eDiscoveryDaily

Inaugural Symposium on eCrime – Dealing with Multiple Data Sources

Studies show that the average person generates about 100 megabytes of data per minute. While most people leverage technology for work and personal activities, it can also be a tool for criminal offenses. On February 28, 2022, the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science held a virtual symposium on e-crime. The symposium covered topics such as cell phone forensics, email investigations, and deep fakes. CloudNine Senior Director Rick Clark was featured on a panel alongside Amber Schroader, CEO of Paraben Software, and Christa Miller, managing editor at Forensic Focus. The panel addressed how data from multiple sources can aid an investigation or discovery workflow.

Panel Discussion Points:

  • Concerns from stakeholder perspectives (particular focus on HR, legal, and IT teams)
  • Case studies involving modern data in criminal cases
  • Data privacy and ownership
  • The “human” element of the generation and interpretation of data

Managing multiple data sources doesn’t have to be stressful. To address your concerns in anticipation of your next investigation, click here.

Discover the Power of ESI Analyst During LegalWeek 2022

The past two days have been a blast for the CloudNine team. From now until Friday, March 11, CloudNine is offering in-person and virtual demos while we visit New York during LegalWeek 2022. We would love to see you there as we reconnect with long-time clients and welcome new faces. The CloudNine team is also eager for the opportunity to showcase our latest eDiscovery innovation, ESI Analyst.

Modern discovery is more than documents, it’s about telling the story. Nowadays, emails and Microsoft Office files aren’t enough to piece a narrative together. Large amounts of information can be obtained from financial transactions, geolocation data, social media activity, text messaging, and more. Through customer feedback and client experiences, we recognized how taxing modern data types could be without the right tools. As an emerging solution for modern investigations, ESI Analyst uniquely offers users the ability to ingest and investigate multiple data sources within a single platform. CloudNine’s recent acquisition of ESI Analyst allows us to provide our customers with an in-depth solution for collecting, processing, and reviewing modern data.

Ready to learn more about our latest updates and solutions? There’s still time to schedule a demo. Virtually or in-person, our team is excited to provide demonstrations on the latest integration between CloudNine Review and ESI Analyst. Meetings will also feature updates on CloudNine Review’s other integrations with LAW, Concordance, and Explore via CloudNine’s Discovery Portal. Click here to book a demo before the end of LegalWeek. Or click on the banner below to request a virtual demo later this month.

Managing the Unpredictability of eDiscovery Costs

Client fees are the lifeblood of the legal industry which means unpredictability isn’t congruent to the financial stability of a successful law firm. This means your eDiscovery document review solution can be as much of a liability as it is an asset when striving to remain profitable.

As every case differs in the volume and type of data collected, processed, and reviewed, the costs associated with it can be unpredictable. Without a balanced and consistent cost structure, the result can lead to an undesirable profit loss.

When eDiscovery was first utilized in the late 1990s, it was only in special cases involving email correspondence. Today, the American Bar Association (ABA) estimates that eDiscovery accounts for more than 80% of costs.  That translates roughly to $42 billion a year, with 70% of costs directly associated with document review.

Today’s eDiscovery has evolved further to include device data derived from multiple sources which can quickly inflate expenses and severely impact your operating budget.

At CloudNine , we are dedicated to guiding you towards eDiscovery cost recovery through our streamlined and optimized data solutions; read on for more of our tips to getting to the truth and your revenue goals more efficiently.

Get to The Truth Faster: The Biggest Challenges to Profitable eDiscovery

Controlling eDiscovery costs and charging your clients appropriately comes with certain challenges.

eDiscovery Insourcing vs Outsourcing: The profitability between these two options isn’t always black and white. There are a variety of factors when considering if outsourcing eDiscovery is the right choice for you, including:

  • What pricing models do vendors offer?
  • Are there additional fees?
  • How do hosting costs change over time?
  • Does the vendor own their technology or do they lease it?
  • What’s the full extent of capabilities the vendor has to offer?

By understanding the hidden costs of outsourcing, you can determine if it will allow you to balance cost and functionality effectively.

Delays in Court Proceedings: According to an article in the Washington Post, district attorneys are facing some of the longest case backlogs in living memory due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These delays mean more costs for longer hosting and storage times for important eDiscovery data, especially when being billed by the gigabyte.

