eDiscoveryDaily

TIFFs, PDFs, or Neither: How to Select the Best Production Format

Through Rule 34(b) of the FRCP, the requesting party may select the form(s) of production based on the needs of the case. Though this flexibility better serves the client, it also begs a few important questions: What is the best form of production? Is there one right answer? Since there are multiple types of ESI, it’s hard to definitively say that one format type is superior. Arguably, any form is acceptable so long as it facilitates “orderly, efficient, and cost-effective discovery.” Requesting parties may ask for ESI to be produced in native, PDF, TIFF, or paper files. Determinations typically consider the production software’s capabilities as well as the resources accessible to the responding party. [1] The purpose of this article is to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each type so that legal teams can make informed decisions in the future.

Production Options

  1. Native – As the often-preferred option, native files are produced in the same format in which the ESI was created. Since native files require no conversions, they save litigants time and money. True natives also contain metadata and other information that TIFF and PDF files may lack. Litigants may also be interested in native files for their clear insights into dynamic content (such as comments and animations). TIFFs and PDFs can only process dynamic content through overlapping static images. This cluttered format is often confusing and hard to decipher. Though useful, litigants must be careful with the metadata and dynamic content because they may contain sensitive or privileged information. [2] Native files may seem like the superior choice, but they aren’t always an option. Unfortunately, some ESI types cannot be reviewed unless they are converted into a different form. Additionally, reviewers utilizing this format are unable to add labels or redactions to the individual pages.
  2. TIFF – TIFFs (tagged image format files) are black and white, single-paged conversions of native files. Controllable metadata fields, document-level text, and an image load file are included in this format. Though TIFFs are more expensive to produce than native files, they offer security in the fact that they cannot be manipulated. Other abilities that differentiate TIFFs include branding, numbering, and redacting information. [3] To be searchable, TIFFs must undergo Optical Character Recognition (OCR). OCR simply creates a text version of the TIFF document for searching purposes.
  3. PDFs – Similar to TIFFs, PDFs also produce ESI through static images. PDFs can become searchable in two ways. The reviewer may choose to simply save the file as a searchable document, or they can create an OCR to accompany the PDF. However, OCR cannot guarantee accurate search results for TIFFs or PDFs. [1] Advocates for PDFs cite the format’s universal compatibility, small file size, quick download speeds, clear imaging, and separate pages. [4]
  4. Paper – As the least expensive option, paper production may be used for physical documents or printing digital documents. Many litigants prefer to avoid paper productions because they don’t permit electronic review methods. All redactions and bates stamps must be completed manually. This may be okay for a case that involves a small amount of ESI. However, manually sorting and searching through thousands of documents is time-consuming and exhausting. Litigants who opt for this format also miss out on potentially relevant metadata. [3]

 

[1] Clinton P. Sanko and Cheryl Proctor, “The New E-Discovery Battle of the Forms,” For The Defense, 2007.

[2] “Native File,” Thomas Reuters Practical Law.

[3] Farrell Pritz P.C. “In What Format Should I Make My Production? And, Does Format Matter?” All About eDiscovery, May 30, 2019.

[4] “PDF vs. TIFF,” eDiscovery Navigator, February 13, 2007.

Spoliation Sanctions and Prevention Strategies

Emails, Slack messages, tweets, and digital documents are just a few data types that a company may generate on a daily basis. Thankfully, businesses aren’t required to store all electronic records indefinitely. A party, however, must preserve evidence before litigation begins or whenever the party suspects the information may be relevant to anticipated litigation. Spoliation refers to the failure to preserve relevant information during contemplated or pending litigation. According to the FRCP, intentional spoliation may result in dismissal of action, default judgment, or court/jury presumption that the missing information was unfavorable to the responsible party. If unintentional, the court may impose measures no greater than necessary to cure the prejudice. [1] Though the FRCP offers examples, sanctions may be imposed at the court’s discretion. Other sanctions for spoliation may include monetary fees, precluding a party from introducing other evidence, and a motion to strike out pleadings. [2]

Strategies for Preventing Spoliation

  • Identify all potentially relevant evidence by considering the mediums and locations in which the data may be stored. This can be done by questioning potential custodians through questionnaires or personal interviews. Be mindful that relevant evidence can come in various forms: videos, emails, Word documents, social media posts, etc.
  • Utilize a litigation hold to instruct employees against deleting relevant information. Make sure to send the litigation hold to the IT department if any automated deletion programs need to be stopped.
  • After sharing the litigation hold, issue reminders to custodians of its existence. Merely having the memorandum may not be enough to avoid sanctions. Thus, companies should remind custodians to fully comply with the instructions. [3] Companies may also opt to require written confirmation from employees to confirm they have received the litigation hold.
  • Check your employees’ understanding of their preservation obligations. This can be done by leaving space for questions and confusion surrounding the litigation hold’s instructions.
  • Properly collect and store your ESI. It may be wise to make copies of any relevant information. [4]
  • If necessary, hire an independent expert for the collection and production process. Doing so will reduce your risk of spoliation greatly. If spoliation still occurs, employment of the expert may be considered as evidence of the company’s good faith. [3]

[1] “E-discovery and the Duty to Preserve,” Constangy Brooks, Smith & Prophete LLP, June 20, 2016.

