The Complete eDiscovery Production Guide
Takeway: Get eDiscovery software that can handle the 7 stages of production: (1) Choose files to produce, (2) Choose the production format, (3) Arrange your files, (4) Number and stamp your files, (5) Redact, (6) Review, (7) Download and share.
How do you ‘produce’ eDiscovery files?
The concept behind ‘producing’ electronic files (Word documents, PDFs, email, etc.) is the same as with paper files. You’ll just need to understand some of the tech processes involved. So, here are the 7 steps to producing eDiscovery files.
Step 1: Choose files to produce
The quickest way to add files to your production is to use your eDiscovery software’s ‘tag’ feature. Tags are virtual ‘sticky notes’ that you can add to files, to help group them. You’d have used them for your eDiscovery ‘review,’ so now just click the relevant tags and all the associated files get added. You’ll also have an ‘invert tag’ function, to tell your software to not add certain tags. You can also manually add and remove stray files from your production.
Step 2: Choose a production format
Here are the 4 options you have when choosing a file format for your production.
Native productions: Here, you keep files in their ‘native’ (i.e., original) format. So, you’ll keep Microsoft Word files as files with the ‘.docx’ (Microsoft Word) file extension. You’ll keep Excel files as files with the ‘.xlsx’ extension. And so on. This way you’ll be able to see edits like comments, ‘track changes,’ etc. Plus, you’ll protect important file metadata.
PDF productions: The Portable Document Format (PDF) was created by Adobe in 1993. With native productions, you need specific software to open each file type. E.g., Microsoft Word for Word documents and Notepad for .TXT files. With PDFs, though, all files are converted into a common .PDF format. So the only software you’ll need is Adobe Acrobat Reader!
TIFF productions: The Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) was developed in the mid-1980s by the Aldus Corporation. And they are the original version of the standardized file format concept that PDF now represents. TIFFs were revolutionary decades ago, but nowadays PDFs are generally better than TIFFs.
A mix of native & PDFs/TIFFs: Most eDiscovery applications let you create a mixed production. So, you can produce some file types as PDFs & TIFFs, and others as native files. E.g., Produce all word documents as PDFs, but Excel and TXT files as natives.
Step 3: Arrange your files
You’ll now need to decide what order to list your files and their subfiles (e.g., attachments and ZIPs). Your software will give you a few options, like:
- Alphabetically by folder & file name
- Alphabetically by file name
- Date - Oldest first
- Date - Newest first
Step 4: Number and stamp your files
When you’re dealing with thousands of pages of electronic documents, you’ll need a way to track all the data in your eDiscovery production. For example, you’ll want to be able to refer to a specific paragraph on a particular page quickly. And you’ll often be dealing with multiple productions, each of which has identical page numbers for different documents. The solution?
- Bates numbering (or Bates stamping). Here, your software automatically generates a sequence of unique numbers (or a mix of numbers and letters) for each page or image in your production.
- Tags and custom stamps: In addition to Bates Number, you can stamp documents with either their tag (refer to Step 1, above), or with custom text.
The key here is that you have a range of options. So, your software should be able to:
- Stamp a page with multiple tags
- Hide select tags when stamping
- Change the names of the stamps
- Change where the page is stamped
Step 5: Redact sensitive information
Many of your documents will have privileged information that needs to be kept private. That’s when redacting comes in handy. Your eDiscovery software will let you place a ‘redaction box’ over text you want edited out. (You can redact entire pages, too.) When you’re in ‘preview mode,’ this redaction box will be translucent, so you can still read what’s under it. But in ‘final mode’, all the redacted text and images are completely removed, making them unreadable and unsearchable.
Step 6: Review your production
Now that your production is ready, you can go over it and make any last-minute changes. One simple way of doing this is to look at the ‘production log.’ The log is an interactive listing of all the files that are contained in the production set. You can see:
- The number of items in your production
- The Bates range and the number of pages in each document
- The native, deleted and redaction status of each file
- Original file locations in your case’s folder structure (you can click a file name to open its original version in your case)
Step 7: Download & share your productions
Once your production is done, you can download it as a ZIP file. Or, if you want to share the production with someone, you can send them a download link. Your eDiscovery software will generate this link for you, and it’ll also let you break the link at any point – which gives you complete control of your production’s security. Learn more about sharing productions.
Need eDiscovery software that simplifies productions? Try GoldFynch.
It’s a fresh, adaptable eDiscovery application with all the features that a discerning small-to-medium size law firm needs.
- It costs just $10 a month for a 1 GB case: That’s $25 less–every month–than the nearest comparable software. And hundreds of dollars less than many others. With GoldFynch, you know what you’re paying for exactly – its pricing is simple and readily available on the website.
- It’s easy to budget for. GoldFynch has a flat, prorated rate. With legacy software, your bill changes depending on how much data you use.
- 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 can handle even the largest cases. GoldFynch scales from small to large, since it’s in the Cloud. So, choose from a range of case sizes (1 GB to 100 GB, and more) and don’t waste money on space you don’t need.
- You can access it from anywhere. And 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the Cloud. And you can monitor its servers here.
- You won’t have to worry about technical stuff. It’s designed, developed, and run by the same team. So, its technical support isn’t outsourced. Which means you get prompt and reliable service.
Want to learn more about GoldFynch?
For related posts about eDiscovery, check out the following links.
- eDiscovery Overload: What to Do When Your Small Law Firm Has Too Much to Handle
- 3 Essential Vs Non-Essential eDiscovery Software Features
- Want to Bring eDiscovery In-House? 4 Things to Consider
- 5-Minute eDiscovery: How to Save Time and Money for Your Small Law Firm
- 16 Have-to-Know Questions to Simplify eDiscovery for Your Small Law Firm
- 8 Common eDiscovery Mistakes Your Small Law Firm May be Making