So often in the world of business we want a checklist, a guide and a set of best practices that will lead us in the right direction through complicated business processes. eDiscovery is no exception. In a recent eDiscovery Daily Blog post, “eDiscovery Best Practices  When Litigation Hits, the First 7 to 10 Days is Critical” speaks to making sure you have crossed your i’s and dotted your t’s.

Of course, this is what should happen when a trigger even occurs. Know who is potentially involved in the matter. Issue the Hold Notice and begin tracking and the last best practice tip offered in this post, plan data collection.

As the post states:

These activities can result in creating a data map of potentially responsive information and a “probable cost of discovery” spreadsheet (based on initial estimated scope compared to past cases at the same stage) that will help in determining whether to proceed to litigate the case or attempt to settle with the other side.

While we agree these are critical steps once a trigger event has occurred, why not put into place best practices ahead of this game. Miller Montague and I spoke at the Annual SLA Conference on the topic of “eDiscovery Preparation Through Information Management and Data Mapping” on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. From that presentation we offer a few of our own recommendations that can be translated into your organizational best practices.

  • Create an eDiscovery Team that not only reacts, but plans ahead. The amount of information being created today makes it nearly inevitable that at some point a business will need to retrieve data that they thought was no longer relevant. A team of professionals that can capably deal with technology, information management, records destruction  and ultimately who should have access from a human resources view, as well as the legal process of discovery is the first best step any organization can take to begin managing electronically stored information effectively.
  • Create a Data Map and update it manually. Knowing where information lives is critical in efficiently producing the right data. A good data map can be used as a component in your eDiscovery process as a defensible tool that demonstrates good faith efforts to produce the necessary data.  It is also an important component in controlling costs.
  • Involve information professionals in the entire process so that the best information management and retrieval methods are used. On the management side relevant taxonomies can be used to file information accurately into a records management system. In addition, understanding how to craft queries that truly take advantage of any software solutions employed is a more cost-effective method of producing data than leaving it to someone who does not understand the full-scale picture of information creation, organization and retrieval.

Information professionals who are knowledgeable about information management and the eDiscovery process will provide high quality service to their organization. Their ability to work with a strong team and see the full picture is an asset that is underutilized. The professionals who understand the process, review and analysis are certainly critical to any successful undertaking. When you add a professional who can manage data and help mitigate risks and costs you have gotten one step ahead in the big game.

Constance Ard, July 17, 2012