Providers of eDiscovery services to law firms need to be technically proficient, adept at using software, cost-conscious and focused on quality, among other things. But according to one leading eDiscovery firm, there is another ingredient that is sometimes overlooked.
“Our view is that eDiscovery is not a technical issue, it’s a legal issue with a technical solution,” said Dana Conneally, chief strategy officer for Evidox Corp., a boutique eDiscovery company based in Boston. “We believe that part of our role is to educate our law firm clients about the rules of eDiscovery, the new technologies in the marketplace and other important elements of the process.”
To back up that perspective, Evidox focuses on “issue spotting” for their law firm clients. Their team includes four full-time attorneys on staff who advise clients on both digital forensics and eDiscovery challenges that emerge in a wide range of litigation and investigations.
“For example, one of our clients was asked to deal with a government investigation that was sprung on them at the last minute,” recalled Conneally. “They had about a terabyte of data that needed to be preserved, then the government said that every piece of information needed to be analyzed for relevancy.”
The government agency was contending that if even just 20 percent of the data was relevant to the investigation – a huge volume of electronic information – it would justify a full-scale review.
“Within a few days, we were able to process that entire data set, run searches, put together some key metrics about what was actually in the data set, and hand that information over to our client so they could go back to the government agency,” said Conneally. “The statistical analysis of the data set indicated that the responsive rate was actually less than one percent. As the initial sample set evolved, that figure grew slightly, but was still a far cry from the 20 percent responsive rate the government had predicted.”
Evidox’s client was able to use the metrics provided from the early data analysis to push back on the government requests and show them they were willing to take the dispute to the court for resolution.
“When you have actual hard statistics to go back with, it changes everything,” said Conneally.
Conneally’s team relied on the LexisNexis Early Data Analyzer software tool to do the heavy lifting required with the Terabyte data set, which allowed them to “issue spot” for the client and provide the hard evidence to support their legal arguments.
“We’ve been using Early Data Analyzer for about three years now,” said Conneally. “We’ve found that, as data size continues to mushroom, Early Data Analyzer allows us to make that crucial first pass on a large data set.”
The primary purpose of early data analysis is not to learn every fact or review all documents, but rather to gain enough information about the stakes in front of you in order for the litigators to decide how to proceed, according to Steve Ashbacher, vice president of litigation solutions with the LexisNexis software and technology business.
“The more that your eDiscovery software tools can help you obtain that knowledge, the less money and time you will need to spend on setting your case strategy,” said Ashbacher.