Myths about eDiscovery
Despite the prevalence of digital information in our daily lives, the legal community continues to struggle with a number of myths surrounding electronic discovery (eDiscovery). eDiscovery software can save legal professionals time and money. But some lawyers have misconceptions about eDiscovery workflows and technology leaving them susceptible to large unexpected costs, wasted resources, and potential embarrassment in court.
What is eDiscovery?
The procedure of gathering and producing relevant evidence for a case in an investigation or litigation comes under the legal process of discovery in the U.S. In today’s digital era, most of such information is present electronically as it is moved from folders and cabinets to servers, mobile devices, and desktops. In simple terms, e-discovery refers to recognizing and presenting the Electronically Stored Information (ESI).
eDiscovery is too expensive
Time is valuable and also, “time is money”. When considering any eDiscovery software, you should ask yourself how much your time is worth. If using an eDiscovery tool saves even an hour or two, that is money saved. One study found that, during litigation, it takes an average of 51 minutes for a lawyer to find a key document. If using an eDiscovery tool, the average drops to 16 minutes (that’s a 69-percent time savings).
Manual discovery means wrestling with a combination of PDFs, hard copies, Word documents, emails and a host of other different formats of documents. It means creating a privilege log by hand and keeping track of coding decisions. Data about each document – author, date, and so on – must make its way into a spreadsheet by manually keying in that information. By using eDiscovery tools, that same data, often referred to as metadata, is automatically gathered in one place and the creation of a privilege log can also be automated. Lawyers can also filter on the relevant data categories as needed and effectively search across all documents at once.
If you do find the discovery process expensive, complicated and time consuming, then it is at the very least worth investing an hour at the outset of the matter to consider the best way to approach the exercise. Even on the smallest of matters, investing an hour can provide considerable value as the matter progresses.
eDiscovery is too complicated
Any suggestion that eDiscovery software can be too complicated to use, is probably a fair assessment in the past, but not now. Most products are more intuitive and have improved the user experience – not dissimilar to other technology that is user friendly and easy to navigate your way around.
This myth might once have been true. But the past few years have seen an impressive improvement in the user experience provided by eDiscovery software. Ingesting a document can be ridiculously easy – just drag and drop, and the documents are immediately uploaded. Metadata, documents and images are made automatically searchable through indexing and OCR. While most eDiscovery tools offer training, some lawyers can get their production done without any instruction at all.
Metadata isn’t important
Truth – Metadata holds immense importance in eDiscovery since it provides you with the following file information, which is very crucial for a fast litigation outcome:
- The day it got created
- Name of the file
- The day it got last modified
- File’s location within the system
Dedicated eDiscovery tools include metadata as a load file that preserves the native metadata when reviewed. Unfortunately, a lawyer who is using, say, Outlook, for discovery can very easily alter the metadata by accident. Without the proper precautions, the simple act of pulling emails onto another computer can change the metadata. Uploading data to a cloud-based tool that isn’t specifically designed for eDiscovery can have the same effect and can even delete the metadata altogether. These alterations can constitute spoliation of evidence or prompt further discovery, ultimately increasing costs.
eDiscovery is only for big cases
Even a small legal case can easily generate thousands of pages. On average, 1GB of data can contain anywhere between 4,000 – 5,000 documents (more than two banker boxes) in various formats such as:
It could takes weeks to manually review 1GB of electronically stored data. Too often, when a lawyer needs a specific item in discovery, they need it yesterday. They don’t have time to be going through documents manually or to open every PDF to search each one individually. eDiscovery tools allow you to load and tag documents quickly, and to search across all of them easily. eDiscovery tools also support de-duplication and email threading, which are timesavers on cases of any size.
Every Case requires eDiscovery
Truth – This is not true at all since it all varies from case to case. There are cases where eDiscovery provides the main evidence, and then there are times when other evidence is of higher importance than the electronic evidence.
This concludes the fact that eDiscovery has proved to be of great help when it comes to supporting attorneys during their case research. Despite this, a lot of misconceptions have been prevailing in the market, making the adoption of eDiscovery a little harder for some attorneys.
However, with the above explanation of the truths, it is clearly established that eDiscovery actually makes the work easier for attorneys and is not a hindrance to their work. This is the only reason a large number of lawyers have started to use litigation services, and this number is increasing with the passing of each and every day.
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