Data collection and presentation have been giving most attorneys, or rather, their paralegals, quite a few headaches for the past several decades. Computers naturally exist to assist our every need – even those “case-sensitive” ones – and the slow-moving court system has finally integrated them into the discovery process. Good thing, right? But it still gives a few headaches. A bad program, or lack of a proper eDiscovery system can be your next big hurdle as a corporate or private practice owner.
The mass amounts of data involved in civil cases – especially those where there are multiple parties involved or class action environments – prompted a need for better data collection and presentation. The first electronic discovery tools came as a result of a need within the legal community to produce reports that not only contain all of the necessary information for a suit, but also to provide it in a manner understandable and consistent to the courts.
eDiscovery is the electronic portion of the collection method for electronically stored information (ESI). The origins of this tool began with the Zubalake case in 2004. The courts saw a need for more standardized reporting techniques that could be easily verified and held to a standard that any jury could trust. This naturally led to government contracting requirements and statutes, and, thus, a new industry sprung from a good idea. While it is not yet mandated, large firms with a need for correct data and a quick turnover will require these tools.
Moreover, in today’s world, most large firms will receive requests at some point for data – whether it be documents, emails, phone records, etc. This may be at the request of government entities such as the FBI, or even the IRS. If you are compelled to produce documents quickly and accurately, it is important to have eDiscovery and Document Management technology.
Data that passes through cloud computing and other internet resources is phenomenal – so much so that it is absolutely ridiculous to think that discovery information was ever collected manually or even through human aggregation. When a court or other government entity sends you a letter of request, you simply cannot place expectations on employees. While historic paralegal teams could mount a heroic effort and make it happen, the quantity of information and precision with which your opposition files will overcome even the greatest staff. This is especially true in the world of meta-data, wherein the courts want not just the primary data, but all information about that data. They want date-time stamps, data originators, file properties, et al.
Document Management tools make it possible to respond to requests in such a manner as to not produce fault in your firm. Today’s eDiscovery makes it possible to overcome the rigors of legal hurdles and regulatory stipulations.