Unpredictable Timing: The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees a person accused of a crime the right to a speedy trial. That means by federal law, a criminal case must proceed to trial within 70 days of indictment. However, felony trials can sometimes linger for well over a year.  The unpredictability of time between indictment and trial means costs can run higher than expected.

Managing Multiple Vendors and/or Systems: With many vendors specializing in different features and functions, it’s difficult to find a one-stop shop for all your eDiscovery solution needs. To compensate, you’ll need to engage with different vendors resulting in more contracts, more fees, and more time wasted learning how to operate the different systems.

By using a single solution to collect and assemble multiple modern data types, you can better retain the relevant context and timeline to tell the whole story. Putting together all the pieces of the puzzle becomes simpler, faster, and more strategic.

Making eDiscovery Costs More Predictable: A consistent cost recovery model can help predict and recuperate many eDiscovery expenses, but you’ll want to evaluate the pros and cons to identify the model best suited for your firm.

Examples of common cost recovery models include:

Billable Hours: The majority of law firms traditionally charge clients the billable hours they spend performing processing and project management. This model results in the least amount of pushback from clients as they’re paying strictly for the attorneys’ time. However, this can become less profitable if your law firm is forced to host its eDiscovery data long-term due to delays in court proceedings.

Billable Hours + Hosting Fees: To compensate for increased expenses, your law firm can add hosting fees to billing statements in addition to billable hours. However, clients often push back as they may not view hosting fees as actual legal work. These fees, usually charged per gigabyte, can help you recoup eDiscovery costs, but only if the client is willing to pay.

Third-Party Vendor Style: Another option for cost recovery is to invoice your clients with line items similar to how a third-party eDiscovery vendor would operate. You can include billing for individual items such as:

  • The number of gigabytes processed
  • The volume of data hosted
  • Any analytics applied to the data
  • Any licensing fees for software used

While some clients may be familiar with this model based on their experience with eDiscovery vendors, others may balk at these types of expenses. Learn more about how to optimize your eDiscovery cost recovery by downloading our eBook: Optimize eDiscovery Cost Recovery: 6 Steps to Make Your Review Process More Profitable.

Streamline with CloudNine. Optimize eDiscovery in Minutes.

As a proven leader in eDiscovery, CloudNine has provided innovative data collection and review solutions for hundreds of law firms and legal service providers since 2002.

Regardless of the type of cost recovery model you choose, CloudNine’s eDiscovery platform delivers a complete and flexible suite of solutions at a predictable and affordable price. Some of the benefits include:

  • SaaS Hosting for All Data – CloudNine’s SaaS offering allows analysis and review of all modern data types to include email, text messages, corporate chat applications, and geolocation.
  • Data and Storage Control – Right-size your data by culling it upfront to reduce your storage needs and control your costs.
  • User-Friendly Solutions – Every CloudNine solution is easy to use and operates on a self-service basis including smartphone collection data.
  • Dedicated Support – Our services teams are always available if you need additional support.
  • Flexible Storage – Optimize your spending whether you choose our all-in storage option or choose to pay for storage as needed.
  • Low Overall Pricing – Get predictability and affordability without compromise and leverage the features you need without paying for the ones you don’t.

Improve and optimize your eDiscovery by simplifying and streamlining the process. You’ll make it easier on your clients and more profitable for your firm.  Reach out and book a demo to  learn how CloudNine can make your eDiscovery most cost-efficient.

Perin Discovery Streamlines Workflow Through ESI Analyst: CloudNine Podcasts

For legal teams, the race to production may seem never-ending. The journey begins with some data mapping to discern who owns the data and where it is located. Once the identification process is successful, legal teams are often stopped by the first roadblock. They need to find a vendor that can collect modern data types such as text messages, tweets, and videos. After the data is collected, another roadblock stands in the way. A second vendor is needed to carry out review and production. Stopping and restarting between each step is frustrating and time-consuming, yet few LSPs offer means for a continuous workflow.

