When Litigation Hits, The First 7 to 10 Days is Critical: eDiscovery Throwback Thursdays
Here’s our latest blog post in our Throwback Thursdays series where we are revisiting some of the eDiscovery best practice posts we have covered over the years and discuss whether any of those recommended best practices have changed since we originally covered them.
This post was originally published on June 28, 2012, when eDiscovery Daily was less than two years old. This post has already been revisited a couple of times since and has been referenced in a handful of webcasts as well. It’s still good advice today. Enjoy!
When a case is filed (or even before, if litigation is anticipated then), several activities must be completed within a short period of time (often as soon as the first seven to ten days after filing) to enable you to assess the scope of the case, where the key electronically stored information (ESI) is located and whether to proceed with the case or attempt to settle with opposing counsel. Here are several of the key early activities that can assist in deciding whether to litigate or settle the case.
- Create List of Key Employees Most Likely to have Documents Relevant to the Litigation: To estimate the scope of the case, it’s important to begin to prepare the list of key employees that may have potentially responsive data. Information such as name, title, e-mail address, phone number, office location and where information for each is stored on the network is important to be able to proceed quickly when issuing hold notices and collecting their data.
- Issue Litigation Hold Notice and Track Results: The duty to preserve begins when you anticipate litigation; however, if litigation could not be anticipated prior to the filing of the case, it is certainly clear once the case if filed that the duty to preserve has begun. Hold notices must be issued ASAP to all parties that may have potentially responsive data. Once the hold is issued, you need to track and follow up to ensure compliance. Here are a couple of recent posts regarding issuing hold notices and tracking responses.
- Interview Key Employees: As quickly as possible, interview key employees to identify potential locations of responsive data in their possession as well as other individuals they can identify that may also have responsive data so that those individuals can receive the hold notice and be interviewed.
- Interview Key Department Representatives: Certain departments, such as IT, Records or Human Resources, may have specific data responsive to the case. They should also have certain processes in place for regular destruction of “expired” data, so it’s important to interview them to identify potentially responsive sources of data and stop routine destruction of data subject to litigation hold.
- Inventory Sources and Volume of Potentially Relevant Documents: Potentially responsive data can be located in a variety of sources, including: shared servers, e-mail servers, employee workstations, employee home computers, employee mobile devices (including bring your own device (BYOD) devices), portable storage media (including CDs, DVDs and portable hard drives), active paper files, archived paper files and third-party sources (consultants and contractors, including cloud storage providers). Hopefully, the organization already has created a data map before litigation to identify the location of sources of information to facilitate that process. It’s important to get a high-level sense of the total population to begin to estimate the effort required for discovery.
- Plan Data Collection Methodology: Determining how each source of data is to be collected also affects the cost of the litigation. Are you using internal resources, outside counsel or a litigation support vendor? Will the data be collected via an automated collection system or manually? Will employees “self-collect” any of their own data? Answers to these questions will impact the scope and cost of not only the collection effort, but the entire discovery effort.
These activities can result in creating an inventory of potentially responsive information and help in estimating discovery costs (especially when compared to past cases at the same stage) that will help in determining whether to proceed to litigate the case or attempt to settle with the other side.
So, what do you think? How quickly do you decide whether to litigate or settle? 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.
Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.