Managing a high volume of litigation is a fact of life for corporate counsel in most organizations today. With increasing data volumes and broader governance requirements across all enterprise data, the time required and cost of gathering, culling, and reviewing the responsive matter for electronic discovery has risen exponentially. IT support is burdened to find and restore the data, while outside law firms log large quantities of hours to review the often overwhelming volume of emails, files, etc. that have been tagged for review.
As a result, companies find that they spend an inordinate amount of money for outside counsel and that the lengthy collection phase wastes precious time and limits the legal team’s ability to assess the merits of a case. The volume and redundancy of the data, coupled with the need to involve multiple partners and vendors to cull and review the information, make containing litigation support costs and ensuring “litigation readiness” increasingly difficult.
As the world’s foremost data archivists, our commitment and passion for delivering the most reliable and secure platform for unified enterprise archival will remain unrelenting. To complement this commitment, we have augmented our solution offering with brand new or re-designed end-user applications to enable our customers to search, retrieve, and maximize their archive data assets. In our EAS 9.0 release, there was an extensive focus on our EAS Discovery application. Powered by feedback from a number of our top 2019 Am Law 100 customers, we implemented key feature enhancements to not only improve the end-user experience but significantly reduce the time litigation support teams spend executing early case assessment and processing during a case.
The Challenges of Electronic Discovery in the Absence of a Unified EAS Archive
If you have ever had to respond to a request for electronic documents, you know how challenging it is to collect, process, and find responsive data within the vast stores of email, files, and other content your organization generates as part of its daily operation.
In the absence of a unified EAS archive, searching through and finding relevant email and attachments in this mound of information takes time, and legal counsel must rely on IT support to access important data. The sheer volume of data makes the job for your IT department even more difficult because they must audit a variety of hard drives and server storage for the requested data, especially if you need to back up retention devices and perform tape restoration in hopes of finding older offline data.
Once the data is collected, the cost of using outside counsel to cull and review email documents is considerable. When factoring in the time spent by IT staff, legal teams, and any outside vendor services, many organizations are floored by the expense of electronic discovery.
As the same employees are often subject to repeated discovery requests, companies find that they often collect, process, and review redundant data sets. To make matters worse, once data has been culled and processed by a third-party, the search results originally returned by the source data are gone. As a result, organizations pay to process the same data over and over.
In addition to this redundancy, collecting related email data can be error-prone. Many times, corporate counsel must cull through unmanageable amounts of unrelated data, while bearing the risk that some important information was not found. All the while, corrupted data, and spoilation expose the organization to significant fines and sanctions.
The time-consuming nature of eDiscovery often forces corporate counsel to be reactive rather than proactive in their response to a discovery request or litigation. After all, the longer it takes to evaluate the merits of a case, the less time is available to develop a legal strategy. Negotiating discovery disclosure expectations with the court is made more difficult as well; no one knows exactly how many documents are involved. In other words, it is difficult to determine the merits of a case when you “don’t know what you don’t know.”
Control of the Process
It is critical to have a complete solution that automates the collection, preservation, and filtering of corporate data for discovery; provides immediate access to corporate email, files, etc.; and reduces dependence on third-party vendors, outside counsel, and IT support. EAS is the one-stop solution to confidently address these challenges, while also eliminating redundant data searches and reducing the risk of errors and spoilation.
In addition to reducing discovery costs, EAS Discovery reduces the time it takes to access email data and bolster your legal team’s ability to quickly assess the merits of a case before going into a full-blown legal process.
Culling Down Data
When your legal team starts their early case assessment to validate the efficacy of litigation, EAS Discovery delivers a fast and efficient platform to perform preliminary searches that will help to quickly rule out whether the case has merit or if your team needs to prepare for a full legal investigation. EAS 9.0 Discovery has been designed to deliver a simple but powerful end-user experience, empowering legal teams to run their searches without requiring assistance from IT.
Discovery searches can be performed on a variety of parameters including keywords from the body of messages, keywords from the subject line of messages, sender, receiver, attachment type, keywords from attached content, date ranges, and archive content types. Furthermore, end-users can utilize boolean expressions to string together combinations of the previously listed parameters for laser-focused search results. The efficiency of the discovery review process begins with the quality of the search inputs, and many organizations today underestimate the power of precise searches.
