eDiscovery Daily Blog

Why Process in eDiscovery? Isn’t it “Review Ready”?: eDiscovery Best Practices

As I’ll point out in tomorrow’s blog post (spoiler alert!), I’ve been asked a variation of this question for years.  But, perhaps the best answer to this question lies in Craig Ball’s new primer – Processing in E-Discovery.

Craig, who introduced the new primer in his latest blog post – the 200th of his excellent Ball in Your Court blog – asked the questions posed in the title of this post in the beginning of that primer (after the Introduction) and confronts a myth that many attorneys believe with regard to electronic files and how easily (and quickly) they can be made ready for production.  As Craig explains:

“Though all electronically stored information is inherently electronically searchable, computers don’t structure or search all ESI in the same way; so, we must process ESI to normalize it to achieve uniformity for indexing and search.”

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  In the Introduction, Craig says this:

“Talk to lawyers about e‐discovery processing and you’ll likely get a blank stare suggesting no clue what you’re talking about.  Why would lawyers want anything to do with something so disagreeably technical? Indeed, processing is technical and strikes attorneys as something they need not know. That’s lamentable because processing is a phase of e‐discovery where things can go terribly awry in terms of cost and outcome. Lawyers who understand the fundamentals of ESI processing are better situated to avoid costly mistakes and resolve them when they happen.”

Then, Craig illustrates the point with a variation of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) which extracts processing as “an essential prerequisite” to Review, Analysis and Production (while noting that the EDRM model is a “conceptual view, not a workflow”).

As Craig discusses, to understand eDiscovery processing is to understand the basics of computers – from bits and bytes to ASCII and Unicode to Hex and Base64 and Encoding.  How to identify files based on file extensions, binary file signatures and file structure.  Why data compression makes smart phones, digitized music, streaming video and digital photography possible.  And, much more.

Want to know how “E-Discovery” would be written in a binary ASCII sequence?  Here you go:


Craig covers the gamut of processing – from ingestion to data extraction and document filters, from recursion and embedded object extraction to family tracking and exceptions reporting, from lexical preprocessing to building a database and Concordance(!) index.

Yes, it’s technical.  But, a very important read if you’re an attorney wanting to better understand eDiscovery processing and what’s involved and why the files need to be processed in the first place.  Many attorneys don’t understand what’s involved and that leads to unreasonable expectations and missed deadlines.

Craig’s new primer is a 55-page PDF file that is chock-full of good information about eDiscovery processing – a must read for attorneys and eDiscovery professionals alike.  He wrote it for the upcoming Georgetown Law Center Advanced E-Discovery Institute on November 21 and 22, which you can still register for (and get a discount for, per Craig’s blog post).  My only quibble with it is the spelling of “E-Discovery”, but that’s a quibble for another day (you’re welcome, Ari Kaplan!).  :o)

So, what do you think?  Are you mystified by eDiscovery processing?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Sponsor: This blog is sponsored by CloudNine, which is a data and legal discovery technology company with proven expertise in simplifying and automating the discovery of data for audits, investigations, and litigation. Used by legal and business customers worldwide including more than 50 of the top 250 Am Law firms and many of the world’s leading corporations, CloudNine’s eDiscovery automation software and services help customers gain insight and intelligence on electronic data.

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