E-discovery has played a key role in litigation for nearly two decades. During that time, both the industry and the technology behind it have evolved, and professionals have gained a better understanding of common terms and procedures. Despite being a well-established industry, however, many corporations still treat e-discovery like a fire drill. This means companies that encounter frequent litigation take an ad-hoc approach to the e-discovery process—handling it differently for every case—which results in business disruption, increased costs, and greater risks. But there’s a better way.
With the right technology and processes in place, you can transform the traditional chaotic approach to e-discovery into a smooth, regular business practice.
Create an e-discovery playbook.
Some people are planners, others are more spontaneous. However, there is no room for a loose, unpredictable approach in e-discovery. You need plan, like an e-discovery playbook, which contains step-by-step instructions for handling a case from the moment it arises. It identifies a manager or supervisor to oversee the e-discovery process and ensures the procedure is consistent time and again.
It also helps you address questions such as:
- How and where is data stored within the organization?
- How are legal holds handled?
- Who oversees targeted data collections?
With this playbook in place, e-discovery will no longer cause major business disruption, and over time, it will generate new efficiencies as the process is repeated over and over.
Know when to use TAR.
For companies that have been involved in e-discovery before, they are likely familiar with the practice of using technology-assisted review (TAR). TAR can be a valuable tool in the e-discovery process, as it can help reduce the time and energy it takes to review relevant data. But depending on the types of data being reviewed, TAR may not be the right solution. In fact, using TAR on certain kinds of data, such as spreadsheets, can make the review process more challenging and less effective.
Understanding this upfront and addressing it in your e-discovery playbook will help you quickly identify when TAR is the right resource for your case and when it’s not.
Develop a standard for first-round document review.
Document review is typically the most expensive and time-consuming process of e-discovery, but it’s also extremely necessary.
Many companies decide, typically in the middle of a case, to hire contract attorneys to assist in review—but this often increases costs and decreases efficiency. To keep this from happening, it’s best to establish a standard that determines what type of case or amount of documents merits additional help across all legal matters. Then, designate the same team of attorneys—either in-house or outsourced—to handle document review on a regular basis.
Not only does this eliminate the hassle of finding contract attorneys, performing conflict checks and training them on the case, it also gives you a head start on the review process. Using the same team of attorneys also builds institutional knowledge about clients who are involved in frequent litigation, which further improves accuracy and efficiency.
Create a data repository and recycle work product.
Another way to streamline e-discovery is to recycle previously processed data and technical and attorney work product. By developing a central repository for hosted data, you can reuse relevant work product across different legal matters, which keeps you from performing unnecessary and repeated collections and review. Recycling work product also helps maintain accuracy during review and ensures that privileged information remains privileged. This keeps the e-discovery process from being recreated every time, making each subsequent case more efficient.
Instead of relying on the traditional, ad-hoc approach to e-discovery, consider standardizing the way you handle the process. Doing so will save time and money while reducing stress and confusion. The steps listed above can help you implement the right tools and workflows to achieve a smooth e-discovery process every time.