6 eDiscovery Production Checks You Can't Afford to Ignore
Takeaway: There are many easily-overlooked production errors that can ruin your case. So, use eDiscovery software that can spot and fix the six most common errors to do with redactions, privilege, archives, native files, processing, and malware.
When choosing your eDiscovery software, you’ll want one with enough production options.
To ensure thorough and uniform productions, you’ll want eDiscovery software with a flexible production wizard. That means being able to custom select the files to produce, choose the production format (native, PDF, TIFF, mixed), arrange/order your files (alphabetically or by date), and Bates/custom-stamp them in one or more places.
But you’ll also want reliable error checks to confirm that these options work as promised.
Productions can get quite complicated, so you’ll want your software to run the following 6 production error checks.
1. Redaction checks to ensure sensitive information isn’t leaked.
Redactions are about more than just scratching out privileged text. For instance, you could use Microsoft Word’s virtual-marker tool to draw a black line through words/sentences or draw a black box over images. But just because you can’t see the covered information, it doesn’t mean it’s gone. And an expert can reverse these changes quite easily. That’s why most of the eDiscovery applications you evaluate will come with an inbuilt redaction tool to ‘burn in’ redactions. But do they also have regular redaction checks to ensure nothing unintended slips through? For example, what if you carefully redact an email’s attachment but then mistakenly include the original email in your production? (If you don’t catch the error, someone could re-extract the unedited attachment from the email.) Here’s where redaction checks can help. They’ll confirm that the original email has been replaced with a dummy placeholder – a placeholder with all the original text but without the extractable attachment.
2. Privilege checks to ensure that only authorized files are produced.
Your eDiscovery software will help you organize and categorize your files by tagging them. Think of tags as virtual post-its you can use to label documents. For instance, you might use a tag labeled ‘Important’ for pivotal documents or ‘Non-Responsive’ for once-promising documents that turned out to be dead ends. The idea is that you’ll need just a single mouse click to pull up all files with a particular tag – which is a huge time saver. Most importantly, you can use a ‘Privileged’ tag to group and protect private documents. But the tag alone isn’t enough. Your software will also need to alert you if any Privileged files (or their ‘ancestors’) get into your production. (For instance, if a privileged Word document comes from a ZIP file (its ancestor), your software must ensure the ZIP isn’t mistakenly produced. Otherwise, someone could unzip and access the untagged original version of the privileged document.)
3. Archive-file checks to keep out redundant information.
Archive files are ‘container’ files designed to group and store multiple documents. They’re a great way of compressing data (sometimes up to half its original volume), bundling groups of files, and/or encrypting private information. But as useful as these are for building a case, you usually won’t want to include them in your productions. After all, why waste space with the originals if you’re producing their unpacked contents? Especially if they might also have unredacted versions of sensitive files. That’s why the best eDiscovery applications will alert you of archive files in your productions so that you can confirm that they’re meant to be there…
4. Native-file checks to preserve evidence.
‘Natives’ are the original versions of all your files. For instance, Microsoft Word creates files with a DOCX extension. So, if you were to convert a Word document into a PDF, you’d be shifting away from its ‘native’ DOCX format. And you might lose some valuable information in the process (e.g., some user comments and annotations might not transfer to the new PDF format). So, to avoid this sort of loss in translation, your eDiscovery software should alert you of any production files that don’t have a corresponding native. This could happen, for instance, if the files were part of an imported load-file production without natives. (Note: You’ll want this alert even if the software goes ahead and securely produces those files in their image-only form – e.g., PDF or TIFF.)
5. File-processing checks to catch potentially-overlooked data.
Your software must do a bunch of behind-the-scenes processing to prepare your files for production. For instance, it’ll ‘extract’ your data by decoding it and plugging it into a database. (It’s these databases that help eDiscovery search engines find the keywords, names, dates, etc., you’re looking for.) And it’ll also do other things like ‘normalizing’ the data (to match the database’s format), compressing it to take up less space, and tokenizing it to isolate individual words. All these steps are essential, so you can’t review files unless they’ve been processed. And that’s why you’ll want checks to alert you of processing errors that exclude potentially-vital files. As a bonus, you’ll also be able to tidy up productions by removing these unprocessed files.
6. Malware checks to keep your productions secure.
Your productions are vulnerable to all the usual malicious software. For instance, adware can trigger unwanted pop-ups, viruses can corrupt your data, spyware can steal it, and worms can install sneaky backdoors for hackers to access your files. That’s why you’ll need malware detection checks to spot potentially-harmful files so you can remove them entirely or replace them with placeholders.
These sorts of production checks are important, but make sure they don’t get in your way.
The best eDiscovery applications run the above checks without interrupting your workflow. So, you’ll be able to move from error to error – making changes – or ignore them all and finalize your production.
Next-generation eDiscovery applications have other things going for them, too, though.
The best eDiscovery services aren’t just about smooth productions. Take GoldFynch, for example. We designed it specifically for small and midsize firms, giving it the following key features.
- It costs just $25 a month for a 3 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. 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 charges only for storage (processing files is free). So, choose from a range of plans (3 GB to 150+ GB) and know up-front how much you’ll be paying. You can upload and cull as much data as you want, as long as you stay below your storage limit. And even if you do cross the limit, you can upgrade your plan with just a few clicks. Also, billing is prorated – so you’ll pay only for the time you spend on any given plan. With legacy software, pricing is much less predictable.
- It takes just minutes to get going. GoldFynch 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 trial case (0.5 GB of data and a processing cap of 1 GB) without adding a credit card.
- It’s simple to use. Many eDiscovery applications take hours to master. GoldFynch takes minutes. It handles a lot of complex processing in the background, but what you see is minimal and intuitive. Just drag-and-drop your files into GoldFynch, and you’re good to go. Plus, you get prompt and reliable tech support.
- Access it from anywhere, and 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the Cloud.
Want to find out more about GoldFynch?
For related posts about eDiscovery, check out the following links.
- A Complete Glossary of Essential eDiscovery Terms
- A Quick Primer on GoldFynch’s eDiscovery Software
- How to Download eDiscovery Data Remotely Using ‘eDiscovery Collect.’
- A Free PST Analyzer to Check If Your eDiscovery PSTs Are Intact
- Use This In-Browser PST Viewer to Explore Your eDiscovery Emails For Free
- The Secret to Choosing the Best Low-Cost eDiscovery Software for Your Small Law Firm
- How To Make Your eDiscovery Productions Less Hackable
- Is Social Media the Future of eDiscovery?