16 Have-to-Know Questions to Simplify eDiscovery for Your Small Law Firm

27 August 2018 by Anith Mathai eDiscovery small-law-firm

Ask the right questions and eDiscovery stops being intimidating. Here’s how to approach collecting, uploading, processing, searching, tagging, redacting and producing your eDiscovery files.

eDiscovery doesn’t have to be intimidating.

You just need to approach it right:

  1. Learn what eDiscovery is about
  2. Learn about its stages
  3. Break down each stage and ask the right questions. Begin with the following…

When collecting your eDiscovery data, ask:

1. How much data will there be? What applications will you need to access this data? Especially unusual files like voice mail, text messages, social media posts, etc.

2. Where is the data stored? Is some of it on personal computers? Is there an archive?

3. How am I going to preserve your data? When will you start preserving data? Who is in charge? Who do you need to notify? Is there a data-retention protocol? Do you need a preservation/protection order? Is there a chain-of-custody?

4. Am I going to back up data, in case it gets lost later on? Or in case its metadata gets altered? What backup protocols are there?

5. How long will eDiscovery take? I.e., to collect, review, redact, and produce your data? How will you make sure you meet your deadlines?

When uploading your eDiscovery files, ask:

6. Am I going to scan paper documents and upload them? If so, remember that scanned documents have text, but to a computer they are ‘pictures’ of text. So, you’ll need Optical Character Recognition (OCR) – a software tool that converts scanned documents into text files that a computer can process. So, instead of just being ‘pictures’ that sit on your computer, you can actually work with them. Learn more about OCR.

7. How will I handle duplicate files? Many lawyers estimate that up to 50% of their files are duplicates. For example, a colleague emails you a file that you already have. That’s an ‘exact’ duplicate. Or, you correct a few typos in a Word document and save it as a different file. This is a ‘near’ duplicate. It’s basically the same file, but not quite. Can your eDiscovery application save you time by spotting and deleting these duplicate files?

8. How will I open my files? Do you have all the required applications? Can your eDiscovery application handle all the files, instead? That would save you time.

9. How will I protect my metadata? Metadata is a digital footprint that tracks the history of the document. It can help you win cases but is damaged easily. You can destroy metadata just by opening a file or forwarding an email. So, learn how to protect metadata.

When searching your case, ask:

10. What are my search terms? A keyword search is the simplest type of search you can make. Here, you’re looking for a specific keyword or phrase. Like a name, date, or topic. Figure out your search terms and test them early, to avoid wasting time and money.

11. Can my eDiscovery software handle advanced searches? With more advanced searches, you’ll use keyword combinations and the search gets very specific. Advanced searches use complex equations. But with the right software, they can be simple and intuitive.

12. What is the ‘story’ of my case? The point of any search is to help you build a compelling case. And for that, you need to stay with the story of your case. That is: What happened? When and how? Who is involved? What did they do? How are they connected to each other? Why did things happen the way they did? And what were the motives? The story isn’t something you finish with and then move on. As you explore your case and speak to clients and opposing counsel, you’ll get new information that might change the story. So, keep refining it and use it to stay on track. If you let the technicalities of ‘searching’ hijack your attention, you’ll often end up looking for the wrong things. And will realize this too late—when you’re preparing for trial. Learn more about the ‘story’ of your case.

When tagging, redacting, and producing documents, ask:

13. Does my software have a proper tagging system? You’ll want to tag files to make it easy to organize and order them. So, your software should offer single-click tagging options.

14. How will I redact privileged information? Or Bates stamp productions? Can your eDiscovery application do these?

15. What ‘production’ format will I be using? Remember that if you convert documents into TIFFs (image files) and PDFs, you may lose important metadata.

16. How will I share my productions? If you download and mail/email them, there’s a risk they’ll go to the wrong people (e.g., your email application autocorrects the ‘to’ address by mistake). The smarter option is to use eDiscovery software that lets you share productions directly. That way you can invalidate the link at any point.

Looking for affordable eDiscovery software? Try GoldFynch.

It’s a next-generation eDiscovery application that prioritizes things that matter to small law firms.

  • Pay just $27 per month for a basic 3 GB case. That’s significantly less—every month—than the nearest comparable software. And hundreds of dollars cheaper than many others. GoldFynch’s pricing is transparent and readily available on the website.
  • It’s a flat, prorated rate. So it’s simple to budget for it. With legacy software, the billing is complicated and opaque, and your bill changes depending on how much data you use.
  • Got a small case that might become a large one later? GoldFynch scales from small to large. So, choose from a range of case sizes (3 GB to 150 GB, and more) and don’t waste money on space you don’t need. Plus, you don’t need to pay to ‘unlock’ premium features. You’ll have the full power of GoldFynch even with a starter case.
  • It takes just minutes to get going. It runs in the Cloud, so you use it through your web browser (Google Chrome recommended). No installation. No sales calls or emails. Plus, you get a free, fully-functional trial case (0.5 GB of data and processing cap of 1 GB), without adding a credit card.
  • It has all the features you need: Automatic deduplication, OCR, and Bates stamping. Plus it reads all file types, has an advanced search engine, and you can share productions from within the application.
  • You get the best technical support: It’s designed, developed and run by the same team. So, the technical support isn’t outsourced. Which means prompt and reliable service.

Want to find out more?

For more about eDiscovery for small law firms, check out these articles.