Microsoft Outlook Isn't Enough For Email eDiscovery. Here's Why

18 January 2024 by ROSS eDiscovery microsoft-outlook email

Takeaway: Outlook is great for sending and receiving emails. But for email eDiscovery, you’ll need specialized eDiscovery tools that only a dedicated eDiscovery service can provide.

Microsoft Outlook isn’t enough for email eDiscovery.

In today’s digitally driven era, emails are not just a means of communication; they are crucial elements in legal proceedings. So, it’s essential for legal firms, especially small and midsize ones, to handle emails skillfully. And this is almost impossible with Outlook.

That’s because eDiscovery emails come with a unique set of challenges.

Emails in eDiscovery are troublesome in the following four ways.

1. There are so many emails to review.

In many legal cases, particularly in corporate litigation or extensive civil suits, the sheer volume of emails is challenging, with lawyers sometimes needing to review tens or even hundreds of thousands of emails. This is a problem in terms of storage and analysis but also in the complexity of managing diverse formats and accounts. Emails frequently come from varied sources, each potentially using different formats and structures – which complicates organization and review. Further, with vast volumes of email, you’re more likely to overlook critical information, especially when vital evidence is hidden within seemingly irrelevant email threads. So, attorneys and paralegals have to pay extra special attention.

2. There’s nuance to each email.

Identifying emails relevant to a case becomes more difficult because you must quickly pick out connections and patterns within a mailbox. And this means holding on to every bit of context available. For example, you’ll need to preserve email threads because an email’s context often means reviewing entire conversation threads. So, mistakenly deleting parts of a thread would mean missing out on vital information. Plus, it’s not just about the words in an email. You’ve also got to recognize the tone and implied intent of emails and interpret what these nuances mean. And you’ll use this data to figure out more about the case and the parties involved.

3. You’ll need skilled reviewers.

Law firms often review emails manually, which means meticulously reading and categorizing each email. These manual reviews take time and sometimes result in human error. So, your reviewers need the right blend of legal expertise and technical proficiency. And it’s hard to find reviewers with this skill set.

4. Emails bring privacy and compliance issues.

You’ve got to stick to strict legal standards for emails you’ve reviewed to be considered admissible in court. This means ensuring that emails are collected, stored, and presented in a way that complies with these standards. And this includes protecting email metadata and establishing a proper chain of custody. Plus, if you’re dealing with sensitive information, you’ll need to navigate privacy laws and confidentiality agreements. This includes redacting personal information from emails and ensuring privileged communications are not leaked. Further, when dealing with cases spanning multiple jurisdictions, you’ll have varying legal standards regarding email evidence.

This is why you’ll need eDiscovery software.

Outlook is great for sending and receiving emails, but it can’t handle the specialized requirements of electronic discovery (eDiscovery). In contrast, eDiscovery software is specifically designed for this. Take GoldFynch, for example. It offers a comprehensive suite of review tools tailored to streamline email eDiscovery. And with its cloud-based infrastructure, GoldFynch is easily accessible – ensuring users can access their data from anywhere, at any time. Also, GoldFynch is secure, safeguarding sensitive legal information against unauthorized access. And it’s user-friendly, making it easy for legal professionals to figure it out.

Here’s a hypothetical case that eDiscovery software can help with.

Imagine a midsize law firm handling a complex contract dispute case. They’ve got to review more than 15,000 emails and hand-pick relevant evidence to defend their client. To complicate things, the emails span multiple accounts, years, and communicating parties.

eDiscovery services like GoldFynch offer tools to streamline this case.

This case brings all the usual eDiscovery concerns. The overwhelming quantity of emails complicates the review. The diverse formats and origins of the emails add to this complexity. And a looming deadline means the firm has to get a handle on things fast. Here’s where eDiscovery services like GoldFynch shine. Because they can help with:

  • Email management. GoldFynch excels in streamlining the email management process. When emails are uploaded to GoldFynch, the system deftly organizes them by date, sender, and recipient, creating an orderly and navigable dataset essential for dealing with the high volume of emails.
  • Advanced searches. Its sophisticated search functionality allows attorneys to perform targeted searches using specific keywords, phrases, and even Boolean logic, drastically reducing the time spent filtering through thousands of emails to pinpoint those critical to the contract dispute.
  • Tagging/annotating. The software’s tagging and annotation features are particularly useful. The legal team can classify emails according to themes and their relevance to different facets of the case and annotate important emails for quick access during discussions and court proceedings.
  • Preserving metadata. GoldFynch’s ability to read and utilize metadata means users can create a timeline of email communications – invaluable for tracing sequences of events and spotting potential discrepancies or breaches in contracts.
  • Email ‘production’. GoldFynch simplifies the process of Bates-stamping, a task that is essential yet painful with traditional tools. GoldFynch automates and eases this process and also allows users to share email productions with revocable access links. (So, you can cancel the link and lock people out if needed.)

So, your first email eDiscovery step should be to choose a reliable eDiscovery service. Our suggestion? GoldFynch.

An eDiscovery subscription service like GoldFynch comes with a bunch of attractive advantages.

  • 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?