Recognizing this issue, Peter Smith and Erin Perczak launched Perin Discovery to provide a one-stop shop for both digital forensics and eDiscovery. The co-founders joined Rick Clark for our 360 Innovate Podcast to explain how they leverage ESI Analyst to engage their clients in a smooth workflow. To learn how our platform has improved their data and case strategies, visit this link: https://cloudnine.com/webcasts/perin-discovery-podcast/?pg=ediscoverydaily/collection/perin-discovery-streamlines-workflow-through-esi-analyst-cloudnine-podcasts

Kroll Leverages ESI Analyst for Case Insights: CloudNine Podcasts

Without the right tools, sorting through a large dataset is akin to stumbling in the dark. Before deep-diving into voluminous data, legal teams need to know what to look for. The sooner those insights are found, the better. For years, attorneys uploaded data to traditional review platforms to win their clients and firm a head start. Since the platforms offered minimal searching tools, attorneys meticulously combed through mobile device data text by text. This process is not only time-consuming but also inefficient. Valuable case insights are easy to miss when hidden amongst other information.

CloudNine Senior Director, Rick Clark, kicks off the new 360 Innovate Podcast through an interview with Phil Hodgkins, Director of Data Insights and Forensics at Kroll. As a growing global practice, Kroll is well-versed in managing data-heavy projects involving compliance, investigations, and litigations. While conducting an internal investigation, Kroll learned how ESI Analyst’s capabilities surpassed those of two traditional review platforms. Through its various identification and visualization features, ESI Analyst yielded larger insights at a much faster rate. To learn how the Kroll team utilized ESI Analyst to strategically navigate through a broad dataset, visit this link: https://cloudnine.com/webcasts/kroll-innovate/?pg=ediscoverydaily/searching/kroll-leverages-esi-analyst-for-case-insights-cloudnine-podcasts

Generate More Revenue For Your Law Firm with Modern eDiscovery

One of the biggest challenges for any business is discovering new revenue streams once your growth reaches its zenith. For most law firms, this creates a welcome opportunity to offer new and better solutions while bringing more revenue into the organization.

As technology evolves, so does the diversity of new data types.  By expanding your firm’s ability effectively and accurately collect and analyze emerging data types, you create new opportunities to meet the changing needs of your clients.

Hit the eDiscovery Bullseye: The Latest Trends in Data Types

Electronically stored information (ESI) evolves every time new software is created. Whether it’s an updated version of current data or an entirely new data type, ESI is constantly changing.

To operate successfully, your law firm needs the ability to effectively process these modern data types. Consider the following statistics from two popular messaging applications – Microsoft Teams and Slack:

  • Teams has 145 million daily active users
  • Teams is used by more than 500,000 organizations as their default messaging platform
  • Slack has 10 million daily active users
  • Slack is used by 43% of Fortune 100 businesses

The sheer volume of modern data users creates an unmatched treasure trove of data vital to your client’s litigation. Other popular communication platforms like Google Meet, Zoom, GoToMeeting, and WhatsApp also contribute to the unparalleled growth of modern data types.

However, only recently have legal professionals begun to see the benefits of reviewing these data types since their reliance on traditional data types was easy and typically, sufficient.

Everyone in the legal profession can benefit from the ability to collect and analyze messages and metadata from communication platforms.  However, law firms and forensics companies in particular now understand the true value of other modern data like computer activity, geolocation, and financial transactions because it’s critically important to the success of their investigations.

Read a case study to learn how CloudNine is helped reconstruct conversations across multiple file types.

Why Modern Data Doesn’t Work Well with Traditional eDiscovery Platforms

Traditional data is typically straightforward in the form of Word documents, spreadsheets, and emails converted into PDF. The biggest issue with collecting and analyzing modern metadata on a traditional eDiscovery platform is compatibility.

Modern data transmitted by web clients and web servers is usually found within JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) files. JSON files are the preferred format for almost every public web service available today, including Teams and Slack.

HTML is another popular file type used by websites and social media applications like Facebook and Twitter to create individual pages.

JSON and HTML cause problems with traditional eDiscovery because traditional platforms cannot extract the content and metadata and organize it into an easy-to-review format. The result is usually very difficult to read, let alone review for eDiscovery.

Another challenge is simply the cost. In Zubulake v USB Warburg, the courts found the defendants were required to provide all relevant data files related to the case at their own expense. If your client is a large corporation, this could mean a large volume of devices to be collected for eDiscovery, which will naturally raise costs.

Tip the Scales of Justice with a Modern eDiscovery Platform

As applications like Teams and Slack make modern data more common, it has become more acceptable to be used in litigation. In the past, attorneys would argue to have modern data dismissed, and more often than not, the judge would allow it. Today’s judges have a better understanding of the value of emerging data so they require it for eDiscovery.

