14 Aug 2012

The Emergence of a “Technology Assisted” E-Discovery Lifecycle

Posted in: Tuesday Trends No Comments

By: Andrew Bartholomew

Most people involved with e-discovery understand the typical stages of the process: identification, preservation, collection, etc. They are also aware of the generally accepted sequence in which e-discovery tasks are performed, as captured by the ubiquitous Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM). While many experts value the EDRM as a useful construct, they are beginning to recognize that advancements in technology are challenging traditional notions about the e-discovery lifecycle.

E-Discovery experts weighed in on this topic during a recent Exterro webcast, titled “Collaborative E-Discovery: Driving defensibility through transparency inside & outside the corporation.” Adam Wells, vice president of business development at TERIS, Brian Philipp, vice president of Discovery Solutions at LightSpeed and Joe Aakre, e-discovery solutions consultant at Exterro explained that with the latest technical tools, organizations now have the ability to exert greater control over the data they possess and, from it, gather better intelligence. Wells pointed out that the ability for corporate legal teams to assess data in-place, prior to collection, marks an important turning point in e-discovery.

“I work with corporate clients all the time who feel they are blind to a lot what’s going on with their own data both internally and once the data goes over the fence to a vendor or service provider and then outside counsel,” said Wells. “The key is bringing transparency and control back to the organization. In-place ECA (early case assessment) is a perfect example of that because the organization can work with their service provider and internal IT infrastructure and really start to assess the data before it goes over the fence.”

Technology allows organizations to learn more about their data prior to collection

According to Wells, once organizations begin to understand their data, they have the ability to run collection and review scenarios and begin evaluating potential costs and risks. This brings about quicker decision making, often prompting an early settlement or a meeting with the opposing side to negotiate more proportional discovery parameters. Philipp added that there are also benefits outside the e-discovery context. “The data can be searched constantly – even in an automated manner – to address more common corporate concerns related to things like employee misconduct, insider trading, compliance and regulatory matters, data leaks, fraud, the list goes on and on.”

In addition to in-place data assessment, the experts also agreed that technology has improved the ability for internal and external parties to communicate and collaborate during e-discovery projects. Aakre, who spent several years as a litigation support and e-discovery project manager, said he used to spend a quarter of his time each day just communicating with clients on the status of their e-discovery projects and addressing issues. Aakre said new collaborative e-discovery platforms function as project portals, enabling different stakeholders to communicate and access information whenever they need it, eliminating the need for constant, back-and-forth communication.

“If you’re working with an outside service provider, you’re able to get information reported in real time back into the application and know at all times what the status of the project is.” Aakre added that technology has helped to break down the traditional barrier between internal and external e-discovery activities. Internal teams are now able to have constant visibility over each stage of the process. The end result is e-discovery projects that are more carefully coordinated with fewer mistakes.

Watch the full recording of Exterro’s webcast “Collaborative E-Discovery: Driving defensibility through transparency inside and outside the corporation,” here.

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