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If you're handling a case with significant eDiscovery needs, it's impossible to go it alone. Even large firms and businesses will bring on eDiscovery counsel, vendors, and experts to guide them through the process.
When it comes to choosing your eDiscovery team, where should you start? Here are some simple guidelines.
Step One: Start With eDiscovery Counsel
It's not tax, criminal defense, or mergers and acquisitions, but eDiscovery is a substantive area of law, and one that requires experienced practitioners. And if you're not experienced in eDiscovery, and eDiscovery technology, you might be tempted to avoid the process altogether -- focusing just on "low hanging fruit," like emails and attachments, or overcollecting information you don't need. Having specialized counsel can help you streamline the process and reduce the risk of sanctions later on.
When choosing your eDiscovery counsel, you want to find an attorney who is experienced in both complex and general litigation, who understands information systems, and who is on top of the existing eDiscovery rules and evolving common law. Plus, eDiscovery attorneys come with an extra, and often overlooked benefit -- their advice to clients is privileged, unlike that of eDiscovery vendors.
Step Two: Vendors
One of the biggest challenges with eDiscovery is gathering thousands (or millions) of pieces of electronically stored information -- ESI that come from different sources and is stored in different formats -- into a single, reviewable format. Thankfully, there are plenty of companies out there ready to help you and your client out.
But beware: not every product will match your needs and not every eDiscovery matter will need the same solution. Enter your eDiscovery counsel. A sophisticated, experienced eDiscovery attorney should be able to evaluate the vendor market and pick the best products for your litigation strategy.
Step Three: Forensic Experts
Your forensic expert helps identify, preserve, collect, and analyze electronic information. If you need to recover information from an electronic device, for example, your forensic expert will need to create a mirror image of the machine, bit-by-bit. And as an expert, they are often called on to prepare an expert opinion and provide expert testimony.
Because of the complexity of digital forensic work, when selecting your forensic expert, experience and technical expertise are key.
Step Four: Know Where to Get Good Advice
Of course, eDiscovery is much too vast and complex an area to cover in a single blog post. Thankfully, you have plenty of helpful materials available to you. Resources like Thomson Reuters Aspatore's "Electronic Discovery and Records and Information Management Guide: Rules, Checklists, and Forms" can be an invaluable resource. (Disclosure: Aspatore is one of FindLaw's sister companies.)
This book provides a comprehensive guide to eDiscovery, from pre-litigation records management to spoliation to rapidly developing case law. With more than 50 checklists and over 100 eDiscovery forms, it's got everything you need to get you through eDiscovery successfully.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.