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Why Companies with Intellectual Property Should Have a Standard Process for eDiscovery

by Brian Schrader, Esq., BIA

Office_StockImage_It’s no secret that companies that deal in intellectual property (IP) face frequent litigation, and in today’s digital world, that leads to an almost constant need to prepare and present relevant electronic data in response.

The process of preserving, collecting, filtering, reviewing and producing data is known as electronic discovery. Over the past few decades, eDiscovery has become a well-established industry, yet when the need arises for eDiscovery in response to litigation, many companies tend to reinvent the wheel each time by taking an ad hoc approach to the process—which leads to unnecessary chaos, business disruption, and increased risks and costs.

By standardizing the eDiscovery process, IP companies can avoid headaches and minimize their risk, all while reducing interruptions and costs.

So, what does an effective eDiscovery process look like?

  • It should be standardized. Take the guesswork and panic out of handling data for litigation by creating a standard eDiscovery plan. Clearly outline the procedures that should be followed in any legal matter that arises and assign responsibilities to specific individuals. Train all employees on this process and make sure the plan is followed consistently from case to case. A detailed guide that outlines protocols and best practices will help you develop defensible processes, lower costs, maintain control of your data and shorten the litigation lifecycle. Think of it like a playbook for the whole team to follow to get through the game without injury.
  • It should be streamlined. Consider using one seamless platform to manage your legal holds, data preservation, targeted collections, data culling and more, all from one place. Having a single platform to handle these tasks will help automate processes, increase efficiency and cut costs while allowing you to easily produce reports and meet necessary compliance obligations. Look for a solution that allows you to easily move your collected and culled data into the review platform of your choice, ensuring you remain in control of your data. Today’s cloud-based eDiscovery solutions allow you to be prepared without having to spend any money on capital expenditures like computer hardware and software.
  • It should include instructions on when to use TAR – and when not to. Technology-assisted review (TAR) involves using computer software to electronically classify documents. It can be a great asset in the eDiscovery process, as it can dramatically reduce the time, effort and costs required to review data. TAR technologies can aid in the processes of finding relevant data by providing predictive coding, visual analytics, continuous active learning and more. Using TAR at the outset of the document review process will increase the accuracy of the review, lower the risk of mistakes and improve efficiency.
  • It is also important to understand when TAR may not be the best solution. Using TAR on some types of data, such as spreadsheets or files with multiple formulas, can actually make the review process more difficult and less accurate. Work with an experienced team that understands what types of data will be reviewed – whether it’s documents and emails or primarily spreadsheets – and can help you determine when it makes sense to use TAR and when it doesn’t.
  • It should indicate when outside help is necessary. eDiscovery projects vary widely in size and complexity, so set a threshold for how much your company can handle on its own and when to bring in a consultant or outside vendor to assist. It’s also important to select a primary provider for that outside assistance. Using a consistent team across all your matters will increase accuracy and efficiency, save time and money and allow you to build, maintain and leverage institutional knowledge across matters.
  • It should include data and knowledge reuse. Another way to speed up the eDiscovery process is to use relevant information that was already gathered or created for previous cases. By creating a data repository, a company can reuse relevant work product across different matters, rather than having to collect and tag the same data for multiple cases. The ability to reuse both the data itself and the knowledge learned with each new matter saves a great deal of time and money while simultaneously making the eDiscovery process smoother and more precise.
  • It should be ongoing. Perhaps most importantly, don’t wait for litigation to arise to keep track of your data and manage it. All the steps of eDiscovery are infinitely easier if data is continually organized as it’s accrued. In an industry that deals in often sensitive data, such as the IP industry, your company should have a standard way to store and locate data so it is easily accessible if needed for a legal matter.

While litigation can be stressful, eDiscovery doesn’t have to be if companies are prepared. And it doesn’t take much more than a few discussions to get prepared. With these best practices in place, IP companies can keep the chaos at bay and implement a smooth, consistent eDiscovery process for everyone involved.


 

BrianSchraderBrian Schrader, Esq., is President of BIA (www.biaprotect.com), a leader in reliable, innovative and cost-effective eDiscovery services. With early career experience in information management, computer technology and the law, Brian co-founded BIA in 2002 and has since developed the firm’s reputation as an industry pioneer and a trusted partner for corporations and law firms around the world. He can be reached at bschrader@biaprotect.com.

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