eDiscovery Daily Blog

eDiscovery Best Practices: Preparing Your 30(b)(6) Witnesses


When it comes to questions and potential issues that the receiving party may have about the discovery process of the producing party, one of the most common and direct methods for conducting “discovery about the discovery” is a deposition under Federal Rule 30(b)(6). This rule enables a party to serve a deposition notice on the entity involved in the litigation rather than an individual. The notice identifies the topics to be covered in the deposition, and the entity being deposed must designate one or more people qualified to answer questions on the identified topics.

While those designated to testify may not necessarily have day-to-day responsibility related to the identified topics, they must be educated enough in those issues to sufficiently address them during the testimony. Serving a deposition notice on the entity under Federal Rule 30(b)(6) saves the deposing party from having to identify specific individual(s) to depose while still enabling the topics to be fully explored in a single deposition.

Topics to be covered in a 30(b)(6) deposition can vary widely, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. However, there are some typical topics that the deponent(s) should be prepared to address.

Legal Hold Process: Perhaps the most common area of focus in a 30(b)(6) deposition is the legal hold process as spoliation of data can occur when the legal hold process is unsound and data spoliation is the most common cause of sanctions resulting from the eDiscovery process.  Issues to address include:

  • General description of the legal hold process including all details of that policy and specific steps that were taken in this case to effectuate a hold.
  • Timing of issuing the legal hold and to whom it was issued.
  • Substance of the legal hold communication (if the communication is not considered privileged).
  • Process for selecting sources for legal hold, identification of sources that were eliminated from legal hold, and a description of the rationale behind those decisions.
  • Tracking and follow-up with the legal hold sources to ensure understanding and compliance with the hold process.
  • Whether there are any processes in place in the company to automatically delete data and, if so, what steps were taken to disable them and when were those steps taken?

Collection Process: Logically, the next eDiscovery step discussed in the 30(b)(6) deposition is the process for collecting preserved data:

  • Method of collecting ESI for review, including whether the method preserved all relevant metadata intact.
  • Chain of custody tracking from origination to destination.

Searching and Culling: Once the ESI is collected, the methods for conducting searches and culling the collection down for review must be discussed:

  • Method used to cull the ESI prior to review, including the tools used, the search criteria for inclusion in review and how the search criteria was developed (including potential use of subject matter experts to flush out search terms).
  • Process for testing and refining search terms used.

Review Process: The 30(b)(6) witness(es) should be prepared to fully describe the review process, including:

  • Methods to conduct review of the ESI including review application(s) used and workflow associated with the review process.
  • Use of technology to assist with the review, such as clustering, predictive coding, duplicate and near-duplicate identification.
  • To the extent the process can be described, methodology for identifying and documenting privileged ESI on the privilege log (this methodology may be important if the producing party may request to “claw back” any inadvertently produced privileged ESI).
  • Personnel employed to conduct ESI review, including their qualifications, experience, and training.

Production Process: Information regarding the production process, including:

  • Methodology for organizing and verifying the production, including confirmation of file counts and spot QC checks of produced files for content.
  • The total volume of ESI collected, reviewed, and produced.

Depending on the specifics of the case and discovery efforts, there may be further topics to be addressed to ensure that the producing party has met its preservation and discovery obligations.

So, what do you think?  Have you had to prepare 30(b)(6) witnesses for deposition?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine Discovery. eDiscoveryDaily is made available by CloudNine Discovery solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscoveryDaily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.