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Legal discovery takes place before the plaintiff and defense teams square off in court. Instead of sharing evidence in court and dragging a trial on forever, discovery ensures proceedings are fast, fair, and efficient.
Legal discovery changed about a decade ago, with amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). These updates introduced new ground rules for digital legal discovery, also known as eDiscovery. Today, eDiscovery is every bit as important as traditional discovery. As such, legal teams need to have a framework in place for managing it effectively.
Keep reading for an introduction to eDiscovery and, more specifically, the collection stage, which involves gathering data for use in court.
What Is the eDiscovery Process?
Legal eDiscovery involves identifying, gathering, and producing electronically stored information (ESI). In recent years, eDiscovery has become more and more important due to the rise of big data.
The term “eDiscovery” applies to all types of electronically stored data. ESI lives in places like mobile devices, emails, datasets (i.e., collections of electronic data), and cloud storage systems.
The FRCP and eDiscovery
In 1938, Congress created the FRCP to unify the U.S. court system. The FRCP is a bit different today due to several amendments, but it’s still the main governing document for federal court procedures.
The FRCP also outlines eDiscovery protocol and issuing and responding to ESI requests. If you ever need advice about where to turn during a case, you may want to check out the FRCP.
Who Handles eDiscovery?
Legal eDiscovery is only about a decade old. As such, many law firms and legal teams are still learning eDiscovery best practices and refining their approach.
In turn, a growing number of companies are hiring eDiscovery specialists. In fact, eDiscovery is one of the most exciting emerging sectors of the legal industry. It’s so new that most schools don’t teach it yet. However, as demand for eDiscovery grows, this is changing.
Specialists help attorneys manage eDiscovery end to end. They make the process easy for attorneys by providing data and visualizing it for use in court. Ultimately, specialists spare attorneys from manually procuring ESI so they can focus on building a case.
How to Earn eDiscovery Certification
If you want to work in eDiscovery, you don’t need special certification or even a law degree to start. All you need is a bachelor’s or master’s degree and a willingness to learn. Getting certified as an eDiscovery specialist can teach you valuable skills and knowledge that can help your firm and advance your career.
Typically, you need to look outside of academia for an eDiscovery certification because most schools still don’t offer it. For example, some industry groups like the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS) now provide eDiscovery certification. At the same time, many vendors also offer platform-specific certifications, which you can use to prove you’ve mastered their systems.
What Are the Elements of the eDiscovery Process?
While the FRCP outlines the eDiscovery procedure in court, it does not say how legal teams should handle the process. Most legal teams today follow the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM). This is a widely used industry framework that provides eDiscovery guidance and recommended steps.
There are nine stages of eDiscovery: information governance, identification, preservation, collection, processing, review, analysis, production, and presentation in court, hearings, trials, and depositions.
These steps do not necessarily have to go in that order. Legal teams often move steps around and modify their process to get the best results.
How eDiscovery Collection Works
Now that you have a basic understanding of how the eDiscovery process works, let’s take a closer look at the collection stage. This is one of the most important and complicated parts of eDiscovery.
Simply put, collection is all about gathering ESI for use throughout the eDiscovery process. This applies to litigation matters, governmental inquiries, and internal investigations, among other things. It often requires digging deep into sources and extracting data from specific locations while taking care to preserve it as evidence.
The EDRM recommends four steps during collection.
1. Develop a Collection Strategy
Determine the most appropriate course of action for collecting digital evidence.
2. Prepare a Collection Plan
Document a process for collecting ESI, and share it with your team. Consider collecting feedback and agreeing on a standard procedure that you can scale.
3. Select a Collection Method
Determine a method for collecting ESI and associated metadata in a way that is legally defensible, proportionate, auditable, efficient, and targeted.
The methodology you deploy depends on how much data there is, whether collection involves special expertise or technologies, the amount of time you have, and whether the case is criminal or civil.
4. Execute the Collection Plan
Put the plan into action and collect ESI for processing, analysis, and production.
There are a few different ways to collect ESI. Employees may transmit ESI into a shared drive, or IT may extract data automatically. You can also outsource the process to a third-party vendor or use software to automate collection.
How Venio Helps With eDiscovery
In the past, eDiscovery was highly resource-intensive. It required weeks of research and communication, pulling employees away from other projects and driving up costs.
Recent advancements in eDiscovery technology make the process fast, easy, and intuitive. Now, you and your team can rely on a platform like VenioOne, which handles all aspects of eDiscovery—from information governance to production.
What Is VenioOne?
VenioOne is a leading eDiscovery management platform developed by a team of professionals with years of experience in this field.
Here’s a breakdown of what VenioOne can offer your legal department.
1. Rapid Scalability
Legal teams need to be able to move from small projects involving a few hundred files to large projects involving millions.
VenioOne offers rapid scalability, allowing legal teams to take on virtually any project without fear of exceeding storage limitations.
2. Faster Workflows
The eDiscovery process moves very quickly, and there isn’t much time for responding to ESI requests. Unfortunately, failing to respond during the appropriate time frame results in court sanctions and penalties.
VenioOne helps rapidly procure and process data. By doing so, you can meet deadlines and move cases forward with ease.
3. Enhanced Security
Legal data is extremely valuable. Therefore, it’s a top target for cybercriminals. Legal teams need to go above and beyond to protect information so that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
VenioOne offers a secure data-sharing component. This allows teams to limit exposure when sharing files with external parties.
4. Easy Access
You don’t have to be a technical wizard or IT professional to use VenioOne. The platform is for eDiscovery professionals who may or may not have technical experience.
It’s highly intuitive and easy enough for any employee to navigate and learn—especially those who go through Venio’s product training program.
5. Simultaneous Project Management
Legal teams need to be able to manage multiple projects simultaneously across different clients.
Venio offers support for multiple concurrent projects, allowing you to move back and forth between clients and cases as you need to—all from a central portal.
Take Your Legal Department to New Heights
Venio can supercharge your team’s eDiscovery process, turning it into one of your company’s biggest strengths. As a result, your team will lower costs, expedite discovery overall, and have a much easier time moving through the pretrial process.
Accelerate your eDiscovery program by requesting a free demo of VenioOne today.
This post was written by Justin Reynolds. Justin is a freelance writer who enjoys telling stories about how technology, science, and creativity can help workers be more productive. In his spare time, he likes seeing or playing live music, hiking, and traveling.