Modern eDiscovery platforms can collect a variety of modern data and accurately prepare it for review. Data types under this umbrella include:

  • Communication from messaging applications
  • File sharing applications
  • Metadata from video conferences
  • Mobile messaging including text, SMS, and MMS
  • Computer activity including the movement and alteration of files
  • GeoLocation
  • Social media posts
  • Financial transactions

In addition, by leveraging a modern data review platform, you can collect communication across multiple applications and devices. Based on the metadata, you can create pristine communication threads that flow from one platform to another, giving you a more complete picture and the context to understand how people were behaving and why. That simply isn’t possible in a traditional eDiscovery platform.

Stay up to date on how CloudNine is revolutionizing eDiscovery by signing up for our regular eDiscovery updates and best practices.

How Law Firms Use Modern eDiscovery to Offer Better Solutions

When you have the ability to review modern data, you can manage your case more effectively and efficiently by consolidating the workflows of multiple processes using a single SaaS platform.

  • Early Case Assessment. With CloudNine’s people and platforms, you are enabled to collect, cull, process and organize large amounts of modern data, to provide the needed insight to your case investigations to predict costs more accurately.
  • Unified Review Workflows. A simplified and consolidated workflow allows you to process, sort, review, tag, and produce traditional and modern data quickly and accurately.
  • Higher Level of Data Organization. By leveraging the metadata and conversation content, you can analyze and review all data types easier and more efficiently. This “Data NOT Documents” approach allows you to quickly narrow in on key conversations faster than traditional document review.
  • Context to Understand the Whole Story. Following digital conversations across multiple platforms along with computer activity, geolocation, social media and financial transactions, you create a more complete narrative to add the context needed to understand the whole story.

With these benefits, you can now demonstrate maximum efficiency and offer unparalleled service to your clients.

Your clients are looking to you to provide the best legal advice and management of their data, regardless of data types, modern or traditional.

By offering a solution giving them equal access to both traditional and modern data types with CloudNine eDiscovery solutions. Request a free demo and let us show you how CloudNine can help you generate more revenue while better preparing your clients for litigation.

Four Times Self-Collection Went Wrong

Per FRCP Rule 26(g), attorneys must sign discovery requests, responses, and objections. To the best of the attorney’s knowledge, the signature certifies three factors: 1) the document is compliant with existing rules and regulations; 2) it has no improper purpose such as slowing litigation; 3) it is not unreasonably burdensome to the producing party. This may become an issue if your client opts for self-collection. If counsel does not oversee or supervise the collection process, they have violated the rule and will be sanctioned accordingly. [1] During self-collection, custodians are responsible for identifying and gathering potentially relevant ESI on their own. When conducted carefully, self-collection may be adequate and cost-effective for small cases. However, there are several risks involved. The client may lose valuable metadata if their collection is done incorrectly. Additionally, they may purposely or accidentally omit incriminating evidence. Overall, if the self-collection process is not defensible and well-documented, the evidence will be rejected, and sanctions will follow. [2]

Self-Collection Cases and Sanctions

  • EEOC v. M1 1500 Group is a well-known age discrimination case in which two of the defendant’s employees collected ESI without any counsel supervision. Counsel signed the discovery response despite their hands-off approach. The plaintiffs moved to compel after counsel admitted to their negligence and the defendants produced less evidence than expected. Judge Matthewman granted the defendants a second chance but required both parties to collaborate in a robust meet and confer. The court also issued sanctions and advised counsel to seek the assistance of an ESI vendor. [3]
  • Over a year after the case ended, Green v. Blitz reopened once the court discovered that the defendant destroyed and omitted relevant email evidence. Only one employee oversaw the collection process, and he described himself in court as “computer illiterate.” After confirming the relevance of the missing emails, the court imposed civil contempt sanctions worth $250,000. The defendants also faced a $500,00 purging sanction unless they provided a copy of the order to all litigants who filed against them within the past two years. As the final sanction, Blitz USA was ordered to file a copy of the order when filing any lawsuit within the next five years. [4]
  • Nat’l Day Laborer Org. v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency involved various government agencies who lacked a uniform collection plan. The agencies also failed to properly document their differing collection processes. Consequently, the agencies were sanctioned for relying too heavily on self-collection. They were also reprimanded for their undocumented and uncoordinated efforts.
  • In Suntrust Mortgage Inc. v. AIG United Guaranty Corp., the defendant chose not to seek the help of any forensic experts or ESI vendors. One employee was in charge of the identification and collection process. By copying and pasting different emails together, the employee tampered with the evidence before production. The fabrication resulted in court issued financial sanctions. [2]