[2] Michael W. Mitchell and Edward Roche, “Lessons Learned: Destroying Relevant Evidence Can Be Catastrophic in Litigation,” Smith Anderson, August 6, 2020.

[3] Rebecca Edelson, Seong Kim, and Angela Reid, “3 Steps in Furtherance of Avoiding Devastating Spoliation Sanctions In Trade Secret Misappropriation Litigation,” Mondaq, December 9, 2019.

[4] James Floyd Jr. and Ryan Owen, “Don’t Delete That Data! Actions Required to Satisfy Document Preservation Obligations,” JD Supra, October 26, 2021.

Ready, Set, Recover: Attain eDiscovery Cost Recovery with CloudNine

There’s a simple truth to running any business, including legal service providers and law firms: Profitability means you need to make more money than you spend. While this seems like an easy concept to follow, there are hidden or unexpected costs which can jeopardize your ability and financial performance. 

One of the biggest culprits behind your firms’ rising operating costs is legal data collection and review. As data sizes and timelines become more unpredictable so does the price of eDiscovery services. 

eDiscovery costs are on the rise for three main reasons:

  1. Exponential growth in data: As our communications have become more sophisticated, so has eDiscovery. Previously, cases including paper files now include financial transactions, geolocation, slack messages and more. This has led to an ever-expanding amount of data associated with new cases.
  2. Complex technology: Many eDiscovery solutions operate more like IT systems, requiring servers, networks, desktops, applications, etc. This requires firms who insource their eDiscovery to maintain a team of IT professionals to manage any updates that may arrive. 
  3. Complex infrastructure:  The fear of missing critical deadlines has driven system architects to prepare for extreme one-off situations versus everyday matters resulting in overbuilt and overcomplicated review solutions. 

The Most Common Cost Recovery Models

Despite the unpredictable cost of eDiscovery, nearly 82% (1) of LSPs and law firms continue to pass these costs along to their clients even though they typically recover only 77% of the costs (2).

The most common cost recovery models are:

  1. Billable hours for time spent performing eDiscovery services:  This typically results in minimal pushback from the clients since they’re accustomed to paying by the hour. 
  2. Billable hours + hosting:  Usually charged per GB, hosting fees allow you to recoup more of your eDiscovery costs but are not always accepted by clients as actual legal work. 
  3. Third-party style:  Charging fees like a vendor allow you to recoup costs for specific line items like GBs processed and hosted, analytics, and licensing fees. 

Surprisingly, 13% of LSPs and firms simply absorb the cost of eDiscovery rather than bill their clients (3).   The most common reasons for this are:

  • They practice in an ultra-competitive market
  • They honor previous agreements
  • They take on non-billable projects

To recoup more of your eDiscovery investment, read on to learn the steps you can take to optimize your cost recovery efforts or download our eBook: Optimize eDiscovery Cost Recovery: 6 Steps to Make Your Review Process More Profitable for a more expansive look into cost recovery. 

1.  Quantify Your Current Cost Recovery Challenges

Identifying all the costs associated with your eDiscovery lets you know where, how, and when you’re losing money. A few of the factors you should assess include:

  • Total annual eDiscovery and document review costs
  • Total revenue from eDiscovery
  • Cost comparison of running eDiscovery document review solutions in-house versus outsourcing. 

2.  Re-examine the Cost of eDiscovery Insourcing versus the Benefits of Outsourcing

While larger law firms can afford complex eDiscovery technology, smaller LSPs and firms need to balance cost and functionality to optimize cost recovery. They need to consider things like:

  • What pricing model makes the most sense?
  • What technology is more economical to own versus lease?
  • What features and functionality do you need to provide your users?

3.  Right-Size Your eDiscovery Data

With data volumes increasing exponentially, you need to be smart about what data you’re hosting in the cloud. By culling your data on-premise, you can reduce your hosting costs before you move it to the cloud. 

4.  Be Strategic About Your Storage

Not every client needs a lot of data storage. Adopt a solution that allows you to adapt your storage strategy on a case-by-case basis so you’re not stuck offering a single standard storage model to clients that may need smaller options.

