What Is eDiscovery? An Average Joe's Guide (I.e., For Non-Lawyers)

16 August 2023 by Anith eDiscovery

Takeaway: eDiscovery involves gathering, processing, reviewing, and presenting massive amounts of data for legal proceedings. And for this, the average Joe ideally needs a skilled attorney using a Cloud eDiscovery service.

We generate so much data daily – and it’s all a digital breadcrumb trail.

Our digital footprints get bigger every day with work emails, vacation-summary Facebook posts, texts sent to friends, etc. And all of these are digital breadcrumbs creating a vast trail of our activities. Now, consider the challenge of picking out one specific breadcrumb from this extensive trail to settle a legal dispute. This is where eDiscovery comes in.

eDiscovery, or electronic discovery, is a modern legal tool that helps attorneys navigate complex digital landscapes. It helps them gather and review relevant electronically stored information (ESI) for legal proceedings. ESI like emails, Word documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, metadata, and more. But eDiscovery is relatively new – evolving in the early 90s and 2000s when businesses started shifting from paper-based data to its computer-based equivalent. For instance, think of the Enron scandal of 2001, where attorneys used eDiscovery to analyze millions of emails and untangled a web of lies.

eDiscovery needs structure, though. And here’s where we get the electronic discovery reference model (EDRM).

eDiscovery is different from a simple keyword search on your browser. Yes, you will make keyword searches using eDiscovery software, but there are so many other steps to the process. It’s a carefully choreographed dance involving stages like pinpointing relevant ESI, protecting it from being deleted, collecting it, processing it, analyzing it for valuable insights, formatting it appropriately, and showcasing it in legal settings. (Learn more about the eDiscovery reference model [EDRM]).

eDiscovery is the great equalizer, ensuring all parties in a case have access to the same data set. And, when done right, it prevents anyone from intentionally hiding or destroying evidence. For instance, eDiscovery highlights evidence like emails or digital receipts in litigation, which can help in cases ranging from intellectual property theft to workplace discrimination. Similarly, it can establish a motive or debunk an alibi in criminal proceedings using breadcrumbs from texts and social media chatter. And in corporate probes, eDiscovery can uncover digital evidence through emails, chat logs, and more.

The average person comes across eDiscovery in three key instances.

For the average person, eDiscovery seems distant until it’s not. And there are three key instances when you might come across it. First, you might get caught in a lawsuit – for instance, a divorce. Here, you and your partner’s text messages or social media might be used in eDiscovery to unearth truths about infidelity or secret financial transactions. Next, you might come across eDiscovery in workplace conflicts, where company emails and chat logs might become the center of a disagreement or lawsuit. And finally, if your organization is probing internal issues like fraud (in corporate investigations), your stored digital data might come under the eDiscovery scanner.

Unfortunately, this can be an unsettling experience – so your first step should be to hire a skilled attorney.

Stepping into the eDiscovery spotlight can be unsettling because having your private communications analyzed and judged can feel intrusive. Also, the unfamiliar jargon can be confusing, the procedures long and boring, and privacy concerns alarming. That’s why you’ve got to hire a skilled attorney. They’ll demystify eDiscovery for you, walk you through what’s expected, clarify data-handling protocols, and provide you peace of mind about privacy and confidentiality. (They’ll strategically guide you on what data to disclose and the potential legal implications.)

But even the best attorneys rely on something foundational: reliable eDiscovery software.

For legal practitioners, eDiscovery isn’t just a tool – it’s an ally. It’s the magnifying glass that helps them spot the needle in the haystack. eDiscovery software platforms can organize a sea of data, detect patterns, search specific keywords, tag (i.e., label) pivotal files, and present the data in a suitable format. All this while ensuring your data stays unchanged throughout the process.

So, to truly understand eDiscovery, it’s worth trying out the software. And GoldFynch offers a free trial case to play with.

If you’re curious about the eDiscovery software your attorneys will use, consider exploring GoldFynch. It’s an affordable Cloud eDiscovery service designed for small and midsize firms. And it’s stocked with essential eDiscovery tools and bonus features. For instance:

  • It costs just $27 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 (our average response time is 30 minutes).
  • 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?