Electronic Discovery

Thought Leader Q&A: Jim McGann of Index Engines


Tell me about your company and the products you represent.  Businesses today face a significant challenge organizing their files and email to ensure timely and cost efficient access, while also maintaining compliance to regulations governing electronic data. Founded in 2003, Index Engines’ mission is to organize enterprise data assets, and make them immediately accessible, searchable and easy to manage. 

Index Engines’ discovery platform is the only solution on the market to offer a complete view of electronic data assets. Online data is indexed in-stream at wire speed in native enterprise storage protocols, enabling high-speed, efficient indexing of proprietary backup and transfer formats. Our unique approach to offline records scans backup tapes, indexes the contents and extracts relevant data, eliminating the time-consuming restoration process. Index Engines provides the only comprehensive discovery platform across both online and offline data, saving time and money when managing enterprise information.

What has caused backup tapes to become so relevant in eDiscovery?  Tape discovery actually appeared on the map after the renowned Zubulake case in 2003, and was reinforced by the FRCP amendments in 2006 and then again last year with the adoption of California’s eDiscovery act AB-5. Each of these milestones propelled tape discovery further into the eDiscovery market. These days, tapes are as common as any other container to discover relevant electronically stored information (ESI).

What can companies proactively do to address tape storage?  Needlessly storing old backup tapes is both a potential liability and a wasted expense. The liability comes from not knowing what information the tapes contain. The cost of offsite tape storage –  even if it is only a few dollars a month per tape –  quickly adds up. Tape remediation is the process of proactively discovering data contained on legacy backup tapes, and then applying a corporate retention policy to this tape data. Once the relevant data has been identified and archived accordingly, the tapes can be destroyed or recycled. 

How can a legal or litigation support professional substantiate claims of processing speed made by eDiscovery vendors?  Without an industry standard vendor-neutral benchmarking process, this is a difficult challenge. I would recommend performing a proof of concept to actually see the performance in action. Another idea would be to question the components of the technology. Is the technology simply off-the-shelf freeware that has been repackaged, or is it something more powerful?

You have recently had patents approved for your technology. Can you explain this in greater detail?  Index Engines has engineered a platform that performs sequential processing of data. We received both US and European patents for this unique approach towards the processing of enterprise data, which makes the data searchable and discoverable across both primary and secondary (backup) storage. Our patented approach enables the indexing of electronic data as it flows to backup, as well as documented high speed indexing of network data at 1TB per hour per node.

About Jim McGann
Jim is Vice President of Information Discovery for Index Engines. Jim has extensive experience with the eDiscovery and Information Management. He is currently contributing to the Sedona working group addressing electronic document retention and production. Jim is also a frequent speaker for industry organizations such as ARMA and ILTA, and has authored multiple articles for legal technology and information management publications.  In recent years, Jim has worked for technology based start-ups that provided financial services and information management solutions. Prior to Index Engines, he worked for leading software firms, including Information Builders and the French based engineering software provider Dassault Systemes. Jim was responsible for the Business Development of Scopeware at Mirror Worlds Technologies, the knowledge management software firm founded by Dr. David Gelernter of Yale University. Jim graduated from Villanova University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Thought Leader Q&A: Christine Musil of Informative Graphics Corporation


Tell me about your company and the products you represent.  Informative Graphics Corp. (IGC) is a leading developer of commercial software to view, collaborate on, redact and publish documents. Our products are used by corporations, law firms and government agencies around the world to access and safely share content without altering the original document.

What are some examples of how electronic redaction has been relevant in eDiscovery lately?  Redaction is walking the line between being responsive and protecting privilege and privacy. A great recent example of a redaction mistake having pretty broad implications includes the lawyers for former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich requesting a subpoena of President Obama. The court filing included areas that had been improperly redacted by Blagojevich’s lawyers. While nothing new or shocking was revealed, this snafu put his reputation up for public inspection and opinion once again.  

What are some of the pitfalls in redacting PDFs?  The big pitfall is not understanding what a redaction is and why it is important to do it correctly. People continue to make the mistake of using a drawing tool to cover text and then publishing the document to PDF. The drawing shape visually blocks the text, but someone can use the Text tool in Acrobat to highlight the text and paste it into Notepad.  Using a true electronic redaction tool like Redact-It and being properly trained to use it is essential. 

Is there such thing as native redaction?  This is such a hot topic that I recently wrote a white paper on the subject titled “The Reality of Native Format Production and Redaction.” The answer is: It depends who you ask. From a realistic perspective, no, there is no such thing as native redaction. There is no tool that supports multiple formats and gives you back the document in the same format as the original. Even if there was such a tool, this seems dangerous and ripe for abuse (what else might “accidentally” get changed while they are at it?). 