5.  Choose Self-Service, Easy-to-Use Tools

Your cost recovery is much easier when your internal staff can perform eDiscovery during billable hours. By adopting a solution that’s simple and easy to run, you reduce the need for additional external services.

6.  Standardize Through One Primary Vendor

The more eDiscovery vendors you engage with, the more complex things get – more contracts, more fees, more systems to learn. Look for a single self-model with lost costs, flexible storage plans, and easy-to-use tools to optimize your cost recovery.

Now that you have a better idea of what it takes to improve your eDiscovery cost recovery, it’s time to go a little deeper to understand the benefits of an eDiscovery solution that’s perfectly suited to help you earn more than you spend. Click here to request a demo of CloudNine Review and learn how to make your review process more profitable. 

 

Sources

(1), (2), (3):  2019 eDiscovery Billing Survey

Getting the Most out of Your Keyword Searches

Though a more basic searching technique, keyword searches allow professionals to identify one or two specific words from multiple documents. Nowadays, keyword searches are considered inferior to the successor, predictive coding (TAR). In comparison to TAR, the “outdated” search method is more expensive and time-consuming. Keyword searches are also less predictable; when filtering through the same data set, keyword searches yield fewer results. Based on these flaws, some would argue that keyword searches are a dying technique. So, why bother talking about them at all? Though keyword searches have their flaws, they are far from obsolete. Some legal teams prefer to utilize manual review, recognizing it as a tried-and-true method. For example, the defendants in Coventry Capital U.S., LLC v. EEA Life Settlements, Inc. attempted to use TAR in 2020 to resolve the fraud case, but they argued the process was “protracted and contentious.” Thus, Judge Sarah L. Cave declined to compel the inclusion of TAR. [1] Similar outcomes occurred in cases such as Hyles v. New York City (2016) and In re Viagra (Sildenafil Citrate) Prods. Liab. Lit. (2016). In both cases, the court refused to mandate the usage of TAR when the responding party demonstrated a clear preference for keyword searching. [2] With this knowledge in mind, it’s important to recognize that keyword searches are still effective when done right.

Five Tips for Effective Keyword Searches

  1. Good communication is crucial.

Consult your custodians before running your searches. Use the conversations to identify any specific terms or abbreviations that may be relevant to your review. If necessary, you may also need to speak with an experienced advisor. Through their expertise, they can assist you with the sampling and testing process. Advisors are a great way to save time and money for everyone involved.

  1. Create and test your initial set of terms.

Everyone has to start somewhere. Your initial search terms don’t have to be perfect. While constructing your list, estimate how many results you expect each term to yield. Once you’ve run your test, evaluate how the search results compare to your expectations. If you received significantly fewer results than anticipated, adjust the search terms as needed. You may have to refine your search list multiple times. Anticipate this possibility to avoid missing any deadlines.  [3]

  1. Limit searches that include wildcards and/or numbers.

When searching for words with slight differences, it’s better to search for each variation rather than use wildcards. For example, you should set up individual searches for “email” and “emails” instead of using “email*” as a search term. Numbers can also be a problem if not done correctly (i.e. searching for the number 10 will show results for 100, 1 000, etc.). Make sure to place the number in quotes to avoid this issue.

  1. Count the characters.

Search terms with four or fewer characters are likely to yield false hits. Short words or abbreviations like HR or IT may be identified in longer, unrelated results. Filtering out the false hits requires extra review time and money.

  1. Know how to search for names properly.

Avoid searching for custodian names. Their name will most likely be attached to more documents and hits than expected or desired. When searching for non-custodians, place “w/2” between their first and last name. Doing so will show all variations of the full name. Finally, consider searching for nicknames to get even more results. Ask the client what nicknames they respond to before making your search term list. [4]

 

[1] Doug Austin, “Court Rules for Defendant on TAR and (Mostly) Custodian Disputes: eDiscovery Case Law,” eDiscovery Today, January 12, 2021.

[2] “How Courts Treat ‘Technology Assisted Review’ in Discovery,” Rivkin Radler, March 13, 2019.

[3] “Improving the effectiveness of keyword search terms,” E-discovery Consulting, November 11, 2021.

[4] Kathryn Cole, “Key Word Searching – What Is It? And How Do I Do It (Well)?,” All About eDiscovery, December 9, 2016.

What Happens When You Don’t Have a Modern Data Solution?

Why a Modern Data Review Platform is Critical to eDiscovery

When legal professionals first incorporated electronically stored information (ESI) into their eDiscovery document review process, it opened the door for a variety of digital data types to be used in investigation and litigation. 