Avoid self-collection pitfalls by utilizing CloudNine’s Collection Manager, a breakthrough extraction solution for Office 365 emails and OneDrive files. To learn more information or request a demo, visit: https://cloudnine.com/software/cloudnine-collection-manager/

 

[1] Gretchen E. Moore, “The Perils of Self-Collection of Electronically Stored Information,” The National Law Review, April 28, 2021.

[2] FindLaw Attorney Writers, “Self-Collection: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” FindLaw, June 20, 2016.

[3] Kelly Twigger, “Beware of the Perils of Allowing Self-Collection,” eDiscovery Assistant, July 9, 2020.

[4] Peter Vogel, “Another Trap is Sprung: The Danger of Self-Collection,” Foley & Lardner LLP, June 20, 2011.

How to Redact Without Regrets

Safeguarding a client’s personal information is an important responsibility. Redactions protect client privacy by obscuring confidential, privileged, non-responsive, and personally identifiable information from relevant documents. [1] Though important, redactions are a time-consuming part of the review process, especially when done manually. To save time, legal teams should conduct an initial assessment of what, when, and where redactions should be placed. As a first step, examine the nature of the case and discovery. In other words, identify the tools and file types that will be included in the review process. When considering which redaction tool to use, refer back to the guidelines set by the ESI protocol and protective order. The sophistication of both parties can also impact the accessibility of digital redaction technology. [2] Overall, redactions should not be taken lightly. Mistakes often embarrass or endanger the client’s safety. Other ramifications may include waived attorney-client privilege, malpractice lawsuits, suspension, and even disbarment.

Redaction Failures

  • In January 2019, Paul Manafort’s pleadings were filed as PDF documents containing portions of blacked-out text. By copying and pasting the PDF into a different text document, people were able to see the improperly hidden text. Consequently, the court learned of Manafort’s exchanges with Konstantin Kilimnik, an alleged Russian intelligence agent.
  • In a 2018 legal battle with an app called Six4Three, Facebook’s lawyers failed to obscure sensitive information from a PDF file. The mistake revealed that Facebook considered giving user data to Six4Three in exchange for financial compensation.
  • In August 2018, the United States Postal Service was tasked with producing a civilian personnel file of Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger. In compliance with the Freedom of Information Act, USPS successfully produced the file but failed to redact any of her personal information. Information disclosed in the file included Spanberger’s SF-86 security clearance application, social security number, and responses to personal background questions. [3]

Redaction Mistakes to Avoid

  • Don’t simply change the font to white. Though the words look like they have disappeared, they can be seen when highlighted.
  • Don’t hide black text with black highlights. Similar to the white font problem, black highlight looks like it hides black text. However, the information will show when a mouse is clicked and dragged over it.
  • Don’t forget about the metadata! Metadata from word-processing programs contains information about text changes and deletions. Unless purged from the document, this information can be found even after the file is re-saved or converted to a PDF.
  • Don’t rely on Adobe Acrobat edits to black-out or remove text. These edits can be removed if the information is copied and pasted into a different document. [4]

 

[1] Rachel Teisch, “Death, Taxes, and Redaction Blunders,” EDRM, February 4, 2022.

[2] Clara Skorstad, “Right on Redactions,” JD Supra, November 4, 2020.

[3] “Getting Redactions Right Matters Now More Than Ever,” Warner Norcross + Judd, November 12, 2019.

[4] “Best Practices: Redaction of Information,” United States District Court, Southern District of Alabama.