You recently joined EDRM’s XML section. What are you currently working on in that endeavor, to the extent you can talk about, and why do you think XML is an important part of the EDRM?  The EDRM XML project is all about creating a single, universal format for eDiscovery. The organization’s goal is really to eliminate issues around the multitude of formats in the world and streamline review and production. Imagine never again receiving a CD full of flat TIFF files with separate text files! This whole issue of how users control and see document content is at the core of what IGC does, which makes this project a great fit for IGC’s expertise.  

About Christine Musil

Christine Musil is Director of Marketing for Informative Graphics Corporation, a viewing, annotation and content management software company based in Arizona. Informative Graphics makes several products including Redact-It, an electronic redaction solution used by law firms, corporate legal departments, government agencies and a variety of other professional service companies.

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.

eDiscovery Project Management: Data Gathering Plan, Identify Data Sources


One of the first electronic discovery tasks you’ll do for a case is to collect potentially responsive electronic documents from your client.  Before you start that collection effort, you should prepare a data-gathering plan to ensure that you are covering all the bases.  That plan should identify the locations from which data will be collected, who will collect the data, and a schedule for the collection effort.

Learn about Your Client

First, you need information from your client that is aimed at identifying all the possible locations and custodians of responsive data.  Some of this information may be available in written form, and some is best gleaned by interviewing client employees.   

Start by looking at:

  • Organization charts to identify potential custodians.
  • Organization charts for the IT and Records Management departments so you’ll know what individuals have knowledge of the technology that is used and how and where data is stored.
  • Written policies on computer use, back-ups, record-retention, disaster recovery, and so on.

To identify all locations of potentially relevant data, interview client employees to find out about:

  • The computer systems that are used, including hardware, software, operating systems and email programs.
  • Central databases and central electronic filing systems.
  • Devices and secondary computers that are used by employees.
  • Methods that employees use for communicating including cell phones, instant messaging, and social networking.
  • Legacy programs and how and where legacy data is stored.
  • What happens to the email and documents of employees that have left the organization.
  • Third party providers that store company information.

Once you’ve done your homework and learned what you can from your client, compile a list of data sources of potentially relevant materials.  To compile that list, you should get input from:

  • Attorneys who are familiar with the issues in the case and the rules of civil procedure.
  • Technical staff who understand how data is accessed and how and where data is stored
  • Records management staff who are familiar with the organization’s record retention policies
  • Client representatives who are experts in the subject matter of the litigation and familiar with the operations and business units at issue. 

Once you’ve got your list of data sources, you’re ready to put together the data-gathering plan. 

So, what do you think?  Do you routinely prepare a data-gathering plan?  Have you had problems when you didn’t?  Please share any comments you might have or tell us if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Announcing eDiscovery Thought Leader Q&A Series!


eDiscovery Daily is excited to announce a new blog series of Q&A interviews with various eDiscovery thought leaders.  Over the next three weeks, we will publish interviews conducted with six individuals with unique and informative perspectives on various eDiscovery topics.  Mark your calendars for these industry experts!

Christine Musil is Director of Marketing for Informative Graphics Corporation, a viewing, annotation and content management software company based in Arizona.  Christine will be discussing issues associated with native redaction and redaction of Adobe PDF files.  Her interview will be published this Thursday, October 14.

Jim McGann is Vice President of Information Discovery for Index Engines. Jim has extensive experience with the eDiscovery and Information Management.  Jim will be discussing issues associated with tape backup and retrieval.  His interview will be published this Friday, October 15.

Alon Israely is a Senior Advisor in BIA’s Advisory Services group and currently oversees BIA’s product development for its core technology products.  Alon will be discussing best practices associated with “left side of the EDRM model” processes such as preservation and collection.  His interview will be published next Thursday, October 21.

Chris Jurkiewicz is Co-Founder of Venio Systems, which provides Venio FPR™ allowing legal teams to analyze data, provide an early case assessment and a first pass review of any size data set.  Chris will be discussing current trends associated with early case assessment and first pass review tools.  His interview will be published next Friday, October 22.

Kirke Snyder is Owner of Legal Information Consultants, a consulting firm specializing in eDiscovery Process Audits to help organizations lower the risk and cost of e-discovery.  Kirke will be discussing best practices associated with records and information management.  His interview will be published on Monday, October 25.

