The Age of Electronic Discovery

The volume of electronically stored information, or ESI, has grown beyond our imagination. The majority of organizations now have over 95% of their data in electronic format. And when litigation arises they better know what to do with it.

Amendments passed to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require most companies facing the possibility of litigation – and that’s every company, essentially – to retain, organize and be able to turn over all required documents as potential evidence in the discovery process.

The discovery process requires parties to turn over information pertinent to the case. Hence the name, discovery.

Companies must be proactive and invest in electronic discovery software solutions to retain electronic data in accordance with this federal law. Or they may face fines and sanctions during discovery and litigation processes.

So, it’s more important than ever for IT, litigation support and legal departments to collaborate to find electronic discovery software solutions. Such applications should archive, retrieve, review, retain, produce and delete – when necessary – electronic data in accordance with federal regulations. This is now required in discovery.

But traditional electronic discovery software solutions aren’t cheap, and for this reason and others, like lack of understanding, many companies put off such purchases. They’re asking for trouble. Litigation, and the discovery process that precedes it, can happen when least expected.

Let’s look at why reliable litigation software solutions are vital in this new world of electronic discovery.
Automated and proactive software solutions are critical for early legal case assessment – either before discovery or after discovery begins. In this step, litigation teams may find that "smoking gun" or determine if there is enough evidence to make a case.

A software solution that quickly provides authorities the required information –electronic or non-electronic – puts the company in a good, cooperative light.

And legal electronic data revealed in the discovery process may also exonerate companies against rogue employees.

That was the case involving the Société Général in early 2008. Faced with pending litigation, the French bank used its email archival system – a proactive software solution – during the discovery process to show that a trader acted alone in unauthorized trades and that he tried to conceal his behavior. ( l).

A company’s cooperative and timely electronic discovery also has the potential, during pending litigation or actual litigation, to avoid media coverage and major shareholder impact. So, an investment in effective software returns 10-fold during discovery and/or litigation processes. 

The ideal electronic discovery solution will conceptually analyze and intuitively present information, and it will follow traffic patterns of data, such as the path of an e-mail attachment.

The right electronic discovery software tracks who read, heard, forwarded and retained any piece of information. It also detects the influence of content, showing who took, re-purposed, persuaded, or even plagiarized what an employee has heard or seen.

Most electronic discovery software review products use keyword identification that doesn’t reveal the meaning of collected information. Instead, look for programs with automation and conceptual analysis to provide contextual overview of the data set. This adds value to the software purchase.

In the end, companies prepared for discovery save time, money and face.

electronic document discovery