Five Ways to Cut Collection Costs

DataMinerThe costs of collecting data are a big component of the overall eDiscovery bill when you’re the producing party. It’s often a toss up — do you over collect to save time and money or conduct a targeted collection where you get only what you need to preserve?

While every case is different (a DOJ second request is different than a run of the mill contract matter), here are 5 good ways that we’ve found to keep those collection costs in check.

1. Image Your Own Hard Drives.

One of the biggest issues in collection is that custodians store their data locally and you have to decide whether to pay the cost to image the whole drive and deal with ALL of that data vs. collecting only what you need to in person with the custodian. We do both, but for our clients with many matters each year, we encourage them to do this to save costs.

Many eDiscovery folks will scoff at this suggestion, but the bottom line is money.  You (or your IT department) can purchase a tool from a forensics provider (we like the TD-3 from Digital Intelligence) that can make a forensic image of any hard drive (it comes with multiple cables for different types of drives).  IT keeps it and then images the drive when a matter comes up and sends the image to the provider.  The person making the images needs to be trained on the tool and follow a written process of how it’s done every single time for defensibility purposes.  Note that we are not suggesting you compromise process or do something less than is required for preservation, simply that you can do this in-house if you set up proper process and use the right equipment.

You (the attorney asking for the imaging) will need to have oversight of the process, and document chain of custody.  Make sure to have standard fields of information that are collected for each drive, and that it’s loaded into the image file for extraction by the provider handling the data after imaging.

NOTE:  For extremely sensitive matters, such as most trade secret theft cases, fraud or governmental matters, or any case where you think you are likely to be challenged on ESI issues, having a forensic provider come in to create the image is likely the best route to minimize the risk of damage to evidence and any question of custody and expertise.  

2. Standardize How Sharepoint is Used in Your Organization.

Most organizations set up a team site for a project, but they also have several other locations in Sharepoint where different groups in the company can store data.

More often than not, collection from Sharepoint means finding the various places where data is stored — which doesn’t happen until you physically sit down with the custodian and look at their machine.  Then, you have to make sure you have access to get to all of the places where responsive data might exist — yes, you read that right, you have to find the actual person that can access the data.  That is not always easy in a constantly morphing corporate environment, and it can be expensive if you have to go through it multiple times.

3. Have a Liaison for all Collections to Go Through.

One point person can save time and money by helping you get all your ducks lined up before meeting in person for a collection.  In order to make a forensic copy of data on a computer, you have to be able to access that computer with a foreign drive and be able to run software to do the imaging (this assumes targeted collection, not imaging an entire drive as in #1).

For example, if I want to use FTK Imager software  on a hard drive and plug it into a laptop to collect certain files, I need to be able to access the computer to run new software.  Many IT departments lock their systems down to prevent this, and you will need support to physically access the computer.

Your IT liaison can help you set that up so you don’t sit around at the client waiting on deskside support.  Your client has a business to work on, and you are spending profits.  Make them count.

4. Know What’s “Reasonable” For Preservation and Collection.

You need to make decisions on the fly about what to collect when meeting with a custodian, e.g. whether the 20 files in front of you are relevant.  For example, the case is about the design of a product, and most of the information you are seeing is about testing.  Should you collect it and hold it? Maybe, but you need to think about cost implications for review as well.  Have a game plan so you can make those calls as needed.  More face to face time with a custodian means more time and money.

5. Have One Person or Firm Be in Charge of Managing Your eDiscovery.

The way to control costs is to leverage your internal resources and create a process that works for your business.  Knowledge of an organization’s IT environment and the details of how to handle a collection pays off in cost savings.   Reinventing the wheel each time does not.  And you’ll have higher risk that not everything was done properly.

One more tip — document everything you do for collection, including the decisions about what not to collect and why. When you have to go back to it six months later, or defend your actions in court, you’ll be glad you did.

There are no comments so far

Leave a Comment

Don't worry. We never use your email for spam.