Defining the target scope of E-discovery
On June 11, 2014, I posted a blog entry about the two things I always do for my attorneys to make their job easier regarding E-discovery. During that post, I talked about a matrix of questions and a check list for defining the scope of E-discovery. When dealing with any new litigation case I always reminded my attorneys of the things they need to ask the client for my discovery process. In terms of E-discovery, that includes finding out the “Who, What & Where” of E-discovery. I usually create a matrix for my attorney to use throughout the case.
“Who” of E-discovery
In my previous post, I mentioned a lot about the “Who”. As an overview, paralegals must identify (or at the least) remind the attorney to obtain a list of all key player/Technology Personnel/ IT who may have any relevant information or access to the ESI . The list of “Who” should be the first thing on your matrix.
“What & Where” of E-discovery
The next on my matrix of questions is to define the scope of what E-discovery is all about. What my attorney might want and where he/she may find it. I typically include the name of the most common locations, software applications, and technological names of items. This helps my attorney decide what information he/she needs to obtain from the client.
This description should include details of: the client’s computer system and ESI storage, including, but not limited to; hardware systems (the amount and types of computers), operating systems, and software applications, including customized applications, with graphical representations (if available).
Remember this means we are wanting information about:
A. Servers and Mainframes
B. Network file systems
C. Shared Network Drives Folder Structure
D. Individual User Network Drives Folder Structure
F. Hard Drives Folder Structure
G. Voice mail
H. Fax machines (The new networkable ones usually store data as well)
E. The “Cloud” (If the client uses Google documents, sky drive, GO Clio, & My Case etc. are all Clouds).
The next item on my matrix of E-discovery questions for my attorneys is: does he/she want to obtain a detailed description of the architecture of the electronic mail system, including, but not limited to; server, workstation software versions, lists of e-mail users, and location of e-mail files, folders and archived emails.
I always remind my attorneys that email systems are often integrated with contact lists, calendars, and to-do lists; all of which may contain relevant ESI.
The third item I place on the matrix for my attorneys is to think about when he/she interviews the client, should we obtain the names, locations, and type of custodians of ESI such as:
A. Local hard drives on work computers (desktops and laptops)
B. Personal home computers, including laptops, tablets and netbooks
C. PDAs / Cellphones / iPhones / Android Phones/ Blackberries
D. CD-ROMs / DVDs
E. Thumb drives / Flash media
F. Removable / portable hard drives
G. Floppy diskettes
H. Zip disks
I. Data archives (e.g., tape archives, cloud archives, etc.)
J. Digital cameras
K. Third-party data archives:
a. Social media sites (including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter)
b. Ask the client whether employees are using personal email and instant messaging accounts (e.g., Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, AIM, Skype etc.) for business purposes. Typically; a certain amount of these emails are maintained on a client’s personal computers, but much more data is kept at the “source” vendor, e.g., kept at Google.
The fifth item on my E-discovery matrix is all about policies and procedures. Attorneys are often extremely busy folks; and a lot have different people handling the day-to-day running of their law practice. Therefore, some attorneys may not always remember that a lot of companies have policies and procedures written down. I always jot down all the items I can think of to help cultivate my attorneys thought process for discoverable items.
These written polices of the computer-use may include but are not limited to:
A. employee guidelines
B. company policies on e-mail usage
C. company policies on Internet usage
D. password use
E. security controls
F. information sharingRemember, E-discovery is all the electronic documents, emails and data the client stores. Therefore, the above items are all things that may influence how a paralegal may assist his/her attorney in the collection and reviewing of E-discovery. It is essential for both paralegals and attorneys to know where ESI documentation may be located, but ultimately it is the licensed attorneys call to decide what information is obtained from the client and what information is not. My matrix of common E-discovery questions is only a guide for my attorney to insure we do not overlook a critical piece of evidence.
Thanks for reading come back tomorrow for a list of state that now have e-discovery rules!
Please remember this blog post is not intended to be construed as legal advice. Best Virtual Paralegal, LLC is not a law firm and cannot provide legal representation or advice. The purpose of its services is to assist attorneys and this blog provides tips to attorneys and paralegal and is only intended a general information.
If you have come to this blog with a specific legal question or complex problem, you should seek a licensed attorney of your choosing. Best Virtual Paralegal, LLC’s paralegal services are only available to licensed attorneys.
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Disclaimer: This blog and its writer are not held liable for any content republished or used by others. This blog has been edited by Jennifer Dudenhoeffer. Any personal information is made private and cannot be shared by third parties.. This blog is not intended to be legal advice. Further, this blog is the personal opinions of the writer and is not intended to be a legal analysis of any legal topic and should not be a substitution for an attorney. If you have come to this blog with a specific legal issue or problem, seek the advice of a licensed attorney of your own choosing. This blog article is for general information only. All paralegal tasks should be supervised by a licensed attorney.