It didn’t take long for eDiscovery to begin taking in ESI like emails, documents, spreadsheets, databases, CAD/CAM files, digital images, and websites. These have remained the primary sources of digital discovery data used by legal professionals. 

However, as technology continues to evolve, new modern data types are becoming increasingly vital in litigation. These new modern data types fall under five primary categories, in addition to traditional eDiscovery: 

  1. Communication
  2. Computer/User Activity 
  3. Geo-location tracking (location tracking software)
  4. Financial Transactions
  5. Social Media

These modern data types have their own unique uses and their associated metadata allows you to create a chronological list of events and user activities so you can gain context where it did not exist in traditional discovery. 

Here are just a few examples of how it works:

  • By gathering data on computer activity, you’re able to see when individuals upload documents to Google Drive or download them onto thumb drives. 
  • Geolocation lets you determine where a computer activity took place so you know if they were at home, in the office, or at another location.
  • By using the metadata associated with different communication applications, you can track and document relevant dialogue between two parties as they carry their conversation from one device or application to another. 

With these additional data types, you’re able to tell a complete story through your legal review when combining traditional and modern data, in one unified eDiscovery platform

As more modern data forensic artifacts emerge, CloudNine is doing our part to help your eDiscovery team gain the context and confidence you need to solve your cases. Sign up to receive updates on our offerings here.

Reconstructing Digital Conversations To Unveil The Full Picture

In a modern data eDiscovery solution, you can do things that simply aren’t possible or are too difficult or costly to do in a traditional document review-centric platform. 

In a traditional legal document review platform, communication between two individuals would be collected and stored as individual documents. This means the context of the whole conversation including text before and after the individual messages could lose context in the conversation, leaving a void in the interpretation.

A modern data review platform allows you to collect data from multiple devices and applications including traditional ESI and loose files. By using the metadata associated with the collected data, you can select two individuals and review all communication between them in a chronological timeline. Now you have the context to perform the smartphone forensics and short message discovery you need to follow a conversation that began in Slack but transitioned to text messaging before concluding in WhatsApp.

Cell Phone Discovery: Reviewing Text Messages In a Modern Data Review Platform

Traditional legal review platforms are often inefficient when reviewing text messages. In a traditional platform, text threads are converted to PDF requiring each thread to be reviewed, text-by-text. In this case, five individuals in a group text messaging thread, means you’ll see the same message collected five times. This results in a lot of time and money wasted redacting large parts of the text thread, irrelevant to the topic. 

Smartphone data discovery allows you to filter duplicate messages, and remove 20-30% of the collected data.  With a simple click of a button, modern eDiscovery review allows you to select the text messages you want to advance and remove the irrelevant text from long or group threads.

Another challenge for traditional review platforms is the inability to maintain native formats for data. By relying on screenshots or PDFs, organizations using older platforms can fall victim to doctored images that could affect the course of the litigation. 

For example, in Rossbach v. Montefiore Medical Center, a plaintiff used screenshots of a text message to attempt to prove that her former employer had sexually harassed, then fired her. The message was allegedly sent to her iPhone 5 which cannot run an operating system beyond iOS 10. A forensics investigator examined the screenshot and discovered an emoji present in the image was a version not available until iOS 13 was released.

Modern eDiscovery review platforms capture text message formats (MMS and SMS) in their native format so there’s no risk of fraudulent or altered data in the review.  A unified eDiscovery platform will combine both traditional and modern data without creating documents from modern data sources.

Learn more about how your legal team can hit the eDiscovery bullseye with every data type with CloudNine Review here.

Why Organizations Are Hesitant to Commit to a Modern Data Review Platform

Some organizations are hesitant to adopt a modern data review platform because of their apprehension to change standard operations. They’re unwilling to change their review mentality from document-based to metadata-based or a hybrid of both.  After all, if it’s working, why change it?  

Many organizations are also forced to break-out their review processes among multiple platforms – one for traditional data like emails and Word documents and one for modern data like geolocation, social media and computer activity. 

In addition, there are some objections to native file production:

  • Retrieval of native files after initial document collection would mean additional costs.
  • Redaction is difficult or even impossible with some native file types.
  • Image-based productions are often accepted in court. 
  • Static images are equally useful for analysis and review of native files.
  • Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34 does not specifically require native formats.

However, as modern data types become more common and important, organizations are beginning to understand that using a traditional, legacy document solution to review modern data is becoming burdensome, expensive, and slow. 

How a Modern Data Review Platform Simplifies eDiscovery

Simply put, a modern data review platform like CloudNine’s ESI Analyst organizes your data more efficiently by using metadata to sort modern data types by recipients, senders, timestamps, locations, and computer activity. 

