Government inquiries, litigation, and internal investigations demand the collection of ESI and the associated metadata in a manner that is proportionate, legally defensible, targeted, efficient, and auditable. Thus, the identification phase of the electronic discovery process includes the collection of potentially relevant ESI. This collection provides feedback to the identification function, which in turn can expand the scope of the eDiscovery process or impact it in other ways.
In this article, we’ll discuss the collection of ESI, including the concept of collection log.
Collection of ESI
The collection is among the first few stages in the electronic discovery process. During this stage, data relevant to a civil litigation case is acquired for preservation and discovery. Due to a wide range of data sources, such as emails, voicemails, text messages, spreadsheets, etc., ESI collection is technologically complex. Whether the process is slow and painful or quick and easy depends on the volume of data involved and whether any archival or encryption methods are used.
Now that you have some idea about the ESI collection, you are able to grasp what the collection log is. It serves as a template for the counsel to store all incoming and outgoing ESI and documents specific to a case. This standard document can be used by the council to find documents they produce for a case and all data they receive from parties, non-parties, and clients. The document also typically contains important drafting tips and information.
In most straightforward cases, litigation support professionals should be able to handle the collection themselves. However, they should work collaboratively with IT in handling the more complicated data. This way, any electronic data or metadata won’t be mistakenly modified. Because the mere act of accessing a document can alter the metadata, self-collection by employees can be problematic. Any such event can pave the way to a data spoliation accusation. Here are some collection approaches used for litigation support:
This process involves allowing custodians to copy relevant documents into a portable storage device or shared drive on their own. Since many employees aren’t sufficiently tech-savvy and prone to mistakes, we can only advise against this method. In fact, self-collection is even questioned by certain courts as to whether it’s a defensible electronic discovery collection method. This method is only reasonable for matters involving low volumes of conventional data like emails and word documents. For more on this read the post on ESI preservation obligations and formats.
In cases where an organisation lacks even the basic resources, data collection may have to be performed by a third party. While the forensic expert or firm is likely to have the expertise and necessary tools required for the collection, this method can prove costly. Therefore, organisations should have at least some degree of internal collection capacity.
IT Collection is, by far, the most common ESI collection approach. With the directions given by the legal department, members of the IT department perform actual data collection. Since IT understand the digital data landscape, and data mapping as well as possesses technical skills, involving them in the ESI collection process makes sense.
This is the most cost-effective and efficient collection method for large companies with regular collection needs. It involves a centralised internal collection system that’s integrated with the organisation’s data sources so the ESI is collected remotely.
Now that you have a much better idea of ESI collection in eDiscovery project documentation, take the time to develop a strong collection strategy for your case. For more on this read our post entitled handling an unexpected crisis in eDiscovery.
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