eDiscovery Production: Evaluation of Production Files

When producing documents, it is important that the production be carefully quality checked by the producing party prior to release of the data. The discovery requests and any subsequent agreements concerning the scope and format of the production should be reviewed for both technical and legal compliance. Someone with technical skills should spot check the data, images and load file before production. This is true whether the processing is done by the in-house litigation support department of a company or law firm or if it is done by a vendor.

If the data was reviewed in native format and the production set is images of the native files, the images should be checked to ensure that they accurately represent the native files. For example, a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation that was reviewed in its native application and then converted into a TIFF image may not contain the speaker notes that an author created to accompany the presentation slides. A spreadsheet may contain hidden rows or columns which may or may not be viewable when the file is converted to image format, depending on the specifications provided for the TIFF conversion. There are risks of either producing data that has not been reviewed or conversely not producing relevant non-privileged data that has been reviewed but does not appear in the imaged version of the file. Thorough documentation of the process of review and conversion of the native files to image format and checking for consistency can assist in mitigating these risks.

Handling Redactions

Redactions are particularly tricky, and it is important to understand exactly what is being produced and how redacted information is impacted by the form in which you are producing. You may also want to check each redacted document to be sure the image was accurately redacted, or if that is not practical, spot check them. If you are producing native files you will not be able to redact information from the document without altering the document. If a native file has information that must be redacted, it will have to be converted to image. If you produce full extracted text, you must be sure that the full text file is "redacted" as well as the image. A suggestion is to redact the image, re-scan that image in its redacted form, OCR the redacted image and substitute the OCR text of the redacted image for the full extracted text for that file.

Keep an Exact Copy

As with all productions, be sure to make and retain an exact copy of the media being produced.

Evaluation Procedures

The technical team member(s) should always evaluate the production documents received, as well as those being produced. Immediately upon receipt of production media, conduct a preliminary review of the data and provide a memo to the lead attorney, paralegal or team about what was received and an assessment as to completeness and ability to load the data into a review platform. Include information about missing components and steps that will have to be taken to make the data usable (or, if applicable, information about why data cannot be made usable). Include an estimate of the cost and time necessary to make the data usable. Include vendor costs, in-house costs and outside counsel fees if applicable.

If an attorney must communicate with opposing counsel to request a new production set, provide draft language in layman's terms that can be used to explain the problems and the requested solutions. Be available to talk or meet with opposition's vendor or technical person to communicate about your specifications and the issues with the data and load file you received.

Source: EDRM (edrm.net)