How To Succeed in the eDiscovery Presentation Stage

  • Will Pfeifer
  • July 16, 2021

Before court begins and the judge says “all rise,” the plaintiff and defense teams first have to go through a process called discovery. 

In case you’re new to the term, discovery requires getting your ducks in a row, showing the other team your evidence, and requesting information from the other party.

In the not-so-distant past, courts only had to deal with physical evidence. But now, we’re in the digital era, and things are a bit more complicated. Not only do legal teams have to sift through physical documents, but they now also need to account for electronic evidence in a process called eDiscovery.

This post offers a primer on eDiscovery, including a rundown of how to share and present digital evidence in court. Keep reading to learn more about what your legal team needs to do to get through the presentation stage with flying colors.

eDiscovery: An overview

During eDiscovery, legal teams preserve, collect, analyze, and exchange digital information. The eDiscovery process applies to litigation, internal investigations, and government investigations, among other legal processes. 

At the district court level, eDiscovery protocol aligns with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). The FRCP provides explicit instructions for issuing and responding to eDiscovery requests. If you ever need guidance about eDiscovery during court, look to the FRCP for answers. 

As a bit of background, Congress created the FRCP back in 1937. Back then, the rules unified the highly fragmented American court system, ensuring consistent standards in districts across the country. Following several rounds of amendments, the FRCP remains the go-to source for civil procedures.

What Is the EDRM?

While the FRCP is a useful guide for understanding eDiscovery protocol, it doesn’t offer internal eDiscovery guidance. Legal teams are ultimately on their own when forming eDiscovery strategies and following best practices.

Fortunately, there is the electronic discovery reference model (EDRM). The EDRM is a widely used industry framework that provides step-by-step guidance for all stages of eDiscovery. It’s one of the oldest sources of information for eDiscovery. Countless legal teams across the country rely on it to formulate their strategies.

The EDRM is just for reference, and you don’t necessarily have to follow the steps in any particular order. With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of each stage of the eDiscovery process.

1. Information Governance 

Information governance requires forming a plan to reduce risk and minimize expenses during eDiscovery. Legal professionals should work with IT workers during this stage to outline the scope of the project and exchange best practices.

2. Preservation

Preservation entails taking active measures to protect electronically stored information, or ESI, during the case. 

3. Collection

Collection involves gathering and merging ESI for future use in the eDiscovery process. This typically involves extracting data from multiple sources.

4. Processing 

Processing involves reducing the volume of ESI and transforming it into appropriate forms for review and analysis.

5. Review 

Review calls for evaluating ESI for privilege and relevance. During this stage, you’ll want to develop a review strategy, establish a review environment, conduct a review, and evaluate your plan.

6. Analysis

Analysis entails evaluating ESI for content. This step involves identifying key patterns and trends.

7. Production

Production requires preparing the delivery of ESI to stakeholders in appropriate forms. 

8. Presentation 

Presentation is the last stage of the EDRM. This is where you ship ESI to audiences during a case to persuade them, elicit information, and validate claims.

What Is EDRM Presentation? 

EDRM presentation is arguably the most important component of the entire process. This is the culmination of all your research during eDiscovery; you can’t afford any gaffes during this stage. 

For example, it’s common to experience IT failure during a presentation, which can ruin a presentation and lead to negative outcomes. You may not always get a second chance to present your evidence, so you have to get it right the first time.

The presentation process contains six steps. 

1. Develop a Presentation Strategy 

First, outline your goals for the presentation. For example, the EDRM recommends thinking about who you are trying to inform, the story or themes you are trying to communicate, and the facts you’re demonstrating.

2. Schedule and Coordinate 

This part is pretty straightforward. Essentially, it entails planning the presentation with legal stakeholders and finding an agreeable time to present evidence.

3. Prepare Exhibits 

Preparing involves converting physical information to electronic information. For example, a team might scan paper records and photos as PDFs and JPEGs and store audio from CDs as mp3 files.

4. Test and Deliver 

The testing stage is all about making your presentation bulletproof. Test your audio and equipment and have a plan for backup and recovery. It’s also critical to know and rehearse your pitch to ensure a flawless presentation before your peers. 

5.  Present 

This is where it all comes together. The presentation stage is where you showcase your digital evidence and make your case. 

6. Acquire and Store

After presenting, it’s essential to have a framework for storing, securing, and maintaining files after the verdict in case you need them in the future. 

Tips To Effectively Present ESI

Check Courtroom Connectivity Quality 

Not all courtrooms have robust internet connectivity. In many cases, connectivity can be spotty and inefficient, which can make it hard to transmit videos from the web. Make sure to check connectivity ahead of time or avoid running high-bandwidth content over the internet when presenting. 

Inquire About Courtroom Loading Policy

It’s also a good idea to check the courthouse’s rules for bringing equipment into the facility. The EDRM recommends getting to court early to account for scanning and security protocols.

What’s more, you should seek approval from the judge and clerk before bringing equipment into the courtroom so you don’t run into any unexpected issues. Many courthouses also ban phones, so this is something to consider if you plan to use any apps during your presentation. 

Efficiency Is Key for Success

There is nothing worse than spending a lot of time building a case and gathering evidence only to have limited time to form a quality presentation. 

Efficiency is key during the eDiscovery phase. The faster you can compile evidence and move through the previous stages of eDiscovery, the more depth you can put into the final details and form a great presentation.

Optimize eDiscovery With Venio

There’s no getting around it: eDiscovery is a complex process. This is especially true when handling large cases with millions of files. It can be time-consuming and require working with many different systems, databases, and team members. 

One way to streamline eDiscovery is to work with a platform provider. For example, Venio offers the VenioOne eDiscovery platform. This solution provides secure storage and convenient access throughout the eDiscovery process, enabling you to move across all stages from production to presentation with ease.

By using VenioOne, your team will also gain much deeper visibility into your data through advanced, AI-powered review and data-culling tools. This way, you can trim data and only move the information you need to the production and presentation stages. 

At the end of the day, nothing else matters if you botch a presentation during eDiscovery. As such, it pays to have a system in place for handling it properly. 

To see how Venio can revolutionize the way you handle eDiscovery presentations, request a demo 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.