By Tim Rollins
Author’s Note: In this series, we’re interviewing e-discovery professionals to understand what a typical day (if such a thing exists) looks like for them. The days portrayed in these articles are a composite of the tasks performed, conversations held, and meetings attended, and give others a sense of the way more experienced e-discovery practitioners structure their professional life. Today we’re looking at a day in the life of Christa Haskins, CEDS, E-Discovery/ESI Support Manager at Becton Dickinson.
For the last year or so, we’ve been implementing our e-discovery technology, so on any given day, implementation tasks were top of mind for me. How were we connecting our in-house e-discovery solution to all of our data sources and other tools to make them all work together, like our matter management tool or our HR tool? If it’s a day where I’m focused on implementation-related tasks, I’ll determine who are the internal stakeholders and subject matter experts, and how do I connect them with our vendor to get things set up.
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Becton Dickinson has in the neighborhood of 100 different active legal holds at any given time. So I could be involved in anything from supporting our litigation managers on getting their legal holds out, actively collecting data, or applying in-place preservation to ensure that holds are being maintained. In these situations, I’m acting as a technology administrator, providing support to its users, and also actively using the software to preserve and collect data.
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One of the goals of having in-house e-discovery tools is to reduce the amount of data we send out as much as possible, so before we even collect data, we’re having conversations with outside counsel so we can determine the list of custodians, the date range, the search terms. That way we’ve already culled out quite a bit of data at the collection stage. I’m also coordinating our activities without our hosting and managed review firm—so getting proposals, transferring data, setting up project calls, and creating document review protocols.
When we issue legal holds, we’re working with outside counsel, but we’re also working with people in the business to determine who is involved in a given matter. If it’s a product issue, we’ll want to know who was on the product team, maybe the sales team, the marketing team, and the finance team involved with that matter. We can also use the tool to do some of that due diligence. We have our HR data fed into the system, so once we get some input from the people in the business, we can use the data that’s in the tool to further refine our search. We don’t have to search manually, one by one, for each and every custodian. We have a pretty significant litigation profile, and it’s not uncommon for us to have 400 to 500 people on legal hold. Being able to search within a specific division or group is really helpful. We may also conduct interviews with custodians to determine if there are additional folks who need to be added as well.
We have five litigation managers at BD, who are the primary users of the software. We hold a monthly users group meeting, so throughout the course of the month, I track all of the questions I field from them so I can share that information when we meet as a group. If one of the team members has a question, sooner or later another user will probably encounter the same issue. I also monitor all our legal hold activities through the month, so I can review any areas for improvement or address any deviations from our standard process. since preservation activity and the legal hold notifications are all determined by choices that our litigation managers make, it’s important that everyone is aware of the implications of their choices and how they ultimately fit into the process.
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Once we’ve completed collection, I’m trying to figure out the smallest subset possible to send downstream for hosting and ultimately our outside counsel. We preserve broadly, but then create those filters with our counsel to narrow down the amount collected. But once the data has been collected, there are additional mechanisms we can use to reduce what we send out. We look at domain names, for example. We can get rid of data that corresponds to domains that don’t pertain to a legal matter—say something that comes from an airline or an online retailer. I document these data reductions, as they are metrics I report on. They really justify the existence of e-discovery tools and document the ROI that we’re getting for our investment in technology. Then I’ll look at the ESI a little more closely. Who's corresponding with whom? Can we focus our search and limit it to certain parties? Or maybe we don't limit it to specific parties, but we can eliminate other parties. So, there's always mechanisms to further reduce the data once it's there in the tool.
A good day is one in which we were able to successfully issue a legal hold, apply preservation, collect data, and see a significant reduction in the amount of data that we collect—and being able to accomplish these goals efficiently and defensibly. The keys for us are a balance of tools, team, and process. We have great tools in place, both in-house and with our third-party vendors. And process is important. We’ve conditioned our teams to be thinking about specific things that we can incorporate into our already developed process. We nail down the list of custodians, the dates, and the search terms before we begin our collection activities, and that creates efficiencies. And our team members, both in-house and third-party providers, are dedicated to our account, and they’re familiar with our tools and process, which makes a big difference in terms of repeatability and defensibility.
Stay tuned to our blog for our next article in this series, which will go live on Monday, January 21st.