In order to successfully complete an eDiscovery investigation, you need to be familiar with how ESI (electronically stored information) is handled in each step of the eDiscovery process. Failure to handle ESI properly and efficiently can lead to high costs, long hours, undesired outcomes, and spoliation risks. The goal of the eDiscovery process is to reduce the volume of ESI while increasing its relevance.
The 7 Steps of the eDiscovery Process
- Identification – When litigation or an investigation is anticipated, all sources of potentially relevant ESI must be identified in order to implement an effective legal hold. These sources may include servers, laptops, mobile devices, and even personal devices. You must determine how and where the relevant data is stored and what inaccessible data exists.
- Preservation – During this phase, the goal is to protect all potentially relevant data in ways that are legally defensible, mitigate risks, and are also reasonable, efficient, and auditable. ESI being preserved may include, e-mails, text and instant messages, computer files, and metadata.
- Collection – Once preserved, the ESI must be gathered for analysis. Collection must be targeted, proportionate to the matter, auditable, legally defensible, and efficient. If you cannot establish a clear chain of custody and prove the integrity of the data, you risk not only spoliation charges, but having your evidence thrown out of court.
- Processing – Next the collected ESI is formatted so that it can be culled and searched in a review tool. Data culling leaves you with a smaller, more relevant data set for review, which is the most expensive part of the eDiscovery process.
- Analysis – The ESI is evaluated for relevant summary information, such as critical players, key topics, specific vocabulary, and highly relevant documents. This information is important for early decisions about strategy and improving productivity. Analysis is repeatedly performed through the rest of the eDiscovery process as new information is brought to light.
- Review – Document review is critical as it identifies responsive documents for production and privileged documents to withhold. As information is uncovered, the legal team also gains a better understanding of the facts and can begin honing their legal strategies. This is where eDiscovery managed services prove most valuable, streamlining workflows and processes while reducing costs by up to 50%.
- Presentation – Now that the data has been processed, you must determine how you will present the ESI in depositions, hearings, or trial. It is best to consult with an experienced litigation support team, such as Precise, to ensure your exhibits are both effective and admissible in court.
Simplify the eDiscovery Process with Precise
If you need help navigating the rough seas of the eDiscovery process, Precise’s experts are here to help. From eDiscovery managed services to digital forensics investigations, we provide you with the best technology at an affordable rate. Call us today at 866-277-3247 to learn more about our eDiscovery services.