Handle Any eDiscovery Production Request With These Key Tools
Takeaway: You can match a wide range of production requests simply by choosing the right eDiscovery software. And for most small and midsize firms, this means software with 6 key tools/features: Remote data collection, a search engine, eDiscovery ‘tags,’ reliable redaction, Bates stamping, and metadata protection.
Production requests help you collect various types of valuable case data.
eDiscovery production requests allow you to collect and inspect case-related evidence from another party. Usually, this means collecting documents but it might also include items like photographs, videos, audio files, etc. – either as copies or as originals.
Ideally, you’ll want incoming production requests to be clear and specific. But that’s a luxury you often won’t get.
A well-prepared attorney makes very specific requests, clearly outlining the particular evidence they want, how they’d like you to send it, and the date/time before which they’ll need it. Even if they can’t list the exact files, they’ll describe the general categories of documents they’re interested in. And they’ll always specify a transfer method: Thumb drive, Dropbox transfer, email link, etc. But things aren’t always this straightforward. Sometimes, you’ll get a request that’s vague (e.g., ‘Produce the documents we discussed last month’), too broad (e.g., ‘Produce all recent contracts’), or irrelevant (e.g., ‘Produce all employee contracts’ for a case involving an unconnected intellectual property issue).
So, there will be instances where you can’t comply.
Here are some of the more common instances where you’ll need to object to the request.
- The documents requested have never existed. E.g., you’re requested to share employee litigation records but your client doesn’t store that information.
- The documents existed but you don’t have them anymore. E.g., Your client stores litigation records but only for a predefined period. So, they were deleted years ago.
- You can only produce a few of the requested items. E.g., Your client might have the relevant litigation records but a random system error deleted some of the documents.
You’ll face challenges even if you can fully comply, though. For instance, you’ll need a way to collect data.
Even if the request is feasible, you might still have trouble collecting all the relevant data. For example, clients may put off sharing files even after you’ve reminded them multiple times. Here, an eDiscovery collection service can help. These services offer remote collection tools that let you gather files directly from your client’s Cloud storage (e.g., Dropbox, OneDrive, etc.). These services set up a temporary ‘collection’ space on their servers to which you can first import your client’s files and then download them when you’re ready. So, you get to take the initiative when clients aren’t quick to respond, but they’re still in control of which Cloud folders you can access.
Next, you’ll need a way of reviewing the files you collect.
You’ll want to explore your client’s files to choose the ones that fulfill the incoming production request. But the files will usually be an assortment of PDFs, emails, Word documents, etc., that open with different parent applications – which means you’re constantly switching between Adobe, Outlook, Word, etc. Here’s when an eDiscovery application can help by converting all your files into a common format and opening them in the same browser. I.e., you’ll be able to cycle through dozens of different formats without having to keep switching software. Further, the best eDiscovery applications have powerful search engines that can help you search for keywords, names, dates, email addresses, and more. Learn more about eDiscovery searches.
You’ll also need to organize files around common themes.
Incoming production requests usually ask for common categories of files organized around specific file types (e.g., ‘Produce all emails from February 2020’) or themes (e.g., ‘Produce all files to do with the Anderson Merger’). eDiscovery tags can help with this. Think of them as virtual Post-Its you can use to label and group similar files without changing their contents. Examples of default tags are Privileged, Non-Responsive, Irrelevant, Important, and Confidential. These defaults and the custom tags you create can help you pull up entire batches of files for review or production – all with just a few mouse clicks. Learn more about tags.
If your files have sensitive information, you’ll need a reliable redaction tool, too.
With most productions, you’ll likely need to redact sensitive information like Social Security Numbers, medical information, and passwords. But this is trickier than you’d think. With paper documents, you can redact private information by drawing a black marker line through it. But the ‘black marker’ tool in word processing applications don’t work the same way. They might look like they’re blacking out text on your screen but an expert can easily reverse the process, revealing what’s underneath. This is why you’ll need a reliable redaction tool to scrub sensitive information permanently. Learn more about eDiscovery redactions.
Once you’ve organized and redacted your files, you’ll want to Bates stamp them.
Bates numbers are still a very convenient way of tracking produced files. They’ll help you keep documents in order, link them to each individual production requests and prove at trial that you’ve produced the relevant data. Further, modern Bates number formats are flexible enough to span even the largest cases. (A sample Bates number format like CompanyName_ProductionNumber - CompanyName_PageNumber. So, a company like Amazon would produce Bates numbers like Amazon_000003-Amazon_000300.) That’s why a Bates stamping tool is a must-have. Learn more about Bates numbering.
Finally, you’ll need to protect your production metadata.
Sharing files can be tricky because you could mistakenly modify vital file metadata – I.e., information about a file like when it was created, who created it, and when it was last opened. This metadata is everywhere, linked to any electronically stored information (e.g., spreadsheets, PDFs, Word files, etc.), and it’s a digital footprint tracking the history of a document. Unfortunately, it’s easy to destroy metadata (e.g., you’ll destroy some metadata fields just by copying a file), so you’ll need a metadata-friendly tool to create productions. Additionally, your software should let you choose a production format (e.g., native, PDF, TIFF) depending on how much metadata you need to preserve.
Finding all these individual tools might seem daunting. But it’s effortless when you use the right eDiscovery software.
Most eDiscovery applications come loaded with all the tools we’ve covered, and the better ones help you switch seamlessly between them. For example, GoldFynch is an eDiscovery subscription service designed to simplify every aspect of eDiscovery – productions included. But it’s got more going for it, too. For instance:
- It costs just $25 a month for a 3 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. With GoldFynch, you know exactly what you’re paying for: 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
- 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?
- 7 Basic eDiscovery Concepts Every Attorney Should Know