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Industry Experts from Relativity and Insight Optix Discuss Operationalizing Proportionality

By John Patzakis

Industry experts including Relativity eDiscovery attorney David Horrigan, Relativity Product Manager Greg Evans and Insight Optix CEO Mandi Ross addressed utilizing cutting-edge ESI collection processes and technologies to effectuate proportionality in a recent webinar. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1), parties may discover any non-privileged material that is relevant to any party’s claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case. Lawyers that take full advantage of the proportionality rule can greatly reduce cost, time and risk associated with otherwise inefficient eDiscovery. While proportionality is an often-discussed ideal sought by most legal stakeholders, especially corporate counsel, the discussion focused on how to use processes and best practices to operationally attain this goal.

David Horrigan first provided a detailed analysis of Rule 26(b)(1), and some key case law applying the proportionality rule, including McMaster v. Kohl’s Dep’t Stores, Inc., No. 18-13875 (E.D. Mich. July 24, 2020). Horrigan commented that McMaster generally supports the application of a process that effectively applies proportionality on an operational basis through an iterative exercise to identify relevant custodians, their data sources, applicable data ranges, file types and agreed upon keywords. Such a “targeted, automated and proportional” collection process can be applied to collect only the data that is responsive to this specific criteria.

Mandi Ross explained that proportionality is getting a further boost as George Washington University Law School is sponsoring the development of an important proportionality benefit-and-burden model that provides a practical structure for assessing claims of proportionality. The model features a heat map mechanism to identify relevant custodians and data sources to enable a more objective application of proportionality, thereby facilitating negotiations and better informing the bench. Mandi is key leader of a team of industry legal and technology exports drafting the GW Law model.

Mandi then outlined her typical workflow applying the aforementioned proportionality heat map in an iterative manner to identify key custodians, data sources, and the potentially relevant data itself. To effectuate this, Mandi noted that “X1 Distributed Discovery and Relativity Collect gives us the ability to understand the story the data tells, using (X1’s) index in-place and also allows us to optimize and target our collection efforts.”

To illustrate Mandi’s point, the webinar then featured a live demonstration showing X1 quickly collecting data across custodians from their laptops, fileservers or other network sources, and seamlessly importing that data into RelativityOne in minutes. Relativity Product Manager Greg Evans outlined how the Relativity/X1 integration streamlines eDiscovery processes by collapsing the many hand-offs built into current EDRM workflows to provide greater speed and defensibility. Evans also said that new normal of web-enabled collections of remote custodians and data sources was a major driver for the Relativity/X1 alliance, as “remote collections now represent 90 percent of all eDiscovery collections happening right now.”

The live demonstration performed by Greg Evans highlighted in real time how the integration improves the enterprise eDiscovery collection and ECA process by enabling a targeted, automated and proportional search and collection process, with immediate pre-collection visibility into custodial data. X1 Distributed Discovery enhances the eDiscovery workflow with integrated culling and deduplication, thereby eliminating the need for expensive and cumbersome electronically stored information (ESI) processing tools. That way, the ESI can be populated straight into Relativity from an X1 collection.

A recording of the webinar on proportionality can be accessed here.

And a link directly to the demo featuring the X1 and Relativity integration can be accessed here.

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Why Post-Level Parsing is Critical for Effective Social Media Evidence Collection

By John Patzakis

As succinctly noted by The Florida Bar Association in its publication, Florida Law Journal: “Social media is everywhere. Nearly everyone uses it. Litigants who understand social media–and its benefits and limitations–can immeasurably help their clients resolve disputes…it is inevitable that the social media accounts of at least one person involved in a dispute will have potentially relevant and discoverable information.“ “Social Media Evidence: What You Can’t Use Won’t Help You” Florida Law Journal, Volume 88, No. 1.

The high volume of relevant social media evidence means that lawyers are under an ethical duty of competence to address and account for it in their litigation and compliance matters. For this reason, there has been a strong demand for social media evidence collection software and services. However, Facebook, the most widely used social media platform, rolled out a completely new interface and data format in the latter part of 2020 for all their 2.4 billion users. This broke every social media evidence tool on the market, causing a major disruption of eDiscovery and compliance workflows. In response, social media evidence collection tools either exited the market, changed their model to services, or provided flat file screen shots as their output.

