Can you in-house e-discovery processing?

Guidance Software Most of e-discovery used to be outsourced to law firms and vendors. Over the past several years, surveys have shown consistent growth in the number of organizations that choose to bring parts of the e-discovery process in-house. By in-sourcing e-discovery, companies can manage the process like most business functions. The organization can hand-select skilled employees to assume ownership, and these employees, in turn, can hone a reliable, consistent and defensible e-discovery strategy that can be replicated for each matter. This kind of control and predictability mitigates risk and reduces costs.

However, to say that many companies have brought e-discovery in-house is somewhat of a misrepresentation of the facts. It's true that a large number of organizations — more than half, according to studies — have moved to in-source certain steps of the e-discovery process. Yet, there is still one area that in-house counsel continues to outsource more often than not — processing.

According to a recent survey of in-house counsel, more than 50 percent of companies have devised some sort process for collecting electronically stored information, issuing legal holds, and a significant number of businesses also have brought analysis and first-pass review in-house as well. However, only a small fraction have actually attempted to in-source processing.

Processing certainly is one of the more misunderstood components of e-discovery. You can easily surmise what collection and review entail even if you're an e-discovery rookie. Processing, on the other hand, is vague. Many see it as the magic black box of the e-discovery assembly line. Clumps of data go in one side and come out the other end neatly refined and repackaged.

But the truth is processing doesn't have to be a daunting and mysterious task. In fact, with the right set of tools, any e-discovery team can in-source data processing. The reduction of data and the cost reduction achieved at the review stage can benefit these organizations.

At its core, processing is when extraneous data is siphoned out of a collection. The remaining potentially responsive data can then be sorted and sent down the e-discovery workflow to be analyzed and reviewed. Extraneous information can mean a number of things. It may be e-mail duplicates, or it may mean data that falls outside a specific date range. What data is and is not relevant will depend on the specifics of the case and the discovery request.

A product like EnCase® eDiscovery from Guidance Software demonstrates how in-sourcing processing can be a reality. The software provides users with the ability to sort data using a variety of criteria, including keywords, date ranges and file types. Plus its intuitive graphical interface makes it easily navigable for non-tech users.

As e-discovery continues to become just another business function, more companies are going to realize the benefits of in-sourcing the process. Although bringing litigation hold requests, collection and preservation is a start, it certainly is not the end for many organizations. As in-house counsel become informed about the tools available to them, other e-discovery functions, including processing, will be moved in-house.

Learn how EnCase® eDiscovery can help you with data processing.

Learn more about EnCase® eDiscovery.

Russ Gould is director of product marketing at Guidance Software.

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