The data is then tagged under one of the following data types:

  1. Call logs and voice mails 
  2. Chat applications (WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, etc.)
  3. Email
  4. Corporate chat applications (Slack, MS Teams, etc.)
  5. Text Messages (SMS, MMS)
  6. Computer activity 
  7. Geolocation
  8.  Social media
  9.  Financial transactions 

In addition, with a built-in foreign language tool, you have access to more than 80 supported languages so nothing gets lost in translation.

While legacy document review solutions are limited to reviewing documents, they miss key data points like geolocation, financial transactions, and other pertinent data that does not fit in a document-centric workflow.  The CloudNine, integrated solution allows you to filter, search, tag, and review all data in one platform.  

Let CloudNine help you integrate a modern data review platform into your eDiscovery processes. We can train your case teams quickly so they’re up and running in 15-20 minutes. To learn more about how our modern data solution can make your eDiscovery processes more efficient, drop us a line

Four Tips for Successful Meet and Confers

When approaching any challenge or goal, it’s often best to start with the big picture before narrowing things down. By working backwards, you can identify the steps needed to achieve the desired result. This type of thinking can be applied to Rule 26(f) conferences (also known as meet and confers). As mandated by Rule 26(f) of the FRCP, both parties must meet at least 21 days before holding a scheduling conference. The purpose of the meet and confer is to discuss litigation details such as data preservation, privilege issues, the form of production, and expenses. To get the ball rolling, counsel can prepare a list of general questions: What data types need to be collected? How should the scope of discovery be defined? What pace is needed to meet court-established deadlines? General questions like these build a solid foundation for deeper inquiries and concerns. [1]

More Tips for Meet and Confers

  1. Initiate the conference early.

The meet and confer process is not something that can or should be rushed. Negotiation takes time, patience, and multiple attempts. Waiting until the last-minute benefits no one. Instead of frantically rushing to meet deadlines, schedule the meet and confer as soon as possible. Sometimes, counsel is hesitant to meet early because they feel that they don’t have enough information and prep time. Thus, in addition to meeting early, parties should also meet often. Multiple conferences allow the parties to fully understand and iron out the details.

  1. Identify and evaluate the accessibility of relevant data types.

Companies interact with a variety of data types on a daily basis – email, Facebook, Zoom, the list goes on. Producing each one would be burdensome, expensive, and unnecessary. Only focus on relevant data types that are proportional to the needs of the case. Companies also regularly create and destroy large volumes of information. Therefore, you must assess their data retention policies to determine what information is stored and where. Once that’s settled, consider whether the data types are too expensive or inaccessible for production.

  1. Walk in with the right mindset.

Compromise is impossible to reach without flexibility from both parties. At the same time, neither party should feel obligated to concede to all proposals. Meet and confers should be thought of as open dialogues. Discuss, debate, and engage in respectful arguments when necessary. Above all, cooperate by ensuring your suggestions are reasonable and proportional. [2]  If this aspect is a concern, consider hiring a discovery expert. Through their industry knowledge, experts can assess the opposing party’s discovery systems and requests.

  1. Understand your client’s data policies and systems.

Before heading into the meet and confer, try to gather as much information as possible. Ask your client if they have any formal information governance policies. If not, probe further to identify how and where their data is stored. It’s also important to identify the person or department in charge of storing said data. The client’s IT environment must be understood as well. Inquire about the quantity and locations of company computers. Additionally, request information about the company’s software programs, backup schedules, data custodians, etc. [1]

 

[1] Ronald I. Raether Jr., “Preparing for the Rule 26(f) Scheduling Conference and Other Practical Advice in the Wake of the Recent Amendments to the Rules Governing E-Discovery,” The Federal Lawyer, August 2007.

[2] Scott Devens, “Defensible Strategies for the ‘Meet and Confer,’” Bloomberg Law, Oct. 18, 2011.

Increasing Your Technological Competence, Part 2

Collaboration apps, forensic tools, and discovery software are just a few technologies that an attorney must juggle regularly. As old technologies update and new ones emerge, will you adapt or fall behind? At first, keeping up with these changes may seem impossible, but there are multiple steps you can take. Brush up on your knowledge by reading case law, eDiscovery blogs, and regulations on data collection. Learn more about the retention policies for popular social media and messaging platforms. Discuss industry news and trends at conferences or with colleagues. [1] The list goes on. In 2015, the California Bar committee weighed in on the topic, providing a list of 9 skills needed for technological competence. In part 1 of this mini-series, we discussed the first five skills listed by the committee. As the last segment on increasing technological competence, this blog will identify the final four skills.

