During discovery, you’re excited to dig into the collection of documents the opposing side just shared with you in response to your requests for production—that is, until you realize that they’ve given you the dreaded document dump. There is no discernible organization to what you’ve received, and you have millions of documents to sort through in hopes of finding the evidence you need to support your case. How can you handle this eDiscovery dilemma?
Here are four steps that you can take to manage any—but especially an unwieldy—document production from opposing counsel.
1. Make a backup copy of the received data set.
Before you do anything with the data—do not pass go, do not collect $200—make a copy of the opposing party’s production for safekeeping. It can be tempting to access the data immediately, but any steps you take to load the data into your network may lead to spoliation of data as well as security issues, including viruses, so proceed cautiously.
2. Check the Bates range for the production.
If you’ve received earlier productions in this matter, check to be sure that the first document is sequentially numbered. If there is a gap in Bates numbers between the productions that isn’t accounted for (whether in a privilege log or otherwise), ask the opposing party for details about the missing documents. If the Bates numbers do not match or consist of entirely new Bates ranges, you may find that the opposing party has reproduced records previously produced in a different matter. Also check for overlapping Bates ranges to determine whether the files are duplicates or were misnumbered inadvertently. Straightening out the document sequencing is imperative to avoid issues later in discovery.
3. Review the format of the production.
Did the opposing party produce files in the manner you agreed upon in your discovery conference? Are the documents in TIFF, PDF, or native format? Did you receive the load files for images, metadata, and text that you need to upload the documents to a review platform? Are metadata fields, such as authors, recipients, dates, custodians, and the like, missing?
Also check whether the relationships between documents are intact and whether they match what you agreed upon with opposing counsel. If, for example, the documents are produced willy-nilly, with no indication of the relationship between emails and their attachments, it can become nearly impossible to determine the proper sequencing of information.
If the opposing party did not produce documents in the appropriate format, they may require further processing to render the documents searchable or to extract the metadata, for instance. If there are significant problems with the production, hold off on working with the documents until you confer with opposing counsel to request a replacement production.
4. Load the data into a review tool equipped with data analytics.
To save time—and money—on document review, narrow the documents for review by filtering them with dates, keywords, and the like, much as you would your own data collections. By choosing an eDiscovery platform with built-in data analytics tools, you can avoid the expense of manual review and group documents for a more efficient review.
For more tips on how to process and review data you receive in discovery from opposing counsel, get in touch.