Discovery is the term used for the initial phase of litigation where the parties in a dispute are required to provide each other relevant information and records, along with all other evidence related to the case.
The key to addressing e-Discovery is to be proactive in the management of information and records with control over the handling of potential e-discovery requests.
e-Discovery is short for electronic discovery, which is defined as the process of discovery in civil litigation that is carried out in electronic formats. It encompasses what most often is referred to as electronically stored information, or ESI.
Examples of the types of ESI included are emails, instant messaging chats, documents, accounting databases, CAD/CAM files, Web sites, and any other electronic information that could be relevant evidence in a lawsuit. Also included in ediscovery are “raw data” and “metadata,” which forensic investigators can review for hidden evidence.
e-Discovery legal process
As a practice, eDiscovery runs from the time a lawsuit is foreseeable to the time the digital evidence is presented in court. At a high level, the process is as follows:
- Data is identified as relevant by attorneys and placed on legal hold.
- Attorneys from both sides determine scope of discovery, identify the relevant ESI, and make eDiscovery requests and challenges. Search parameters can be negotiated with an opposing counsel or auditor to identify what is being searched and to ensure needed evidence is identified and non-evidence is screened out, thereby reducing the overall effort required to search, review, and produce it.
- Evidence is then extracted and analyzed using digital forensic procedures, and is usually converted into PDF or TIFF form for use in court. It often can be advantageous to use pattern and trend identification and other analytical search techniques here so these tasks can be performed more efficiently and make less use of expensive human resources.