Custodian interviews are the first step in an evidence gathering and verification process. These interviews are conducted with individuals within an organization who are identified as potentially being custodians of data or documents relevant to a legal matter, therefore requiring preservation and collection. Custodian interviews are important as they act as a safety net for preservation efforts, enabling more targeted action. They can be used to gather valuable information for eDiscovery project planning by informing downstream early case assessment and review activities. Learn the background, options and reasons behind custodian interviews.
Conducting effective custodian interviews requires asking various questions, whether they be legal, technical, communication, or compliance-related. Thus, custodian interviews are generally scripted for consistency. Creating a custodian interview script is a very important step in the process of custodian interviews. The questions asked may range from biographical questions, such as questions about identity, role within the organization, tenure at the organization, and areas of responsibility, to technical questions, in which you are attempting to get a picture of the kinds of materials the individual generates and receives in their work, as well as the hardware and software they use to do it. Creating a custodian interview script is an important first step in the procedure.
In planning how to format a script and execute custodian interviews, determining the optimal approach for a particular project requires consideration of the specifics, including: how many potential custodians there are, where they all are, how much time is available, how much money is available, etc. All approaches are one of three types. The first is conversational, where one attorney conducts all of the interviews personally, makes notes as they go, and manually compiles the results for matters of small-to-moderate size. The second is formal, where formats for the script and answer recordation for more complex matters include pre-formatted text documents, spreadsheets, and PDF forms. The last is technology-assisted, for the largest, most-distributed, or most-urgent matters. This survey-style approach can be accomplished using paper forms, electronic forms, or web-based questionnaires.