Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Should Lawyers Bother Reviewing the Raw eDiscovery?

At this point, nearly every attorney out there has received a flash drive or CD/DVD-ROM filled with files in response to a request for production. These days, document productions are even exchanged via email.

While most of the time, getting discovery in electronic format is convenient for everyone, some ediscovery, like an image of a hard-drive for a consumer electronic device, like an iPhone, can be thousands of pages long and contain pages upon pages of incomprehensible gibberish. Reviewing all that raw data might seem like a waste of lawyer time, but can you, in good conscious, never even open the file before assigning a support staff to review, or sending it out? Do you really need to review the raw ediscovery, or can you just wait for the summary report?

Data Is as Data Does

If you don't know how to open a particular type of file you have received via ediscovery, you may want to seek out professional, or support staff, assistance, especially if a simple Google search can't teach you everything you need to know in a matter of minutes. However, if you do get help, don't leave it all to your helper (unless it's another attorney assigned to the case).

You don't need to review every single page, but, as the lawyer in charge of managing the case, taking a look at the data yourself, in the raw form, is critical. You need to be able to question the person tasked with the more in-depth review and analysis, and you need to key them into your strategy. Doing so can go a long way to prevent missing important data points that your support staff wasn't trained to see, or your professional/vendor is too disconnected from the case to know what it all means.

Dollars in the Details

Outsourcing ediscovery may seem compelling, if only for the fact that you don't have to scroll through thousands of pages yourself. Particularly with how good ediscovery reviewing technology has become, outsourcing the full review can be much more economical for your clients, unless you lose the case, or significant value in the case, because your vendor missed something.

And in addition to giving up those easy billable hours of staring blankly at a computer screen, you may be missing out on valuable information contained in the ESI that your paralegal, project manager, assistant, or vendor, would never see. As such, if you plan to send out your massive pile of ediscovery, spending a couple hours reviewing a carefully selected hundred or so random pages can help you justify your sending out the massive discovery project to your client. Also, doing a review before sending it out or assigning it within your firm allows you to ensure that your vendor or support staff can be properly directed on what they should be looking for in the data.

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