Brad Jenkins is President and CEO for Trial Solutions, which is an electronic discovery software and services company that assists litigators in the collection, processing and review of electronic information.  Brad will be discussing trends associated with SaaS eDiscovery solutions.  His interview will be published on Tuesday, October 26.

We thank all of our guests for participating!

So, what do you think?  Is there someone you would like to see interviewed for the blog?  Are you an industry expert with some information to share from your “soapbox”?  If so, please share any comments or contact me at daustin@trialsolutions.net.  We’re looking to assemble our next group of interviews now!

eDiscovery Case Study: Term List Searching for Deadline Emergencies!


A few weeks ago, I was preparing to conduct a Friday morning training session for a client to show them how to use FirstPass™, powered by Venio FPR™, to conduct a first pass review of their data when I received a call from the client.  “We thought we were going to have a month to review this data, but because of a judge’s ruling in the case, we now have to start depo prep for two key custodians on Monday for depositions now scheduled next week”, said Megan Moore, attorney with Steele Sturm, PLLC, in Houston.  “We have to complete our review of their files this weekend.”

So, what do you do when you have to conduct both a first pass and final review of the data in a weekend?

It was determined that Steele Sturm had to complete first pass review that Friday, so that we could prepare the potentially responsive files for an attorney review starting Saturday morning.  Steele Sturm identified a list of responsive search terms and Trial Solutions worked with the attorneys to include variations of the terms (such as proximity searches and synonyms) to finalize a list of terms to apply to the data to identify potentially responsive files.  Because FirstPass provides the ability to import and search an entire term list at once, we were able to identify potentially responsive files in a simple, two step process.  “Using FirstPass, Trial Solutions helped us cull out 75% of the collection as non-responsive, enabling our review team to focus review on the remaining 25%”, said Moore.

Once the potentially responsive files were identified, they were imported into OnDemand™, powered by ImageDepot™, for linear attorney review.  During review, the attorneys identified that some of the terms used in identifying potentially responsive files were overbroad, so additional searches were performed in OnDemand to “group tag” those files as non-responsive.  “Trial Solutions provided training and support throughout the weekend to enable our review team to quickly "tag" each file using OnDemand as to responsiveness and privilege to enable us to meet our deadline”, said Moore.

So, what do you think?  Do you have any “emergency” war stories to share?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

eDiscovery Project Management: Preparing a Budget

Tuesday, we talked about putting together a “big picture plan” for your project. And, yesterday, we provided step-by-step instructions for preparing a schedule for a specific task and identifying the resources you’ll need. Now let’s talk about preparing a budget.

Preparing a Budget

Depending on the task, there may be a lot of cost components in your budget. For many projects – for example, a document review project – the biggest cost component will be people. Let’s continue to use the document review task example.

When you prepared your schedule, you determined the number of man-hours required for the core part of the task. Take that number and multiply it by the billing rate of the team doing the work. This will most likely be your biggest cost component. Now let’s add on other costs:

  • In addition to the team doing the work, you’ll need quality control reviewers. If you want to do thorough quality control work, It’s safe to estimate that you’ll need 1 quality control person for every 4 reviewers. Calculate the number of man-hours for quality control and multiply that by the billing rate for the quality control staff.
  • Build in project management and supervisory staff hours. Maybe your quality control team will double as supervisors and all you’ll need to add in are the costs for a full-time project manager.
  • Determine how long training will take, and add in the costs for everybody on the team to attend training.
  • If you’re using a service provider to host your documents and provide an online review tool, add in the costs for that (some service providers charge monthly for storage; others charge monthly for storage and monthly per user).
  • Add in the costs for up-front work like preparing procedures and coordinating efforts with the service provider.
  • Add in costs for processing data and loading into the online review tool.

That may be it. But think through incidental costs you might incur and include them in your budget.

We’ve covered all of the basic components of planning a project, but we’re not done with planning yet. One of the tasks on a large electronic discovery project is yet another planning task: Preparing a plan for gathering data. Next time, I’ll walk you through putting together a data-gathering plan.

So, what do you think? Do you have any questions about the budgeting process? Please share any comments you might have or tell us if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

eDiscovery Project Management: Identifying Resources and Preparing a Schedule

Yesterday, we talked about putting together a “big picture plan” for your electronic discovery project. Now let’s move on to the nitty-gritty and get into resource, schedule, and budget details.

