The Time Machine
In modern litigation, lawyers have access to a time machine. Through the discovery process, lawyers can review the massive quantity of information kept about… everything. E-mails, photos, location records, accounting records; they are all recorded, time-stamped, and stored indefinitely.
Getting the records is hard enough, but after the information is obtained, searching through the haystack for your needle may seem impossible.
The appeal of the time machine can get lost, buried in tens of millions of irrelevant pages.
Obtaining help from a third party vendor can feel like ordering off a foreign-language menu, only the consequences of a mistake are more dire. Once you have figured out what service to order, a few cents per page or megabyte turns into a bill for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. How much should a service cost? Can you do it yourself for less? Is it even necessary?
Once you have the data, in the right format, and the machines to review it, you still need a process to search through that information efficiently. Lawyers often go into auto-pilot and start reviewing pages one-by-one, forgetting that such a process would take years to finish (and even then, is inferior compared to other reviewing methods).
Get Control of Your Case
Having an attorney familiar with e-discovery, on your side, is vital in the modern era of litigation. Not having such an attorney exposes you at every step of the way, because you want to:
- know what documents may be secretly kept by your adversary (perhaps unknown to their lawyers, or even their clients)
- argue effectively for electronic information’s production
- cogently demand the format the records are produced in
- negotiate effectively with your document vendors for the right price and the right service
- have the most efficient, cost-effective technology to search the data
- equip your team with the most efficient and effective process to review the data
- collaborate effectively with a team of lawyers all working off the same data bank to build one, uniform case without duplicating work or leaving gaps
In other words, you want control of your case.
A lawyer versed in e-discovery can give you that control.
This is not about getting an “edge.” An edge implies a slight advantage over a less-prepared party. When litigating a case with relevant electronic information in play, mistakes are catastrophic. In cases with electronically stored information, knowledge of e-discovery is mandatory to be an effective litigator–you must either learn it yourself, or acquire a teammate who speaks the language already. Otherwise, you risk destroying your case and bankrupting your firm.
Despite that caution, this era of litigation is a huge step forward, particularly for plaintiffs. The exponential increase in the number of records has led to an exponential increase in the power of systems used to search those records. Especially against massive defendants, with seemingly massive power, any plaintiff can bring a Goliath to its knees if the truth sleeps in their e-mail accounts.
As a litigator experienced with e-discovery, working on a contract, per-hour basis, I can provide you the ultimate in flexibility when dealing with an e-discovery case. I can help you with the e-discovery components of litigation, but I can also work on the case like any associate would. Not only do you get a competent, by the hour litigator, you get someone who can turn a minefield into a powerhouse.
Photo credit: “H.A.L. 9000” by Gianmaria Zanotti.