E-Discovery Guidelines: Production, Workflow, and Technology

As judges increasingly require better cooperation and collaboration among litigants in e-discovery matters, it’s becoming even more important to establish and adhere to e-discovery guidelines and best practices.  In addition to cooperation concerning what information is potentially relevant, judges are insisting that litigants agree on the format of productions.  Advanced Discovery, a premier e-discovery company, offers e-discovery guidelines to help litigants address the technology used in electronic discovery.

e-discovery-guidelinesAgreement on Format of Production

One e-discovery guideline that can help parties fall in line with judicial expectations of cooperation in electronic discovery cases is for counsel to agree on the format of ESI productions.  When submitting discovery requests, it is crucial to clearly state the desired format and specs for production.  This simple step can eliminate ambiguity and help the parties avoid unnecessary costs.  When the parties cannot agree on production format and/or specs, counsel can request judicial intervention early in discovery instead of waiting until costs have been incurred by production in disputed format.

Steps for Producing ESI

Organizations implementing e-discovery guidelines should consider the standard workflow they’ll follow when producing electronic information; the following are six steps that might be included:

  1. Search and Collect ESI
  2. Reduce volume through culling
  3. Eliminate duplicates and render ESI searchable
  4. Initial Review
  5. Counsel review
  6. Production

Protect Data

Some methods for collecting electronic information can alter, damage, or destroy the data.  For this reason, litigants should balance the cost savings of self-collection against the risk of damage as an e-discovery guideline.  Inadvertent alterations or damage could result in sanctions issued by the courts if reasonable steps to prevent the damage weren’t taken.

Technology

Litigants typically use technology to search for relevant ESI.  In most cases, the search need only be performed on active data that is located on reasonably accessible sources.  However, there may be cases where less readily accessible sources need to be searched for relevant information.  One e-discovery guideline to follow is to preserve potentially relevant information located on inaccessible sources until opposing parties have had an opportunity to inspect.  Also, document the steps taken while conducting searches in order to demonstrate that the search method was reasonable.

Whenever possible, agreement between counsel should be reached regarding the scope of searches as well as the search terms to be employed.

Advanced Discovery, a premier e-discovery company, offers support and advice to parties involved in litigation to help them avoid some of the pitfalls that can lead to sanctions.  Comments on these guidelines are encouraged.  For more information on e-discovery guidelines or to learn more about our services, fill out the form below.