Advanced Search Builder
Historically, EAS Discovery required users to have knowledge of EAS syntax in order to properly input search terms to execute a discovery request. Fortunately, with our latest 9.0 release of EAS Discovery, we have introduced our all-new Advanced Search Builder to automate the discovery query generation, which enables non-technical users to facilitate the discovery process. The Advanced Search Builder provides a user-friendly interface that allows users to add a virtually unlimited amount of search terms to a discovery query, with the ability to easily modify logical operators such as “AND” or “OR” for each term in the query.
After using the Advanced Search Builder to input all of the desired search criteria relevant to the case, selecting “Ok” will automatically generate the corresponding search query in perfect EAS syntax. Not only does this alleviate the historical burden on IT administrators to input correct syntax in order to return legitimate results, but the Advanced Search Builder’s intuitive interface also allows IT teams to put the discovery onus back in the hands of their legal departments. This automated query generation time-saver is a must-use for all organizations looking to perform more precise searches in order to reduce the number of inaccurate results returned from initial searches.
Folder Structure Search
One of the most major enhancements to the latest release of EAS Discovery is the ability to perform a search and export on a custodian’s unique Outlook folder structure. There is no longer any need to perform an unnecessary global search across the entirety of your archived content to locate a single user’s data; rather, discovery users can now drill-down directly into a custodian’s mailbox to find the most relevant folders for a specific case. Discovery users can expand or collapse folders in a complex mailbox in order to find the desired information. Additionally, EAS allows discovery users to export a custodian’s mailbox while retaining folder structure for organized review. This functionality is immensely useful when it comes to performing a discovery request on a single employee or responding to a Data Subject Access Request [DSAR] under GDPR.
Tagging and Review
While not intended to displace legal review platforms, EAS Discovery provides feature-rich assignments and pre-review capabilities. Review queues, tags, and workflows are set up at the case creation. Tags are important, as they will aid the workflow of items through the workflow process. EAS has a few different types of tags: explicit, branch, and confirm.
When an explicit tag is applied to an item, it means that the item will have no further movement in the workflow. In the example below, the first step in our workflow would be a review to get rid of all obvious non-responsive matter data from the case. We have added explicit tags of “Spam” or “Disregard” to the queue. By designating these as explicit tags for this queue, any item that is tagged with these will not advance to the next workflow queue.
Branch tags, on the other hand, are those applied to items that require further examination in the workflow. In the example below, we have applied a branch tag of “Responsive.” You could also use a branch tag of “Expert Review,” that ensures that items added to the workflow queue will be reviewed by a subject matter expert.
Confirm is a special tag that is displayed when multiple levels of review occur for the same tag. In other words, you may have a workflow in which several work queues can apply a certain tag. This should be used as a quality assurance measure. After a reviewer in one queue applies the tag, another reviewer in a subsequent workflow queue may confirm their agreement with this tag by checking the “confirm” tag.
Tags can be changed or removed based on permissions assigned to the users. You may be thinking that some of this can be done in upstream review platforms. As noted, EAS is not here to replace these review platforms; rather, EAS will ensure you are only reviewing relevant data, saving your company thousands in review costs.
The RAND Institute for Civil Justice has estimated that each gigabyte of data reviewed costs a company approximately $18,000. Those per-gigabyte costs break down as $125 to $6,700 for collection, $600 to $6,000 for processing, and, in the most expensive stage, $1,800 to $210,000 for review. With EAS serving as your centralized archive repository, you will streamline your review collection, processing, and most importantly, review time and costs.
Export for UpStream Review
Now that you have performed your collection and pre-review of your data, you are now ready to advance the data through the review process. This is where EAS hands-off data for upstream systems to prepare the data for court readiness and legal productions. Exports are most commonly performed out to PST or EDRM load files. PST’s can be run on a per custodian basis and retain the Outlook folder structure. Furthermore, EAS provides a chain of custody report to provide the appropriate audit trail to substantiate the eDiscovery process.
Cost, Control, and Confidence
EAS Discovery allows companies to dramatically reduce the cost of outside counsel and significantly reduce the time needed to collect and review relevant data. To learn how you can take advantage of all EAS Discovery has to offer for streamlining your discovery process, contact your dedicated account manager today.