Flat file screen shots of social media are of limited value, as what they generally entail is a screenshot image file without metadata, other than what is visible on the image itself. This is problematic as there are many important but hidden metadata fields associated with social media posts that need to be parsed and populated into the appropriate fields associated with the post. Also, flat images do not enable effective text extraction, and it is impossible to cull, process, display, and apply analytics to flat file outputs in attorney review platforms such as Relativity. Associated comments to a post are not collected, or at best are truncated and not displayed in line.

Conversely, post-level native collection of social media is ideal, because it enables the collection of the social media post as a parent item with all associated metadata and comments preserved and displayed inline. This will enable the automated generation of robust load files that include date stamps and other key metadata, extracted text for searching, family post identification and associated comments. Additionally, post-level hash values can be readily generated at the point of collection and verified to establish evidentiary authentication.  All this enables a very fluid and scalable workflow that dramatically reduces downstream processing and review platform upload costs.

With the recent release of version 5.12, X1 Social Discovery is the only eDiscovery solution to provide post-level parsing for Facebook timeline posts in the new Facebook format, as well as for Twitter feeds. To learn more about this important functionality, watch the webinar.

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Moving Beyond Litigation Support

By Sonam Sharma, Senior Manager, X1
(Originally published on ILTAnet.org, February 19, 2021)

The age-old adage of change being the only constant has never been truer than in today’s times. With pandemic induced disruptions fast-tracking an already burgeoning impact of technology in day-to-day proceedings of your business and having a likewise impact in the lives of our clients, the ability to manage and react to this change must make all the difference between the longevity of your business and ensuring that you stay ahead of the market.

Over the last decade, a lot of energy has been spent towards understanding the pain points of the lawyers while constantly examining ways to reinvent to stay ahead of the competitors of varying scale, capabilities, and customer base. Change is inevitable but the transformation is a conscious choice. To navigate through a highly fluctuating market, we are witnessing law firms embracing change and revisiting their litigation support services and strategies to develop a unified and client-centric approach for their organizations. A focus on operational efficiency is becoming more about survival and excellence rather than a good-to-have organization priority.

So, what is this change that we are talking about?

The Legal industry is a fast pace world. Clients are rapidly outgrowing conventional models, largely as a result of how they are using technology in their everyday lives. As the expectations of the clients are ever-evolving, legal professionals need to find ways of delivering more seamless and client-centered experiences.

Client-facing services roles such as litigation support, legal assistants, and paralegals are the first points of contact for the commencement of legal work. These professionals play an important role in ensuring case proceedings go as smoothly as possible. However, due to the lack of synergies and functional silos between these groups the operational model can become obsolete/misaligned. “Over time, to maintain the efficiency of teams, it is important to focus on communications and the improvement of processes and procedures,” said Ardian Triantoro, Practice Support Manager, Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP.

To mitigate risks arising from process inefficiencies and to overcome organizational barriers, law firms need to bolster their capabilities by combining teams dealing with legal operations (such as clerks, paralegals, attorneys, and technical support).  and develop communication strategies between them. The goal is to streamline the legal operations workflow to provide a connected experience to the client.

There’s no better time to start the transformation than now!

The more progressive law firms are methodically building and systematically delivering work in-house. Leveraging a base of existing skills, experience, and vendor relationships, organizations have merged their Litigation Technology Support and operational support teams into the Practice Support department to deliver value to customers.

Leading law firms such as Kirkland & Ellis, Latham & Watkins, Baker & McKenzie, Schulte Roth & Zabel, LLP have implemented new ways to approach critical back-office operational functions. “For the law firms, it is not just about implementing the technology but to shift the focus from commoditized services to high-value expertise to recalibrate a more predictable pricing model that generates a cost-effective outcome of the case,” said Jared Michael Coseglia, Founder & CEO of award-winning legal staffing firm TRU Staffing, Inc.

So where can you start?

