As the sheer amount of electronically stored information (ESI) and device-to-device communication increases, so too does the demand for e-discovery professionals. In the past, we’ve talked extensively about the various facets of electronic data discovery – from preparing for inevitable litigation to limiting who sees what with Microsoft Exchange’s Role Based Access Control (RBAC). While choosing the right software is certainly part of an effective e-discovery strategy, much of the actual procedure – the implementation falls on to the people.
In this post, we’ll look at three different positions one might hold in carrying out an in-house e-discovery process (and one more that’s behind-the-scenes). Each of these e-discovery jobs can be demanding and also rewarding; at each position – the job-holder plays a pivotal role in the greater procedure. Let’s get started.
1. IT Professional
When it comes to preparing for and/or reacting to an e-discovery request, it is essential that a company has trained IT professionals. These individuals are responsible for handling the technical implications of decided-upon company procedures, as well as retrieving the data or information sought in a legal discovery request. Professionals in these positions need to have a comprehensive understanding of the IT infrastructure of an organization, highlighting locations where custodian ESI might reside, strong data mapping skills, knowledge their company’s data archiving systems, email deployment, back-up procedure, retention policies, litigation hold communications and much more.
The knowledge that IT professionals have of the corporate environment is essential for many reasons. First, even before true discovery process is initiated, IT professionals can help guide other stakeholders to define areas of risk in the system as well detailing as common sense business reasons for specific policies. Once procedures are settled upon, IT professionals can be tasked to audit the systems to make sure they function properly. Upon the initiation of discovery, they will form a team with other key players to discuss strategy and help educate participants for effective early case assessment and provide background to assist with ‘Meet and Confer’ sessions. Lastly, IT professionals are often on the front lines of collection and even first-pass culling.
2. E-Discovery Attorney
Entering litigation with an experienced e-discovery attorney can provide a company with a substantial advantage. We’ve talked about what a company should look for when hiring an e-discovery attorney, and – at this point – this choice is a very important one. Lawyers working in the field of e-discovery should be able to advise a company when it’s forming its strategy and processes (implementation of retention policies, regulatory compliance policies, etc.), as well as aid a company in preparing for and persevering through litigation.
In having an understanding of an organization’s policies and the laws/regulations that govern data retention, the e-discovery attorney can make accurate assessments as to what data the organization is responsible. This accountability often makes the difference in litigation. Even if a company does not have the resources to have a dedicated e-discovery attorney, it is essential that part of their legal team has experience in this area.
3. Information Systems Manager
Between IT and legal is often an Information Systems Manager – the individual responsible for creating and overseeing the implementation of company policies surrounding e-discovery. With advice from legal, this person and his or her team craft the necessary processes and communicate them to IT. This person has knowledge in both law (specifically, the regulations that apply to their organization) and Information Technology, which allows them to effectively communicate strategies from one department to the other.
4. Software Engineer
Using a reliable electronic data discovery software is incredibly important both during and prior to litigation. Using the wrong software isn’t defensible in court, and companies want to ensure that their data is secure at all times. With this emphasis on data security and the efficient retrieval of case-relevant information, there exists a demand for comprehensive e-discovery software. Software engineers (like those at Sherpa) are responsible for creating this software and tailoring it to meet the needs of e-discovery professionals.