52 RI Bar J., No. 1, Pg. 7 (July, 2003). Electronic Discovery Basics.


Rhode Island Bar Journal

Volume 52.

52 RI Bar J., No. 1, Pg. 7 (July, 2003).

Electronic Discovery Basics

Electronic Discovery BasicsTOBY BROWNPresident, Roberts Brown LLC and Technology Consultant to the Rhode Island Bar AssociationThe discovery of electronic information is likely the hottest topic in legal technology. Given that a significant share of personal and business information exists originally or exclusively in electronic form, litigators are faced with electronic discovery (e-discovery) on an expanding scale. This article will help you understand the basics of e-discovery and help prepare you for the inevitable.

DefinitionE-discovery is the process of acquiring and presenting electronic information in the discovery phase of litigation. The emphasis here is on process. Effective e-discovery utilizes a process that ensures the integrity of the information and enables presentation of the same for depositions and court appearances. The process generally consists of retrieving electronic information, organizing and indexing it, presenting it in a searchable format, enabling document production with the information, and finally packaging it for presentations.

Initially, e-discovery has focused mainly on discovering e-mail files. The pervasive use of e-mail in communications has made this a likely target for requests. But, as lawyers have found valuable discovery information within the e-mail files, they have ventured further out into other file types and even into computer forensics.

The ProcessAcquisitionDiscovery requests for electronic information are much the same as regular discovery requests, except for spoliation issues. When you make a discovery request you should include a "preservation of evidence" statement within the request. This basically says the responding party needs to take steps to insure the integrity and availability of electronic information. Since information on hard drives can be more easily damaged, this is a good idea.

E-mail files are the likeliest target of e-discovery requests. These files usually come in the form of .pst files. This file format is produced by MS Outlook and includes all of the information from this program, including calendar items, journal entries and tasks. Acquiring and processing these file types is a job best left to experts. The average size of one of these files is typically 250 megabytes. Therefore, you...

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