Explanations of the Final Four Skills

  1. Engage in a competent and meaningful Meet and Confer with opposing counsel concerning an eDiscovery plan.

Industry knowledge and open-mindedness are the key to any successful Meet and Confer. If both sides lack these aspects, compromise will be difficult to achieve. For the knowledge aspect, lawyers must be well-versed in technical skills and ESI investigative practices. Technical skills are useful for resolving processing and production issues. Familiarity with the best practices for eDiscovery will also save you time, money, and headaches.

  1. Perform data searches.

Before conducting a data search, litigants must decide their search method: keyword searching and/or predictive coding (TAR). As the traditional approach for document review, keyword searches are often seen as the safer choice. Though filters and queries can be used to refine the searches, studies have shown that TAR is more effective and cost-efficient. In fact, litigants who opt for TAR over keyword searches save 50 to 70 percent in review costs. [2] Though both approaches can be used at once, the order of usage is important. In FCA US, LLC v. Cummins, Inc., No. 16-12883 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 28, 2017), Judge Cohn only permitted keyword searches after the TAR process was finalized. [3]

  1. Collect responsive ESI in a manner that preserves the integrity of the ESI.

While selecting the form of production, you must consider how the data and metadata will be presented. Typically, native files are preferred over static TIFF or PDF images because they preserve the document’s metadata. Though the requesting party may call for a specific form of production, the court can deny requests and issue sanctions for noncompliance. The integrity of the ESI is also impacted by the means of data collection. To ensure that the correct metadata fields (creation date, modification date, etc.) are shown, collect the evidence through appropriate forensic and eDiscovery software.

  1. Produce responsive, non-privileged ESI in a recognized and appropriate manner.

Through respectful communication and cooperation, parties must negotiate an ESI protocol that details production and review specifications. These specifications must include the required media types, format of production, and preferred review software. After agreeing on the most efficient methods and tools, disclose the negotiated discovery plan to the court. [2]

 

[1] Matthew Knouff, “How to Gain & Maintain Technology Competence — Element 1: Education — Part 1 of 3,” ESI Survival Guide, March 30, 2021.

[2] Hon. Joy Flowers Conti and Richard N. Lettieri, “E-Discovery Ethics: Emerging Standards of Technological Competence,” The Federal Lawyer, 2015.

[3] Doug Austin, “Court Determines TAR Without Keyword Search Culling First is Preferable: eDiscovery Case Law,” CloudNine. https://cloudnine.com/ediscoverydaily/electronic-discovery/court-determines-tar-without-keyword-search-culling-first-preferable-ediscovery-case-law/?pg=ediscoverydaily/ethics/increasing-your-technological-competence-part-2/

Increasing Your Technological Competence, Part 1

From the CloudNine family to yours, we wish you a wonderful holiday season! As a gift of knowledge, this article will focus on defining and maintaining high levels of technological competence. To effectively represent their clients, a lawyer must actively update their knowledge on legislative changes. The American Bar Association referred to this skill in Rule 1.1 as “competence.” The rule originally called for lawyers to possess the “legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.” [1] In 2012, the ABA expanded the definition through an amendment concerning technological competence. According to Matthew Knouff from ESI Survival Guide, 39 states adopted this rule in some form by March 2021. South Dakota, Rhode Island, Oregon, New Jersey, Nevada, Mississippi, Maryland, Maine, Hawaii, Georgia, and Alabama are the main exceptions to this trend. [2] Though Rule 1.1’s amendment laid out the framework, it didn’t provide instructions on how lawyers should build their technological competence. To achieve this duty, the California Bar committee issued an opinion, outlining 9 necessary skills. Since this opinion was crafted through examinations of federal cases, these skills could be applicable to various states.

Explanations of the First Five Skills

  1. Initially assess e-discovery needs and issues, if any.

In fear of the cost and rules of e-discovery, some lawyers try to avoid the practice altogether. By doing so, lawyers disadvantage their clients by missing out on relevant ESI. Instead of yielding to eDiscovery trepidation, conduct an initial assessment to determine the cost, timeframe, and data types needed for the investigation. Consider the value of the claims in comparison with the costs of processing and production. Determining which data types must be collected and how much time is allotted for the process. These examinations can act as a starting point in assessing the proportionality of the production request.

  1. Implement or cause to implement appropriate ESI preservation procedures.

To accomplish this skill, lawyers should acquaint themselves with their client’s IT setup. Once the preservation responsibilities have been established, clients and custodians should be informed with clear, written instructions. It’s important to follow up with clients and custodians to ensure that they are complying with the preservation requirements to avoid spoliation sanctions. If requesting ESI from opposing counsel, send a preservation letter that identifies what data should be preserved and where it can be found.