Emerge From Data Chaos With eDiscovery Built For Today’s Data

Did you know in 2020 alone, the average person created 1.7 MB of data every second? (source).  Now consider this in the context of your latest eDiscovery case:  from cell phone forensics to computer user activity, the amount of digital documents to review is massive.  For example, here’s a glimpse of the daily counts of electronically stored information (ESI) including traditional and modern data types:

  • 4 billion emails (source)
  • 7 billion text messages (source)
  • 100 billion WhatsApp messages (source)
  • 4 billion Snapchat photo messages (source)

And, this doesn’t even include other traditional data types like documents or spreadsheets. Nor does it count modern data types like computer user activity, geolocation tracking, corporate chat applications, financial transactions, or social media posts.  While eDiscovery review platforms are designed to process traditional data types, you need a better, more efficient way to analyze the sheer volume of digital discovery types.

To provide a comprehensive view of all data types, CloudNine has introduced a modern data review experience to enable the analysis of existing and emerging data types, from a single eDiscovery solution platform.

Synergize eDiscovery of Today’s Data with CloudNine

Current eDiscovery review platforms were developed to support traditional data types like emails, Word documents, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint as evidence in litigation. The problem is they rarely provide the context needed to tell the whole story because they miss potentially relevant data found on mobile devices and corporate chat applications like Microsoft Teams or Slack. 

Without this nuanced data, you don’t have the ability to show behaviors, actions, or communication across different platforms, making it more challenging to prove your case as it’s very difficult to show context if you’re working exclusively with traditional file types.

Using Cellebrite UFED, a digital tool for extracting data from mobile devices, we can quickly collect cell phone data and inject it directly into the document review platform.

In addition, CloudNine’s modern data review platform can create timelines to organize relevant data in a linear outline to tell a story from beginning to end. Combining this with the ability to track digital conversations across multiple platforms, you’ll have better insight into:

  • How subjects were behaving
  • What they were doing
  • Where they were going
  • Who and when they were communicating with

CloudNine’s modern data solution expands your ability to understand the whole story in ways your competition can’t. The ability to collect and review this type of data allows you to better understand the facts surrounding your litigation, applying context so you’re able to tell the whole story.

Our solution for today’s data is suitable for both large and small data sets. It’s robust enough to handle the largest cases with extremely large data sets while remaining nimble to give attorneys the ability to view data quickly and easily on much smaller cases.

Regardless of the case or file types your team is reviewing, your eDiscovery team can get to the truth much faster.

Take the Rediscovery Out of Your eDiscovery: CloudNine’s ESI Analyst is the Perfect Complement to Enhance CloudNine Review

While CloudNine Review brings a fast, secure and easy-to-use platform to load and export data quickly and efficiently, the addition of a modern data solution adds a new layer of context and complexity to your litigation.

Now, when you receive your data, you can upload all the data sources into our modern data platform, perform eDiscovery and then import your modern and traditional data directly to CloudNine Review for a simplified and streamlined review.

Most legal firms and LSPs are forced to shoehorn modern data into traditional legal document review platforms. This can lead to confusion about the importance of what role specific text messages play in the story.

However, by letting you review every type of data more accurately, you get a more efficient solution that addresses both traditional and modern data, providing more insight and clarity into the factors behind the litigation.

A perfect example of this is the ability to analyze financial data and computer user activity. While collecting and reviewing financial data means you can track transactions and payments easier, tracking computer activity through registry files or event logs lets you see actions taking place on a digital level.

For example, if an employee copies a confidential document onto a thumb drive and walks out the door with it, you’ll be able to see that action in the data records.

As an organization, we are committed to evolving in the same way eDiscovery evolves. Stay up-to-date on the latest CloudNine updates by signing up to receive our latest eDiscovery news delivered to your inbox.

Don’t Fall Prey To Ingestion Congestion: The Ease of Integration and Deployment with CloudNine

Simple Deployment:  While the technical aspects of integrating CloudNine’s modern eDiscovery review platform is incredibly easy, the important thing to know is how simple it is to deploy the solution for your staff. Training for your administrators to operate the platform can be completed in an hour while training your review team for a specific case takes as little as 15-30 minutes.

Searching and Batching: By creating a series of searches based on specific keywords or phrases, you can pull data batches to assign to your team so they can review and add custom tags for relevant data. This is a valuable tool for anyone using this modern data eDiscovery solution, whether you have the resources to employ a litigation-support team or if you’re a smaller office with only one or two attorneys.

Superior Support:  If there’s any questions or problems, support is just a phone call away. If you don’t know how to use a particular feature or tool, we can schedule a quick online training session and walk you through the process. Plus, there are over a hundred resource articles in our library to help you learn how to better use CloudNine’s solution.

