Since storing information electronically is always on the rise, it is important to plan carefully on how to handle the data without losing it. E-discovery is essential in legal proceedings which include government investigations on a crime or litigation. During legal proceedings, the lawyers from either side should cooperate to make the discovery process a success.
The following are the phases followed in e-discover process.
Identification The stage involves the identification of custodians who might have relevant information that could be used in a legal proceedings. In addition to information, the custodians can have necessary documents which might have crucial information on the same. At this stage, large volumes of data can be available for identification making it very cumbersome and time wasting. To reduce the data volume to be handled, some techniques are used e.g. limiting the range of time to have workable data. Preservation The main objective of this phase is to avoid spoilage or destruction of identified data. Therefore, the relevant data which is identified from different sources is kept in a legal hold for a period of time before starting the next phase.
Losing data at this stage may lead to wrong conclusions while a failure to preserve the identified information can lead to sanctions.Collection This involves the transfer of preserved data to a legal counsel. The counsel is supposed to determine the relevance and inclination of the data provided. Some companies have specialised in e-discovery and hence they have a computer software which starts the collection process immediately a legal notice is received. However, there are other professionals known as digital forensic experts who can be hired on contract to avoid the data spoilage or destruction.
If the legal counsel finds the data relevant, the e-discovery process is supposed to continue to the next phase.
Processing This entails the conversion of electronically stored information (ESI) into available review formats e.g.PDF or TIFF. This conversion is vital because it enables easy redaction of the processed data. With the modern technology, the review attorneys are able to precisely identify the relevant documents needed in e-discovery from a large volume of provided data.
Review This phase is important before presentation of the final data. Review tools are used in this stage to either identify the relevant documents needed or culling the documents which are not useful in the discovery process. In addition to improving the usefulness of the data, reviewing phase helps in removal of documents which have vague or duplicated information.
Production This is the last phase of e-discovery process. The final documents are given to the opposing counsel in an accepted format. The documents are mainly produced as native files or as petrified formats e.g. PDF.After the information has reached the production level, the subsequent stage in the process is presentation. The documents are presented to a fact finder to look for the necessary information needed as evidence. The presentation procedure can be done through motion practice e.g. movies or a trial in a court of law.