  1. Analyze and understand a client’s systems and storage.

Get familiar with your client’s IT environment and staff. It’s beneficial to request data maps of complex systems and speak directly to the IT staff. Through this knowledge and ease in communication, lawyers will gain a better sense of where relevant ESI may lie. After determining the location of the data, one can access how difficult and/or expensive it will be to access the information.

  1. Advise the client about available options for collection and preservation of ESI.

The scope and cost of preservation might be huge when dealing with larger companies due to their larger volumes of data and longer lists of custodians. However, lawyers should not concern themselves with burdensome collections unless the information is proportional to the case. During Rule 26(f) conferences, consult opposing counsel on the scope of discovery in relation to the costs of collection and production. If the parties determine that the discovery request is disproportional, seek guidance from the court.

  1. Identify custodians of relevant ESI.

After identifying the custodians who possess relevant data, categorize the list into two categories: primary custodians and secondary custodians. As the terms suggest, primary custodians have more direct involvement with the information than secondary custodians. To save money, counsel can decide to initially search for primary custodians within a limited time frame. If necessary and proportional, the search can be expanded to encompass secondary custodians. [3]

 

[1] Model Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.1

[2] Matthew Knouff, “How to Gain & Maintain Technology Competence — Element 1: Education — Part 1 of 3,” March 30, 2021.

[3] Hon. Joy Flowers Conti and Richard N. Lettieri, “E-Discovery Ethics: Emerging Standards of Technological Competence,” The Federal Lawyer, 2015.

Need a Data Retention Policy? Here’s How to Build One

Now that most industries are going paperless, companies must create a comprehensive data retention policy. The purpose of a data retention policy is to establish procedures for labeling, storing, and deleting electronic (and physical) records. [1]  Most companies acknowledge the need for a retention policy, but they don’t commit to creating one. A 2000 ABA study found that 83% of the responding companies had no established protocol for handling discovery requests. Despite this unsettling statistic, 77% of the companies expected discovery requests to increase in the future. [2]  Many reasons support the need for comprehensive retention policies. One of the most pressing reasons is the explosion of ESI in recent years. For instance, corporate email alone is estimated to increase annually at a compounded rate of over 13%.  Without a data retention policy, an organization in the midst of litigation would be responsible for organizing large volumes of data with little time to do so. By proactively developing data management policies, companies will avoid the pressures of looming deadlines. Ensuring that information is properly handled also minimizes a company’s risk for sanctions. [1]  The following is a list of steps and suggestions for developing a data retention policy.

  • Do your research on relevant laws

Certain state and federal laws mandate specific preservation and deletion practices. HIPAA and GLBA are older examples of ESI regulations enacted in the late 1990s. However, states are constantly reviewing and revising their ediscovery laws, so it’s important to stay on top of any legislation changes.

  • Determine when to archive or delete data

While corporations are not expected to store every single electronic document, deletions must be orderly and purposeful. The practice of strategically deleting unneeded data is referred to as “defensible deletion.” When done correctly, defensible deletion is cost-efficient, storage-friendly, and most importantly, legal. Defensible deletion is protected by Rule 37(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). The rule prohibits sanctions against electronic records that were lost during good-faith deletion procedures. [3]

  • Review how your data is housed

In this step of the process, it’s important to ask what, where, and how. What data types are being stored, and how should they be classified (i.e. social media, email, transactions)? What are the retention policies for each medium? What’s the purpose of preserving this information? Where is it being stored, and does this location need to be changed to a better one? How long does the data need to be stored in order to comply with applicable state and federal laws?

  • Monitor your policy

Regularly review your policy to ensure that your company is following its outlined regulations. If you notice that your company is deviating from the policy’s storage and deletion procedure, fix the issue as soon as possible to minimize any legal risks. Routine audits also make it easier to make policy adjustments as needed.

  • Assign accountability

Determine who will be responsible for enforcing the policy throughout the company. This person or department must be well-versed on the policy’s provisions, and they must be ready to testify in court about the company’s retention procedures. [2]

  • Limit your paper trail

Consider a provision that requires electronic copies of physical documents. Some companies are still hesitant to transition to completely paperless operations. Though this hesitancy is understandable, it’s recommended to save an electronic version of all paper records. This suggestion is merely that, just a suggestion. Completely converting to electronic records is not a mandatory step in creating an effective data retention policy. However, this step would speed up the process of identifying relevant data for litigation. [1]

[1] Carlos Leyva, “Data Retention & eDiscovery,” Digital Business Law Group.

[2] “Document Retention & Destruction Policies for Digital Data,” Applied Discovery, LexisNexis, 2004.

