It’s Oscar season; how was your performance this year? When it comes to e-discovery, would you say you were “Pitch Perfect”? Maybe it was an experience more like “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” No matter what your results were in 2012, you can make a fresh start and turn in a winning performance in 2013 with these tips.
Know the rules. Be familiar with the changes to the Florida state rules that became effective in September 2012.
Learn more, do more.
The quality of education is improving in e-discovery. You can realize significant savings if you learn the terminology and have an average level of comfort with software. There are some great options for “DIY” data collection, processing, review and production of documents. If you conduct e-discovery on 3 or more cases per year, consider investing in software that will allow you manage the e-discovery cycle. The best software providers offer implementation and training, and will rescue you with project management and hosting services, should the case grow too large or unwieldy.
Try before you buy.
Be wary of hyperbolic claims about automatic results or ‘all in one’ solutions. There is no EASY button. There are also no stupid questions. Take the time to talk with prospective vendors; look for people who will take the time to share knowledge. The best experts will give you answers that make sense, and not ‘talk tech’ to distract or intimidate you. The best providers will give you the opportunity to try the software for free, using your own data if you choose.
Expect pricing to look like vegetable soup.
Many service providers price ESI processing and hosting on the GB volume of data. These models are problematic because nobody can predict exactly how many GBs will be collected or processed. There are a couple of great ways to hold down e-discovery costs and budget more efficiently. First, ask service providers for flat fee or all-inclusive pricing. Providers who own and operate their own software, and host matters on their own hosting centers will have a lower cost basis and can extend the savings to you.
Know your judge.
The sitting judge will have preferences and guidelines for handling a case. Know the judge for your case, and meet the judicial expectations in the courtroom. Search the judge’s decisions in previous cases. Research published articles or transcripts of speaking engagements; talk to attorneys who have experience with that judge.
Become familiar early on with the potential custodians and your client’s data management practices. Though the new Florida rules do not require a 26(f) meet and confer, they do suggest use of “a Case Management Conference to be convened by order of the Court or by a party merely serving a notice setting the conference.” One of the purposes of the conference is for the parties to “discuss as to electronically stored information, the possibility of agreements from the parties regarding the extent to which such evidence should be preserved, the form in which such evidence should be produced, and whether discovery of such information should be conducted in phases or limited to particular individuals, time periods, or sources.”
Knowledge of your client’s operations and data, combined with your understanding of the processes and costs in e-discovery, will serve you well in the case management conference. As a result you’ll increase your chances of ‘walking the red carpet’ in 2013. Megan Miller