintain their rights without having to rely on the hosting provider to provide these services.  A major self-service capability is the ability to load your own data on your schedule without having to pay load fees to the hosting provider.

Why do you think that more eDiscovery SaaS solutions don’t provide a free self loading capability?  I don’t know.  Many SaaS solutions outside of eDiscovery enable you to upload your own data to use and share via the Web.  Facebook and YouTube enable you to upload and share pictures and videos, Google Docs is designed for sharing and maintaining business documents, and even SalesForce.com allows you to upload contacts via a comma-separated values (CSV) file.  So, loading your own data is not a new concept for SaaS solutions.  OnDemand™ is about to roll out a new SelfLoader™ module to enable clients to load their own data, for free.  With SelfLoader, clients can load their own images, OCR text files, native files and metadata to an existing OnDemand database using an industry-standard load file (IPRO’s .lfp or Concordance’s .opt) format.

Are there any other trends that you see in the industry?  One clear trend is the rising popularity in first pass review/early case assessment (or, early data assessment, as some prefer) solutions like FirstPass as corporate data proliferates at an amazing pace.  According to International Data Corporation (IDC), the amount of digital information created, captured and replicated in the world as of 2006 was 161 exabytes or 161 billion gigabytes and that is expected to rise more than six-fold by 2010 (to 988 exabytes)!  That’s enough data for a stack of books from the sun to Pluto and back again!  With more data than ever to review, attorneys will have to turn to applications to enable them to quickly cull the data to a manageable level for review – it will simply be impossible to review the entire collection in a cost-efficient and timely manner.  It will also be important for there to be a seamless transition from first pass review for culling collections to attorney linear review for final determination of relevancy and privilege and Trial Solutions provides a fully integrated approach with FirstPass and OnDemand.

About Brad Jenkins
Brad Jenkins, President and CEO of Trial Solutions, has over 20 years of experience leading customer focused companies in the litigation support arena. Brad has authored many articles on litigation support issues, and has spoken before national audiences on document management practices and solutions.

Thought Leader Q&A: Alon Israely of BIA

 

Tell me about your company and the products you represent.  BIA is a full solution E-Discovery provider. Our core competencies are around E-Discovery Collections and Processing, but we offer the full spectrum of services around E-Discovery.   For almost a decade, BIA has been developing and implementing defensible, technology driven solutions that reduce the costs and risks related to litigation, regulatory compliance and internal audits.  BIA provides software and services to Fortune 1000, Global 2000 companies and Am Law 100 law firms. We are headquartered in New York City, and have offices in San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC and in Southwest Michigan. We also maintain digital evidence response units throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

BIA’s products are defensible and cost effective, offering defensible remote collections with DiscoveryBOT™, fast e-discovery processing with our TD Grid system and automated and secure legal hold software with Solis™.  For more about BIA’s product, click here.

What is the best way for lawyers and litigation support professionals to take control of their eDiscovery?  The best way for litigation support professionals to take control of their e-discovery is to scope projects correctly.  It is important to understand that not one size fits all in e-discovery.  That is, there are many tools and service providers out there – it is important to focus (at the beginning) on what needs to be accomplished from a legal and IT perspective first and then to determine which technologies and methods fit that strategy best. 

What is a good way to achieve predictability in eDiscovery costs?  Most of the cost analysis that exists in e-discovery today is focused on the Review side, where the data has already been collected and perhaps culled. Yet, there are still too many documents, where most of the documents are not responsive. With a focus on the left side of the EDRM, e-discovery costs are visible early on in the process.  For example, using a good (light-touch) collection tool and method to lock data down is one of the best ways to control e-discovery costs – that is, doing the right collection early-on and getting the right metrics from those collections, allow you to analyze that data (even at a high-level without incurring processing and other costs) which can then help can help the attorneys and the institutional client determine costs early in the process, and in a more predictable manner.

Is there a way to perform self collection in a defensible manner?  Yes.  Use the right tools and methods and importantly, have those tools and methods vetted (reviewed and approved) by e-discovery collection professionals.  Defensible self-collections do NOT mean that the custodian or the IT people are left to perform the collection on their own without the right plan behind them.  There are best-practices that should be followed and there are some tools that maintain the integrity of the data.  Make sure that those best practices and tools are used (having been scoped correctly – see response above) by professionals or at least used by staff and peer-reviewed or monitored by professionals.  Also, rely on custodians for good ESI identification – that is, the custodians (users) usually know better than anyone where they maintain records – so, using custodian questionnaires early-on will help inform those systems which will be most relevant – which goes to diligence (an important factor in defensible collections).  Also then the professional can work in tandem with the custodian to gather the data in a manner which will ensure the evidentiary integrity of the data.  At BIA we have been following those methods for years and have been very successful with our clients, the Courts and Opposing parties, at defending those ways of identifying and collecting ESI.