[3] Law Offices of Salar Atrizadeh, “Electronic Discovery and Data Retention Policies,” Internet Lawyer Blog, May 18, 2020.

Remote eDiscovery: Uncovering eDiscovery Best Practices From Home

When businesses and governments began shutting down due to the COVID-19 virus, it fast-tracked the slow and cautious transition to remote work begun by legal service providers

LSPs had already begun finding success operating in remote environments, using the cloud for eDiscovery data storage, processing, review, and analytics. 

However, it wasn’t until companies were forced to send their employees home to work that traditional legal departments and law firms began adapting to remote work environments. This led to finally upgrading, optimizing, and strengthening their infrastructure to accommodate this new normal. 

While this transition was a nerve-wracking experience for some, statistics tell us that remote work environments are not only possible but preferred:

  • 71% of companies have a new, positive view of remote work environments. (IDG).
  • 59% of remote U.S. workers would prefer to continue working remotely. (Gallup).
  • 69% of remote U.S. workers reported their productivity levels are the same or higher when working from home. (Citrix).

With a more productive eDiscovery solution, your LSP is set up for success. Learn about four other ways your organization can build value and boost margins in our ebook here.

The Benefits of Remote eDiscovery Tools

As foreign a concept remote working seemed to be, the benefits were obvious from the very beginning. Roadblocks were quickly reconciled, increasing efficiencies and reducing costs associated with eDiscovery

This was expedited by the realization that while personnel were becoming increasingly more dispersed, the eDiscovery data they were working with was becoming more centralized due to the cloud. Secured cloud environments allowed for a more efficient and effective workflow to collect, process, host, review and produce critical data. 

Other benefits of remote eDiscovery tools include:

  1. Lower-touch processes so you have fewer discoverable copies and less movement and enhanced control of data
  2. No geographical workforce restrictions so you can bring in the best people no matter where they live
  3. Easy scalability for near-instant provisioning or decommissioning
  4. Cost-effectiveness that allows you to shift from CapEx to OpEx

How Secure is Remote eDiscovery?

For some traditionalists, as well as others that are simply more cautious by nature, there’s a question of data security that has them hesitant to embrace a remote eDiscovery solution. However, there’s nothing to fear with the right eDiscovery solution.

Simply put, eDiscovery cloud computing provides a secured digital environment that protects the integrity of your data. To ensure this, there are certain security protocols your LSP must follow to guarantee your data security. 

  • Personnel should only use company devices or assets when working remotely
  • Data encryption must be used in transit
  • Multi-factor authentication must be deployed
  • Secured connectivity must be ensured for all employees 

With these protocols in place, your data is secure from all but the most devious and skilled cybercriminals. The only thing you’re missing is the perfect partner to provide a solution that makes sense for you and your clients. 

The CloudNine Remote eDiscovery Solution

Offering speed, security, and simplicity, CloudNine Explore empowers LSPs with a remote eDiscovery solution that allows you to investigate issues, assess risks, confirm compliance and begin early case assessment quickly and easily. 

More importantly, with CloudNine Explore, you’ll maintain the highest quality of data processing by leveraging these benefits:

  • Process as many as 1 million records per hour
  • Deploy CloudNine anywhere through a single workstation deployment
  • Easily scale up or down across multiple secured devices with mobile access
  • Effectively manage remote teams with powerful administrative and user controls
  • Remove bottlenecks by reprioritizing projects and reviewers as needed
  • Use deduplicate, filter, and search functions to reduce your data and hosting fees

Discover what CloudNine Explore can do for your remote eDiscovery team here.

Finding Value in CloudNine Explore’s eDiscovery Tool

CloudNine Explore gives you early visibility into the size and scope of your eDiscovery data so you can determine costs upfront. By insourcing your eDiscovery solution, you can cull data before you send it out, resulting in a significant ROI by:

  • Reducing costs associated with data collection, processing, hosting, and review
  • Mitigating risks by identifying problems easier and quicker
  • Opting to deploy on-premise or in the cloud

While most eDiscovery solutions only work with traditional datalike documents, emails, and spreadsheets, CloudNine now has the ability to work with modern data like:

  • Communication (texts, MMS, etc.)
  • Computer Activity
  • Geolocation
  • Financial Transactions
  • Social Media

To learn more about our modern data solutions, read the announcement on our acquisition of ESI Analyst.

By providing you with the ability to work remotely, scale quickly to take on more clients, or pivot for new types of data, CloudNine Explore allows you the flexibility to explore your options as an LSP so you can decide best practices for your organization and your clients. 

To see firsthand how CloudNine Explore can improve your remote eDiscovery solutions, schedule a free demo today.