Any lawsuit or investigation involves the collection and analysis of information and data from a variety of sources. For each party to establish their case, they must first identify, locate, and assess any relevant documentation. This process is known as Discovery—a hugely important aspect of litigation that can often dictate the outcome of a specific case. Organizations store massive amounts of data and information—whether electronic or hard copy—that could be relevant for litigation purposes.

As organizations have evolved from hard paper formats to electronic documentation, the classic process of legal discovery has evolved into electronic discovery, or eDiscovery. Due to the sheer volume of information organizations maintain, this complex process can pose severe challenges for legal and IT departments. However, as eDiscovery technology has matured, everything from document collection to legal holds to assessment can easily be managed and consolidated in a single platform. But identifying the right technology might be easier said than done.

This blog will explore the principles of Discovery and eDiscovery, and how Federation technology can be leveraged to serve both masters.

What is eDiscovery? 

eDiscovery or electronic data discovery is the process of identifying, collecting, and reviewing electronically stored information (ESI) in the initial phase of a litigation or investigation. Legal departments must produce proof of documentation for any relevant information relating to a lawsuit or litigation. As a critical regulatory obligation for all organizations, eDiscovery processes can implicate stakeholders from legal and IT departments, among others.

When content is assessed and identified as relevant to any active or anticipated investigation, such as an audit or litigation, the litigator must pause any modification or processing of the particular document. This process, also known as a Legal Hold, is essential to preserving pertinent data, much like conserving a crime scene for evidence collection. Modification of any active content and records is placed on pause to prevent changes during litigation.

What is Discovery?

Discovery is the broader term used for the initial phase of litigation where parties in a dispute must provide any relevant information and records, along with all other evidence related to the case. The main differentiator between Discovery and eDiscovery is that eDiscovery involves only electronic document formats, while Discovery encompasses both hard paper formats and data stored numerically. Quite simply, Discovery is the exchange of legal information and known facts of a case, and involves the collection, assessment, and disclosure of said evidence. All implicated parties are required to complete the discovery process, meaning they must hand over information and evidence about a claim so all participants can know what they are facing at trial.

The real cost of ROT

With such high volumes of information stored across often disconnected repositories, it’s no secret that organizations often struggle with efficient Discovery. Leaner content systems mean more efficient Discovery, no matter how many repositories a business may maintain. Eliminating ROT—redundant, obsolete, and trivial content that serves neither your business nor any existing or potential Discovery—can help streamline the process. In a nutshell, ROT represents any superfluous content floating around in your business infrastructures, including duplicates and outdated content, that should be deleted to maintain strong information management health. 

Having too much ROT is like storing excess body fat—the health risks only increase with time. These risks include:

  • Increased storage costs
  • High operating and maintenance expenses
  • Longer browsing time than that of cleaner repositories
  • Less efficient and less reliable search, analytics, and eDiscovery tools due to extreme volumes of superfluous information  
  • Human error or technological blunders if the wrong document version is used in litigation

In short, the higher the ROT the lower the efficiency and the greater the risk. Businesses should be diligent about taking inventory of the information they store and establish a strategy to trim any excess or duplicate data. 

Eliminate ROT, accelerate eDiscovery with Federation

The good news is, technologies exist to facilitate these processes and avoid potential risks. While many organizations may have the ability to deploy a single repository to consolidate eDiscovery-related information for assessment, the migration of high volumes of data engenders security risks and can lead to excess ROT.  Federation technology makes information available via a single platform, without migrating the source document or creating duplicate files.  

The result. Users can find what they’re looking for within seconds thanks to powerful search technology — saving the hassle of sifting through disparate business applications and repositories. Federation consolidates data from any number of content locations and systems, leading to increased speed and accuracy when responding to eDiscovery requests and minimizing any potentially negative business impact. Users can easily place legal holds on records distributed across systems company-wide and gain centralized control over information, without the need for costly, time-consuming, ROT-laden migrations. 

By quickly identifying relevant content via keyword searches, or folder browsing, across content repositories, Federation technology not only reduces time, cost, and effort associated with eDiscovery processes, but the easy-to-navigate interface ensures fast and comprehensive user adoption for optimal ROI. Easy to use and quick to implement, Federation is a tried and trusted solution to avoid complex, risky migrations that can deepen information silos and lead to human error. 

Conclusions

Integrated eDiscovery products that include Federated technology eliminate risks and inefficiencies associated with legal Discovery for all types of organizations. The most effective eDiscovery solutions offer a centralized, unified system that delivers powerful search technology for greater control, flexibility, scalability, and data security at all stages of the eDiscovery process.
Optimizing often cumbersome, time-consuming eDiscovery processes can help reduce costs and improve accuracy of data retention and retrieval, all while meeting compliance requirements for business litigation.