Electronic Discovery (E-Discovery) is a vital part of any modern-day legal process.
It is defined as the undertaking of gathering and identifying, collecting, and producing electronically stored information (ESI) when requested by a lawsuit or investigation.
What files are involved in E-Discovery?
With the majority of documentation being produced via electrical processes. ESI includes:
- Audio and video files;
- Social media posts;
- And websites;
To name just a few electronic file types. Not to mention that these formats all have their own variations that require bespoke software solutions.
It’s the sheer volume of ESI and electronic data that presents the most common complexity to e-discovery. In addition, another important element is the metadata attached to these ESI.
E-Discovery and metadata
With hardcopy documents and evidence in the past, unless the document was addressed or signed there was no way of validating who, when, and how a piece of evidence came into existence. But with digital, all this information is stored as metadata.
Digital files often contain metadata such as time-date stamps, author, and recipient information. In addition, they also include file properties. All this extra information helps with evidence gathering and compiling concrete arguments in a case.
Preserving metadata in its original state is required in order to eliminate claims of spoliation or tampering with evidence later in the case.
E-Discovery identification and filing
The most labour intensive process of E-Discovery is the reviewing and identification of the documents. Luckily, with the advances in technology, you can rule out near-duplicate documents and email threads, and rely on predictive coding.
But this being said, it can still take hours, days, or even weeks to completely review data.
Once the data has been reviewed and sifted through by parties on both sides, the evidence needs to be placed under a legal hold. This means that these reviewed documents cannot be modified, deleted, or erased.
Then, data is consolidated, extracted, indexed, and placed on to secure servers.
At this time, data is made accessible to the reviewers who now do a thorough review and analysis of the evidence to cull and separate non-relevant documents.
This storage of evidence is also part of the e-discovery processes and is a service we offer at LexTrado.
Now that the evidence has been filed, it’s time for the counsel to produce them. Documents need to be converted to a static, digital format such as TIFF or PDFs.
These files also make possible redactions and edits with regards to non-relevant information.
Utilising the best software possible and computer-assisted review (CAR) processes, also referred to as technology-assisted reviews (TAR), predictive coding reduces the number of documents to review as it prioritizes the data you need.
And streamlining processes means less time is needed, cutting down costs.
At the end of the day, the goal of e-discovery is to deliver core evidence, ready for the litigation in a defensible manner, quickly and cost-efficiently.
If you need help with your E-Discovery processes, feel free to contact us here.