To prepare for the future, you should begin with a focus on the following areas:

  • Process: Strategize the ebbs and flows! Develop a communication map to help attorneys and staff members better understand the firm’s operating functions and how it fits together. Design effective processes that drive transparency and have a clear description of tasks and outcomes.
  • People: A starting point for assessing the firm’s capabilities is to determine skills, competencies, the talent available and create a capability map. Align skills with the evolving business needs and identify partnership opportunities with a focus on enabling attorneys to focus on long-term strategic decision-making; and
  • Technology: Understand the business needs and align the technology with the law firm organizational framework so that it is supporting the firm’s overall business objectives. It is about using technology to improve the old ways of working.

The more things change, law firms will see increased benefits from…

  • Seamless Client Service: Today, clients expect effortless experience from start to finish. It is critical to serving as a team member to the clients. By streamlining the processes internally, the practice support department acts as an all-in-one suite that law firms can leverage to build a repeatable and defensible process for optimal service delivery.
  • Efficiency Across Legal Ecosystem: Litigation professionals are masters in their field and have worked with a multitude of attorneys on countless cases over time. By utilizing in-house expertise, law firms can establish robust business practices to allow for quick and effective decision-making.
  • Reduced Costs: Staying on top of technology and constantly building expertise enables law firms to design custom-tailored solutions designed for cost efficiency and operational excellence.

Key Takeaway:  The problem is that this is easier said than done, but the actual mantra is not perfection; it is an iterative progression!

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Architecting a New Paradigm in Legal Governance

By Michael Rasmussen

Editor’s note: Today we are featuring a guest blog post from Michael Rasmussen, the GRC Pundit & Analyst at GRC 20/20 Research, LLC.

Exponential growth and change in business strategy, risks, regulations, globalization, distributed operations, competitive velocity, technology, and business data encumbers organizations of all sizes. Gone are the years of simplicity in business operations.

Managing the complexity of business from a legal and privacy perspective, governing information that is pervasive throughout the organization, and keeping continuous business and legal change in sync is a significant challenge for boards, executives, as well as the legal professionals in the legal department. Organizations need an integrated strategy, process, information, and technology architecture to govern legal, meet legal commitments, and manage legal uncertainty and risk in a way that is efficient, effective, and agile and extends into the broader enterprise GRC architecture.

In my previous blog, Operationalizing GRC in Context of Legal & Privacy: The Last Mile of GRC, I began this discussion, and here I aim to expound on it further from a legal context.

Legal today is more than legal matters, actions, and contracts. Today’s legal organization has to respond to incident/breach reporting and notification laws in a timely and compliant manner, respond to Data Subject Access Requests (DSAR), harmonize and monitor retentions obligations, conduct eDiscovery, manage legal holds on data, and continuously monitor regulations and legislation and apply them to a business context.

In today’s global business environment, a broad spectrum of economic, political, social, legal, and regulatory changes are continually bombarding the organization. The organization continues to see exponential growth of regulatory requirements and legal obligations (often conflicting and overlapping) that must be met, which multiply as the organization expands global operations, products, and services. This requires an integrated approach to legal governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC) with a goal to reliably achieve objectives while addressing uncertainty and act with integrity.[1] This includes adherence to mandatory legal requirements and voluntary organizational values and the boundaries each organization establishes. The legal department, with responsibility for understanding matter management, issue identification, investigations, policy management, reporting and filing, legal risk, and the regulatory obligations faced by the organization, is a critical player in GRC (what is understood as Enterprise or Integrated GRC), as well as improving GRC within the legal function itself.

A successful legal management information architecture will be able to connect information across risk management and business systems. This requires a robust and adaptable legal information architecture that can model the complexity of legal information, discovery, transactions, interactions, relationship, cause and effect, and the analysis of information, which can integrate and manage a range of business systems and external data. Key to this information architecture is a clear data inventory and map of information that informs the organization of what data it has, who in the organization owns it, what regulatory retention obligations are attached to it, and what third parties have access to it. This is a fundamental requirement for applying process and effectively operationalizing an organization’s GRC activities, as detailed in the previous blog.

There can and should be an integrated technology architecture that extends GRC technology and operationalizes it in a legal and privacy context. This connects the fabric of the legal processes, information, discovery, and other technologies together across the organization. This is a hub of operationalizing GRC and requires that it be able to integrate and connect with a variety of other business systems, such as specialized legal discovery solutions and integrate with broader enterprise GRC technology.