Identifying Resources and Preparing a Schedule

You need to do detailed planning for each task that you listed in your big picture plan. This means calculating a schedule and a budget and determining the resources you will need. For some tasks — like processing data – your needs will be primarily computing resources. In many cases you’ll be looking to a service provider for this work, and they can provide schedule and cost information. For other tasks – like document reviews – your greatest need will be people. This is where schedules and budgets are absolutely critical and need to be done carefully. Tasks that involve a lot of manpower hours are the ones that can get you into the most trouble with meeting deadlines and staying within budgets. Here are some very clear steps for preparing your plan:

  • Determine how many units there are to be processed. For a document review, that would be the number of documents or files that need to be reviewed.
  • Determine how many units can be processed in an hour (if you don’t already have a good feel for this, do some “time and motion” tests or talk to experienced peers).
  • Divide the total number of units by the number of units that can be processed in an hour. Now you have an estimate of the total project hours needed to complete the project.
  • Determine how many available calendar hours you have to do the work (for example, if your project needs to be completed in four weeks, you have 160 calendar hours).
  • Divide the total project hours by the calendar hours to determine the number of people you will need.

Build in some time for project start-up tasks like preparing instructions and training the review team, and build in some time on the end for tasks like final quality control reviews. That’s it. You know how many people you need, and your schedule is done. Tomorrow, we’ll walk through preparing a budget.

So, what do you think? Have any stories to tell regarding resource identification or scheduling difficulties? Please share any comments you might have or tell us if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

eDiscovery Project Management: “Big Picture” Planning

Yesterday, we introduced the series focused on Applying Project Management Techniques to Electronic Discovery and the areas we will cover over the next few weeks. Today, we will begin the discussion with planning the project.

It is unlikely that any project will be successful without good planning – both “big picture” planning and the planning of specific tasks. First you need to look at the 10,000 foot view and identify all the pieces and how they fit together. Then you need to look at the specific pieces and prepare a plan for accomplishing each.

“Big Picture” Planning

Let’s walk through a common scenario to illustrate preparing a big picture plan. Let’s say you are responsible for managing the electronic discovery tasks on a case, starting with the collection of documents and carrying through to production.

As a first step, identify the tasks that are required. Your task list might look like this:

  • Determine where responsive materials may reside and prepare a data collection plan.
  • Make forensically sound copies of potentially responsive materials.
  • Identify a service provider to process data and load into a first pass review tool.
  • Use the first pass review tool to cull the collection (this should be done by litigation team members who are familiar with the case and the documents, and who are responsible for case strategy and making decisions. They should work together with search technology experts).
  • Identify the review tool to use for identifying responsive documents.
  • Assemble and train the review team
  • Manage the document review team
  • Generate the production set.

Of course, the tasks on your list will depend on the scope of your project and the size of your collection. You many not need to include all of the tasks on this list, or you may need to include more.

For each task on your list, determine by when it needs to be done, who will be responsible, and a general approach (for example, you may determine that you’ll need a contract team for reviewing documents).

There you go. You’ve got your big picture plan for moving forward. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about planning specific tasks.

So, what do you think? Need any help with “big picture” planning to get your project off to a good start? Please share any comments you might have or tell us if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

eDiscovery Project Management: Applying Project Management Techniques to Electronic Discovery

All too often, electronic discovery projects fall apart. Deadlines are missed, costs exceed estimates, work product is flawed, and there aren’t good records of what was done. These problems can result in costs and hours that can’t be billed, dissatisfied clients, and in really bad situations, sanctions imposed by the court.

In so many cases, the problems can be avoided – or at least minimized – if basic, “common sense” project management techniques are applied. Project Management is not complicated or difficult. It is simply applying common sense principles to the projects that we handle.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to talk about common sense project management techniques and how they can – and should – be applied to electronic discovery projects. We’ll cover several areas:

  • Planning a project: Identifying the tasks that need to be done, putting together a “big picture” plan, and creating schedules and budgets for each task.
  • Creating procedures: Why are documented procedures important and how do you prepare effective procedures?
  • Assembling the right team: Who should do the work on a given task and how do you determine that?
  • Training the team: Why is training important and what should be covered?
  • Doing effective quality control: Why are quality control reviews important, how should they be done, and how often should they be done?
  • Monitoring the work: How do you ensure that you’re on schedule and within budget for a project?
  • Reporting: What kind of reporting should be done and how often?
  • Effectively managing your staff: Some quick tips for getting good work from your staff.
  • Effectively managing external resources: What can you do before a project starts, at the start of a project, and throughout a project to ensure that service providers are meeting schedules, budgets and quality requirements?
  • Effectively managing your time: Some quick tips for managing your time so you’ll be as productive and effective as possible.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin talking about “big picture” planning for the overall project. See you then!

In the meantime, what do you think? Know any project management “horror stories”? Are there any specific project management areas you are having trouble with? Please share any comments you might have or let us know if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.