Avoid the Ostrich Effect and Embrace eDiscovery Technology

Benefits of eDiscovery Technology

Most legal professionals have heard something about eDiscovery, ESI and electronic evidence. At least we hope so. It is now 2020 and the ostrich effect is no excuse anymore. With more technology at our fingertips than ever before, the traditional paper-based firm needs to accept our new reality = paper is just not going to “cut-it” anymore (silly joke—get it 😊 ). eDiscovery technology can greatly benefit the law firm.

So, what is ESI or electronic evidence, and how can eDiscovery Technology help?

In a nutshell, ESI (electronically stored information) is anything created by or on a computer or electronic device = emails, eDocs, spreadsheets, text messages, social media posts and so much more. This data can be located in a number of places, such as hard drives, laptops, servers, thumb drives, phones, and the cloud to only name a few (does my “smart” refrigerator count? Quick answer = YES it does!!). Unlike paper which can be boxed and filed, electronic data is constantly growing and, on the move, and in some respects is alive and should be handled with care (don’t forget to water those emails).

Consider email traffic over the years…

  • According to a study by UC Berkeley, there were 10 billion emails sent per day in 1998
  • By 2003 this number reached 61 billion
  • In 2019, there were 293.6 billion emails sent per day

As a result, the 2500 average number of pages in a banker’s box is an obsolete frame of reference. Instead, technicians in the eDiscovery space talk about data size; gigabytes, terabytes and beyond. A common benchmark is the gigabyte (about the equivalent of 100,000 pages of email). How is your firm reviewing those emails? Are you opening them in your own Outlook program? If so, STOP NOW…you are compromising your data. Are you printing those emails? Is that really the most efficient or the most cost-effective method for reviewing and producing eDiscovery? Is that the best that you can do for your customers and your firm? Quick answer = NO! Well at least not for your first pass review.

In order to print eDiscovery, it will need to be processed first. If you’re printing your entire collection of material, you’re paying to print junk email, spam, and non-responsive material. Then you have the costs to review that mountain of paper, and then scan and produce from that paper copy (remember these were all originally electronic files; processed, printed, scanned and then turned back into digital format – that’s taking the long, long way home).

How do you deal with the work-product issue and that banker’s box? How is redaction accomplished? Bates stamping? And production out? All important, but perhaps a later topic.

So, what is the total cost to you and your customer by printing emails and eDocs? The total cost in spend but also the valuable time, resources and energy. The database (eDiscovery technology) is replacing the traditional file room, cabinet, war room, and warehouse as the most appropriate location for a document review. An eDiscovery database is a scalable tool which can be used to review evidence, cull non-responsive documents, remove privileged material, and efficiently produce a subset of documents to opposing counsel.

Here’s more good news. The time spent using litigation support tools is an alternative source of revenue for the firm. Collecting, processing, and loading data is a billable expense. From your client’s point of view, the time spent reviewing electronic files in a database is similar to that of reviewing boxes of paper. However, the initial effort spent building a database with searchable objective and subjective information increases the speed and accuracy of the attorney review as the case progresses.

Cost control is also a hallmark of good electronic data discovery. A Law Technology News study in 2004 determined that over 70% of all emails are duplicates, therefore, by using the appropriate technology your firm will reduce the total amount of data to be reviewed and produced.

If the culture or size of your law firm prohibits the adoption of these eDiscovery tools and solutions, your friends here at Capitol Support can provide those technical services for you. You and your team can focus on winning the case and not doing the ‘button pushing’.

It is our hope that your firm can remain competitive and deliver quality client service throughout these changes.

From the trenches

Capitol Support Service

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