By offering solutions that empower you to collect, review and analyze both traditional and modern data types, you can streamline your eDiscovery process and capture information that tells the whole story through different platforms.

To complement your existing eDiscovery solution and combine both traditional and modern data types into a more complete narrative, contact CloudNine to find out how we can seamlessly fold our self-service, SaaS application designed for all data types into your eDiscovery process.

Do’s and Don’ts of Text Message Discovery

Discovery requests of the past had little reason to include text messages as a form of evidence. Emails were the primary concern since they held the bulk (if not all) of business communications. Finding relevant corporate emails was rather simple. Corporate servers stored the data, regardless of how the email was sent or received (via mobile device or work computer). Consequently, companies were able to locate ESI without the assistance of forensic experts. As text messages became the preferred method for informal communications, their usage in the business world also grew. [1] In 2015, research showed that 80% of professionals conducted business communications through texts. This percentage has likely skyrocketed in recent years due to the shift to remote work during the pandemic. Today, some industry experts refer to texts as the new email, citing them as the main source of relevant information. Litigants, however, must remember that phone carriers aren’t obligated to permanently preserve message records. Unless subpoenaed, they may refuse to participate in discovery investigations. Instead of depending on carriers, text messages must be preserved and obtained from the device itself. [2]

Text Message Spoliation Sanctions

  • Stinson v. New York City: The plaintiffs in this suit alleged that the NYPD was issuing summonses without probable cause. The court imposed an adverse inference sanction against New York City for failing to preserve and collect relevant text evidence.
  • Timms v. LZM, LLC: Plaintiff Heather Timms sued her employer for failing to compensate her overtime hours, but she removed text messages and a messaging app before submitting her cell phone as evidence. Consequently, attorney fees were issued, and the case was terminated.
  • First Fin. Sec. Inc. v. Lee: FFS, an insurance broker, requested the production of all written communication after the defendants violated their contract by sharing company information after termination. After failing to produce text message evidence, the Court arranged attorney fees and an adverse inference sanction against the defendant. [3]

Text Message Do’s

  • Develop policies about business messaging. Some companies may go as far as banning all employees from discussing work affairs over text. Others companies may impose regulations on who and how work messages are sent. If your company permits any kind of text-based business communications, set up retention policies and collection plans. Through the policies, ensure that the data is preserved if needed for litigation.
  • Once your retention policies are established, consistently enforce them. Update your employees on any changes that the policies undergo. Poorly enforced policies are no better (and sometimes worse) than having no policy at all.
  • Train employees on how to appropriately send work texts. Also, inform them of the risks associated with deleting potentially relevant information.
  • Issue litigation holds when anticipating litigation. In the litigation hold letter, remind employees to disable any automated deletion features. Companies should also specify if message preservation is required for company devices, personal devices, or both. [4]

Text Message Don’ts

  • Rely on screenshots alone as a way to create records. Text messages can be easily manipulated, so screenshots are not enough to validate their authenticity. Find additional means of proof such as witness or expert testimony. As a better alternative, companies can find a discovery solution to produce the evidence through native or near-native files.
  • Rely on phone carriers to preserve the messages. As stated above, carriers will only store the data for short periods of time. Take ownership of your preservation duties by establishing retention policies in advance.
  • Delete messages or conversation histories when anticipating litigation.
  • Manually preserve text messages by copying and pasting them into other sources. Manual efforts include forwarding text messages to email and exporting texts to Excel files. These methods are time-consuming and harder to authenticate in court. [5]

 

[1] Nicole Allen, “Text Messages: Preservation Lessons for Mobile E-discovery,” LitSmart E-Discovery, December 20, 2017.

[2] Bill Kammer, “In eDiscovery, Texts are the New Email,” SDCBA Blawg 401, January 7, 2020.

[3] Zac Muir, “Failure to Produce Text Messages in eDiscovery,” Microfocus, October 16, 2012.

[4] Anthony J. Diana, Catherine Bernard, and Therese Craparo, “Managing The Risks And Costs Of Text Messaging (Electronic Discovery & Records Management – Tip Of The Month),” April 3, 2013.

[5] “How Federal Agencies Can Capture Text Messages for E-Discovery,” February 4, 2021.