New Zealand Law Society - E-discovery at a glance

E-discovery at a glance

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“I think one of the issues these days is the volume of information that is out there,” says Andrew King, an independent consultant at E-Discovery Consulting.

“It’s gotten to the stage that people are needing to use software to make the laborious task of discovery more efficient. That’s where the e-discovery solutions come in to help legal staff with that laborious, monotonous task.”

How it works

The goal of e-discovery technology is to identify, preserve, collect, secure and produce an amount of electronically stored information (ESI) that is agreed upon by both sides, is defensible in litigation and is easily accessible through modern technology.

After the evidence is compiled physically, it is then scanned and copied into the e-discovery software system.

Once this electronic data is identified by the relevant parties, all documents – hard copy and electronic – are collected, extracted and filtered, with relevant data divided into easily searchable and accessible folders.

Information can be stored in categories for easy searching.

Redaction is also possible when documents are put into PDF format with notes accompanying these changes, which are easily tracked.

Some companies offer a similar form of document detection, providing more direct search boundaries for sorting through hundreds, or even thousands, of files.

After both parties have performed their respective edits, looked over the content, and are in agreement with what has been collected, a legal hold is placed on it to prevent tampering.

Accessibility in New Zealand, and the cost

New Zealand-centric technology is hard to come by. Luckily, the general function of all e-discovery software is the same across the board.

The only difference, like most companies who produce similar products, is in the e-discovery packages from the many legal technology companies that offer it.

“Sometimes the matters that people are working on are a lot more complex and have a higher volume of documents and might cost a bit more, while some of the other options are quite a cost effective option,” says Andrew King.

The costs vary depending on the requirement.

Security

As cybercrime becomes an increasing problem, security is a concern when picking e-discovery software and its hosts.

“What I’ve noticed in the past three to four years is that the security is at a high level,” Mr King says.

“The security mechanisms [associated with e-discovery] provide many levels ... security that I would probably say would be at a higher level than what most smaller law firms would be running themselves on their own server.”

Most New Zealand firms are small and not immune to cyber security breaches.

Servers that host e-discovery software “… all have to meet certain international standards to be a provider of e-discovery software,” Mr King says.

A lot of the software is hosted through larger international online servers operated by some of the biggest names in technology.

Amazon and Google are two of the largest hosts and both meet the international security standards. This means that if the data centre blows up, they have backup procedures so files won’t be lost forever.

Some starting places

“A lot of people think that software is the be-all and end-all but I still find that, like with anything else in litigation and the discovery process, it’s the practices and processes that you put in place that are important and that you equip yourself with the right tools to go about this,” Mr King says.

“I think, sometimes, people spend too much time thinking we must get a particular tool and that will solve all our problems, however a lot of them are exactly the same, but some of them have more powerful features than others.”

If you’re new to this concept, a good place to start is looking at companies like Ringtail, Relativity, and Everlaw. These are globally recognised e-discovery products.

If you want something a little closer to home, LawFlow is New Zealand’s answer to international e-discovery software. It is designed to support the High Court and District Court discovery rules and offers e-discovery packages for all file sizes.

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