A multi-part series providing guidance on how to effectively scope and plan eDiscovery projects
In the first Part of this series, we reviewed the value of preparation, planning, and checklists, as well as the evolving challenges and expectations associated with eDiscovery project planning. In the second Part, we discussed the initial eDiscovery project scoping steps you must take. In the third Part and fourth Part, we discussed some of the investigative steps that can follow, including targeted interviews, reactive data mapping, surveying, and sampling. In the fifth Part, we discussed volume estimation and cost estimation, and in the sixth Part, we reviewed project roles and communication guidelines. In this final Part, we review the key takeaways from across the series.
First, eDiscovery Planning Reduces Risk and Cost. The most expensive mistakes are the ones made at the beginning, which can result in lost evidence or large-scale do-overs. Spending some time engaged in effective scoping and planning is an investment in avoiding those downstream issues. Implementing some standard checklists to ensure the completeness and consistency of the scoping and planning process from matter to matter can be very effective.
Second, Imagine Events in Context, What Might Exist, and What’s Needed. Thinking thoroughly through what is likely to exist, what you are likely to need/want, and what your opponent is likely to need/want is the best way to avoid key materials being missed or lost. Once you have a list, prioritize it by likelihood it exists, importance if it does, and chances of it being requested by the other side.
Third, Investigate as Thoroughly as You Need to Test Your Assumptions. Leverage one or more of targeted interviewing, data mapping, surveying, and sampling to confirm what exists and gather useful details. Data maps are most helpful for wrangling enterprise and departmental systems, surveys are most useful for wrangling large numbers of potential custodians, and sampling is a powerful way to replace hypotheticals with evidence and examples for planning and negotiation.
Fourth, Use Your Gathered Data to Estimate Volumes and Document Counts. Remember that volume will expand during processing – sometimes dramatically – and then reduce (some) due to objective filtering. Remember that loaded, hosted volume will increase again (slightly). Estimations of volumes and document counts can be used to estimate the costs for each project phase, but more variables must be considered when estimating review costs.
Fifth, Define Roles and Communication as Clearly as Possible. eDiscovery projects typically involve numerous individuals from numerous organizations. Keeping everyone coordinated and moving towards a common goal is easiest when there are designated primary points of contact for each organization, pre-determined delegations of authority, clear escalation paths, and guidelines for communication and documentation in place.
One final piece of advice for effective eDiscovery project scoping and planning: seek help from experienced practitioners early and often. It is quite common for organizations not to involve an eDiscovery service provider or independent expert in their eDiscovery project efforts until much of the initial scoping and planning has already been done – sometimes after the meet-and-confer has already occurred and an agreement has already been negotiated. Unfortunately, at this point it’s already too late to avoid some of the pitfalls discussed in this series, and the negotiated agreement may not even be technically feasible.
So, it’s worth remembering: you can involve a service provider or expert practitioner for a few hours of early consultation and planning assistance to help you check your blind spots and get off to a strong start without committing yourself to ongoing work with them for every phase.
On-Demand Webinar Available
On Wednesday, July 19th, XDD presented a free a live webinar on this subject called “Measure Twice, Discover Once: Clichés, Chaos, and eDiscovery Project Planning.” In this one-hour program, XDD VP of eDiscovery Operations Bill Anderson joins XDD Director, Education and Content Marketing, for a survey of the topics covered in this series, followed by a live Q&A.
A recording of the program, including the Q&A that followed, is available for free by completing the download form here: https://www.xactdatadiscovery.com/webinars-on-demand/.
For Assistance or More Information
Xact Data Discovery (XDD) is a leading international provider of eDiscovery, data management and managed review services for law firms and corporations. XDD helps clients optimize their eDiscovery matters by orchestrating pristine communication between people, processes, technology and data. XDD services include forensics, eDiscovery processing, Relativity hosting and managed review.
XDD offers exceptional customer service with a commitment to responsive, transparent and timely communication to ensure clients remain informed throughout the entire discovery life cycle. At XDD, communication is everything – because you need to know. Engage with XDD, we’re ready to listen.
About the Author
Matthew Verga, JD
Director, Education and Content Marketing
Matthew Verga is an electronic discovery expert proficient at leveraging his legal experience as an attorney, his technical knowledge as a practitioner, and his skills as a communicator to make complex eDiscovery topics accessible to diverse audiences. A ten-year industry veteran, Matthew has worked across every phase of the EDRM and at every level from the project trenches to enterprise program design. He leverages this background to produce engaging educational content to empower practitioners at all levels with knowledge they can use to improve their projects, their careers, and their organizations.