What is the importance of the left side of the EDRM model?  The left side is where it all starts with e-discovery – that is, ESI collections are usually the most affordable parts of the overall e-discovery process and are arguably the most important – that is, “garbage in/garbage-out.”  Because the subsequent parts of the e-discovery process (i.e., the “right-side of the EDRM”) rely on the data identified and gathered in the early parts of the process, it is imperative that those tasks and activities performed for the “left side of EDRM” are done in the correct manner – that is, maintaining the evidentiary integrity of the data collected.  Also, the left side of the EDRM includes preserving data and notifying custodians of their obligations to preserve – which is a piece critical to defensible e-discovery – especially in light of Pension Committee and some other recent cases.  As for the money piece, the left side of the EDRM is an area where much of the planning can occur for the rest of the process without incurring substantial costs – that planning goes a long way to ascertaining the real costs and timing with respect to the remainder of the e-discovery process.

About Alon Israely

Alon Israely has over fifteen years of experience in a variety of advanced computing-related technologies. Alon is a Senior Advisor in BIA’s Advisory Services group and currently oversees BIA’s product development for its core technology products. Prior to BIA, Alon consulted with law firms and their clients on a variety of technology issues, including expert witness services related to computer forensics, digital evidence management and data security. Prior to that, he was a senior member of several IT teams working on projects for Fortune 500 companies related to global network architecture and data migrations projects for enterprise information systems. As a pioneer in the field of digital evidence collection and handling, Alon has worked on a wide variety of matters, including several notable financial fraud cases; large-scale multi-party international lawsuits; and corporate matters involving the SEC, FTC, and international regulatory boards.  Alon holds a B.A. from UCLA and received his J.D. from New York Law School with an emphasis in Telecommunications Law. He is a member of the New York State Bar as well as several legal and computer forensic associations.

Reporting from the EDRM Mid-Year Meeting

 

Launched in May 2005, the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) Project was created to address the lack of standards and guidelines in the electronic discovery market.  Now, in its sixth year of operation, EDRM has become the gold standard for…well…standards in eDiscovery.  Most references to the eDiscovery industry these days refer to the EDRM model as a representation of the eDiscovery life cycle.

At the first meeting in May 2005, there were 35 attendees, according to Tom Gelbmann of Gelbmann & Associates, co-founder of EDRM along with George Socha of Socha Consulting LLC.  Check out the preliminary first draft of the EDRM diagram – it has evolved a bit!  Most participants were eDiscovery providers and, according to Gelbmann, they asked “Do you really expect us all to work together?”  The answer was “yes”, and the question hasn’t been asked again.  Today, there are over 300 members from 81 participating organizations including eDiscovery providers, law firms and corporations (as well as some individual participants).

This week, the EDRM Mid-Year meeting is taking place in St. Paul, MN.  Twice a year, in May and October, eDiscovery professionals who are EDRM members meet to continue the process of working together on various standards projects.  EDRM has eight currently active projects, as follows:

  • Data Set: provides industry-standard, reference data sets of electronically stored information (ESI) and software files that can be used to test various aspects of eDiscovery software and services,
  • Evergreen: ensures that EDRM remains current, practical and relevant and educates about how to make effective use of the Model,
  • Information Management Reference Model (IMRM): provides a common, practical, flexible framework to help organizations develop and implement effective and actionable information management programs,
  • Jobs: develops a framework for evaluating pre-discovery and discovery personnel needs or issues,
  • Metrics: provides an effective means of measuring the time, money and volumes associated with eDiscovery activities,
  • Model Code of Conduct: evaluates and defines acceptable boundaries of ethical business practices within the eDiscovery service industry,
  • Search: provides a framework for defining and managing various aspects of Search as applied to eDiscovery workflow,
  • XML: provides a standard format for e-discovery data exchange between parties and systems, reducing the time and risk involved with data exchange.

This is my fourth year participating in the EDRM Metrics project and it has been exciting to see several accomplishments made by the group, including creation of a code schema for measuring activities across the EDRM phases, glossary definitions of those codes and tools to track early data assessment, collection and review activities.  Today, we made significant progress in developing survey questions designed to gather and provide typical metrics experienced by eDiscovery legal teams in today’s environment.

So, what do you think?  Has EDRM impacted how you manage eDiscovery?  If so, how?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

eDiscovery Project Management: Data Gathering Plan, Schedule Collection

We’ve already covered the first step of the data gathering plan:  preparing a list of data sources of potentially relevant materials and identifying custodians.  Now let’s fill out the plan.  Here’s a step-by-step approach:

  • Determine who will gather the data.  You need an experienced computer expert who has specialized tools that collect data in a way that preserves its integrity and who can testify – if needed – regarding the processes and tools that were used.
  • For each data source on your list, identify where the data is located.  You should interview custodians to find out what computers, storage devices, communications devices and third party service providers they use.
  • For each data source on your list, identify what type of data exists.  You should interview custodians to find out what software programs they use to generate documents and the types of files they receive.  This list will get filled out further as you start looking at data, but getting this information early will give you a good feel for what to expect and will also give you a heads up on what may be required for processing and reviewing data.
  • Next, put together a schedule for the collection effort.  Determine the order in which data will be collected and assign dates to each data source.  Work with your client to build a schedule that causes minimal disruption to business operations.
  • Notify custodians in advance of when you’ll be working with their data and what you’ll need from them.

Once your schedule is in place, you’ll be able to start planning and scheduling subsequent tasks such as processing the data.

In our next eDiscovery Project Management blog, we’ll talk about documented procedures.  We’ll cover why they are important and I’ll give you some tips for preparing effective procedures.

So, what do you think?  What do you include in your data gathering plans?  Please share any comments you might have or tell us if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.