What is eDiscovery and how is it used by a law firm?
eDiscovery is the electronic component of the traditional discovery process that is a part of all forms of litigation. Discovery is a process by which parties in litigation exchange information related the underlying dispute of the case. As all forms of digital communication become more prominent in everyday personal and business communication, much of what used to be traditional paper discovery (e.g., please give me copies of all your files/correspondence/memos) has become focused around digital records (give me all your emails/text messages/word processing files). Consequently, discovery of digital documents is much more complicated, time consuming and expensive than more traditional paper-oriented discovery. Because it’s so much easier to dash off a one-line email or text, there is just a higher volume of files to be discovered and reviewed than in years past.
What’s the most important aspect of eDiscovery?
The most important aspect of eDiscovery is organizational strategy. It is essential that parties to litigation have a strategy to preserve, organize, collect, review and produce documents that could be discoverable. Even smaller cases can have hundreds or even thousands of documents spread across many different individuals or companies. Setting up and following a process to move through those documents comprehensively and efficiently is vital for litigants and lawyers to meet their obligations to other parties and the courts. Discovery is never a perfect process but by taking the time to get organized and proceed carefully, it can be effective.
As a client, why should I care?
eDiscovery, like all discovery, can be an expensive aspect of the litigation process. It can become even more expensive when there are mistakes, disorganization, a haphazard process or lack of technical skill needed when dealing with various kinds of documents. At its worst, failure to create and follow a good eDiscovery process can result in the inadvertent disclosure of sensitive information. When the process is done correctly, it can save time, money and stress, which ultimately benefits all parties.
Jason Mizzell is an associate at KGR and focuses his practice in the areas of litigation, eDiscovery, creditors’ rights, secured transactions and bankruptcy matters.