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How To Be an e-Discovery 'Shark'

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

With the Discovery Channel's famed "Shark Week" already upon us, lawyers using e-discovery could learn a thing or two. Sharks are slimy predators who ruthlessly scour the oceans for tasty morsels, constantly working to improve their methods of zeroing in on just the right information.

Here are a few tips on how to become an e-discovery shark and take a bite out of your competition.

Keep Your Costs Low

Sharks are mercilessly efficient, and their e-discovery shark counterparts won't be throwing money all over the place gathering far too much information and then sorting through it. They will focus their shark eyes on the material bits and go right for the kill. For example, take a page out of the Federal Circuit's playbook, and focus only on gathering discovery that is material to your case.

It may be easy to forget that millions of pages can easily fit on a few PDFs, but the costs for either side of processing, producing, and reviewing them can make unfocused fishing expeditions using e-discovery just as expensive.

Choose the Right Vendor

The Discovery Channel doesn't often (o.k., doesn't ever) show sharks sitting on their laptops researching e-discovery vendors, but it is paramount for e-discovery sharks to do their homework before taking a plunge with an vendor.

Don't let the cold, unfeeling shark analogy fool you, your relationship with your digital discovery vendor should be one forged from trust, a trust based on these foundations:

  • Vendor's experience in your field
  • Experienced, loyal employees
  • Command of well developed in-house software or industry standard tools
  • Good security protocols and procedures
  • Large enough to grow with your needs

The last thing you want is to be left behind by a vendor that is more manatee than shark.

Don't Make e-Mistakes

Just like with "Plain Jane" paper discovery, you need to keep moving like the e-discovery shark you are to avoid court sanctions for mishandling evidence.

You can just as easily embarrass yourself and your clients in court by not getting your practice up to speed on actually using e-discovery tools (it can even happen with Microsoft Word) which may lead to inadvertent discovery to adverse parties.

Keeping these tips in mind will give you the shark-skin traction you need to impress your clients and terrify your competition.

Editor's Note, June 28, 2016: This post was first published in August, 2013. It has since been updated.

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