The right technology architecture choice for an organization involves the integration of several components into a core enterprise GRC and Legal GRC architecture – which can facilitate the integration and correlation of legal information, discovery, analytics, and reporting. Organizations suffer when they take a myopic view of GRC technology that fails to connect all the dots and provide context to discovery, business analytics, objectives, and strategy in the real-time that a business operates in. 

Extending and operationalizing GRC processes and technology in context of legal and privacy enables the organization to use its resources wisely to prevent undesirable outcomes and maximize advantages while striving to achieve its objectives. A key focus is to provide legal assurance that processes are designed to mitigate the most significant legal issues and are operating as designed. Effective management of legal risk and exposure is critical to the board and executive management, who need a reliable way to provide assurance to stakeholders that the enterprise plans to both preserve and create value. Mature GRC enables the organization to weigh multiple inputs from both internal and external contexts and use a variety of methods to analyze legal risk and provide analytics and modeling.


[1] This is the OCEG definition of GRC.

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eDiscovery Collection of Large File Shares: An Unaddressed Major Pain Point

By John Patzakis

One of the major unaddressed challenges for eDiscovery and other digital investigations involves very large file servers that host shared documents. The data volumes for these file shares is typically 10 to 20 Terabytes but can be much higher. Nearly every company and government agency maintain such large file shares, sometimes hundreds of them, depending on the size of the organization. The main purpose of a file share server is to enable multiple users to access the stored files and storage space on the file repository. These servers operate as the ubiquitous central storage place of internal company files for both collaboration and data archiving purposes. As such, they are heavily used and invariably contain numerous documents with highly relevant or otherwise important information.

Traditional eDiscovery collection methods fail to efficiently address these large file shares, due to significant logistical challenges. The data cannot simply be searched in place by traditional forensics tools or other crawling methods. Consequently, the data is typically copied in bulk and then migrated to another location for processing, where the data is finally indexed and then searched and culled. There are many problems with this approach.

First, it is very time-consuming and expensive. The process involves the over-collection of a massive amount of data, and it typically takes weeks for the copying and transfer of many terabytes of data to occur. Additionally, file shares are where companies’ most sensitive data typically resides. These repositories are often rife with trade secrets, intellectual property, and sensitive personal information. There is substantial risk in having such data copied in bulk and then shipped out of the company’s possession to a third party for eDiscovery processing.

A solution to these challenges is the utilization of index and search in-place technology. Indexing and search in-place in this context means that a software-based indexing technology (as opposed to an expensive and cumbersome stand-alone hardware appliance) is deployed directly onto the file server or an adjacent computing resource. This indexing occurs without a bulk data transfer of the data. Once indexed, the searches are performed in a few seconds, with complex Boolean operators, metadata filters and regular expression searches. The searches can be iterated and repeated without limitation, which is critical for large data sets.

Recently X1 released unique and unprecedented support for large file shares to address this exact eDiscovery workflow. X1 can be deployed directly onto a large file share in question, or to a virtual machine in near proximity to the target file servers or multiple file servers. Searches can be directed to a lone file server, or federated across multiple file servers and other endpoints, including those in different geographic locations across the enterprise. This functionality can be deployed remotely, on demand without physical access being required. This is essential for geographically diverse organizations including sensitive matters overseas. Once a targeted and responsive data set is identified through this in-place search and analysis process, the data can be exported directly to Relativity or a load file generated for upload to another review platform.

As mentioned, the searching can be full-text (including regular expression) or metadata only. In a recent matter involving over 100 Terabytes of data, X1 first generated a metadata and hash value only index, which allows for immediate de-duplication, file type filtering, and culling by date range and other parameters. This facilitated the culling of the data set by 70 percent as a first step, which then allowed for the full indexing of the data subset. This capability supports both eDiscovery and data governance and privacy workflows.

X1 large file share indexing service can be deployed on premise, or in the cloud. It can also address large volumes of cloud based data on service such as Dropbox and OneDrive.  This support of large file shares is an extension of the X1 Distributed Discovery Platform.

For more information about this unique capability, please contact us for a demonstration.

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