“Know your data, know your case” is a phrase often used by those of us who are experienced in eDiscovery. There is no better example of the importance of this phrase than through the practice of Early Case Assessment (ECA).
All too often, we hear of lawyers being so anxious to get into their case they start reading documents immediately without any structure or real understanding of what the case is about, what the data consists of, or al strategy as to how to approach and handle the case. A little patience right at the outset of the matter will go a long way to assist with strategy, timelines, knowledge of the case and budgeting, and will for sure, built confidence on the part of the client.
Saving time and saving costs by working smart and utilising ECA is the way forward. At Insiox, we strongly advocate using ECA best practices.
Let us examine some of the features and benefits of ECA methodologies enabled by our globally renowned eDiscovery solution, RelativityOne.
Imagine the value of knowing quickly -within hours or days, depending upon the volume of data – four main components about your case:
- Exactly how many documents are in the collection and a breakdown of the file types. Knowing how many documents you have will give you an overview of the scale of the case immediately and the file type analysis will help you strategize. For example, if the case contains a large number of emails, it will tell you that the case is likely to revolve around who communicated with whom, when and what was said. It also assists us in being able to advise as to some of the features likely to be of real value, such as email threading. Should the document analysis show a large number of spreadsheets, then you might see that financial analysis help may be required. Or if it contained medical, scientific or construction documents, this would point to the need for expert specialist assistance.
- A document date range will be shown with “spikes” so that you can easily see the most important dates upon which to focus in the first instance, rather than just starting to read all of the documents in the collection from the beginning.
- Key custodians or players will be indicated by the volume of documents attributed to them so that once again, you can concentrate on those that are clearly most important.
- Conduct keyword searches and apply filters to identify documents that are most likely to reveal more of the story upon review. Apply a strong list of keywords, taking into account the use of noise words, making the best use of the search engine, for example, proximity searches, combining search phrases instead of single term searches etc. Nine times out of Ten we are given a list of keywords which includes terms like ‘Confidential’, ‘Company Name’ etc. These are things that should be picked up at the start of the keyword searching process, in addition to excluding footers in the built index, suggesting alternatives for example using the ‘Company Name’ and combining it with domains, date ranges, filetypes etc, amplifying your findings by finding conceptually similar documents, removing junk domains, using text analytics to expand keywords and removing duplicates.
Of course, many good eDiscovery solutions these days incorporate ECA as a feature. What distinguishes RelativityOne, is that we can do all of this in a workspace (called repository), which attracts lower hosting fees than the review workspace.
Being able to present your client with all this information, together with a better idea of timelines and cost within a short time lapse from receipt of the data, is a differentiator between you and another lawyer.