By Brian Schrader, Esq.
Electronic discovery has become a normal course of business in the legal field. It’s said that a lawyer should never appear in court without the whole story, and these days, most of the “story” is electronic.
Yet, while eDiscovery is founded in litigation, its processes and platforms can prove valuable to any business that desires to manage, investigate and improve from its data.
What is eDiscovery?
eDiscovery is the process of working with electronically stored information (ESI) for a legal matter or investigation – identifying, preserving, collecting, searching, reviewing, analyzing and producing relevant files. The goal is to mine the mountains of data to, ultimately, discover the few files that are the nuggets of gold that make or break the case.
Those files can be in the form of Microsoft Word documents, emails, browser search histories, text messages, Slack chats, social media posts or other related files. They may be found on computers, phones, servers, external hard drives, the cloud and other places. They may be common file types or proprietary. Once those files are collected, they all need to be handled in a similar manner, which can require specific technologies for formatting, viewing and making notes.
How does that relate to my business?
The eDiscovery process is essential to litigation, so the legal industry has taken the lead on these technologies and procedures, honing and enhancing them so that the result is standardized, innovative, secure and informative.
The good news is that these advanced technologies and refined procedures can be used for more than legal matters. They can help businesses discover information on an everyday basis. And you may already be using eDiscovery in your business. Here are four key ways to take advantage of existing processes and platforms to improve your business:
- Deep data analytics
Every organization has countless gigabytes of data. Most of it is just sitting there only being used to complete everyday tasks. That, of course, makes sense. But when you can look at all of your data together and from a higher level, you can work with your company’s own “big data.” Analytics platforms allow you to gain insights into your data – to know who is doing what when, to do a Google-like search on all of your data, to cluster files according to topic and to easily graph out trends. The more you work with your data, the more you will see what you can do.
- Advanced business intelligence
As you conduct data analysis, you will be better able to make informed decisions that move your business forward. You can delve into specifics to solve problems and identify – and mitigate – risk. You can review historic information to predict and plan for what is coming in the future. You can run reports to show patterns and gaps. The tools enable your data to work for you, allowing you to find connections you otherwise would not see, so you can plan and strategize effectively.
- Efficient corporate investigations
Many corporations have to deal with internal investigations, and eDiscovery platforms and procedures can cut through obstacles and minimize the time spent on such tasks. Searching emails, hard drives and computer files during an investigation becomes much quicker and easier with eDiscovery platforms. The tools can help you remove clutter and find what you need, be it related to data theft, unauthorized access, inappropriate behavior or other issues. You can find the proverbial needle in your digital haystack. That said, if the matter may escalate to litigation, an outside party may need to be brought in to handle any necessary forensic imaging, employ additional investigative techniques and software, and ensure defensibility in court.
- Comprehensive information governance
eDiscovery tools can be used to get and keep control of your data. From mapping where the data is to collecting everything in one easily manageable repository to allowing you to easily archive or delete files, legal technology platforms can help you handle everything more effectively. Plus, your customized eDiscovery processes can be expanded to include detailed data management policies, covering things like BYOD or securing data from departing employees.
If your company is involved in any legal matters, you’ve probably used eDiscovery, whether or not you realize it. Harness that power for other parts of your business. Data that was once unstructured can be organized and categorized, and therefore much more useful to the organization. Plus, the platforms and processes are built with security in mind, so you can trust that your data is safe.
As data is growing exponentially, companies want to do everything they can to cut costs associated with them. Your company probably already uses or has access to legal technology platforms, either internally or through counsel or a vendor. Take advantage of that and make your data an asset. Using eDiscovery technologies can assist your business in making decisions, lowering risk and streamlining investigations, which will ultimately save your organization time, money and personnel.
Brian Schrader, Esq., is President & CEO of BIA (www.biaprotect.com), a leader in reliable, innovative and cost-effective eDiscovery services. With early career experience in information management, computer technology and the law, Brian co-founded BIA in 2002 and has since developed the firm’s reputation as an industry pioneer and a trusted partner for corporations and law firms around the world. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.