Tag Archives: preservation

LTN: Social Media Evidence Even More Important than email and “Every Litigator” Needs to Address It

legaltech-news-thumbBrent Burney, a top eDiscovery tech writer of Legaltech News, recently penned a detailed product review of X1 Social Discovery after his extensive testing of the software. (Social Media: A Different Type of E-Discovery Collection, Legaltech News, September 2016). The verdict on X1 Social Discovery is glowing, but more on that in bit. Burney also provides very remarkable general commentary on how social media and other web-based evidence is essential for every litigation matter, noting that “email does not hold a flicker of a candle to what people post, state, admit and display in social media.” In emphasizing the critical importance of social media and other web-based evidence, Burney notes that addressing this evidentiary treasure trove is essential for all types and sizes of litigation matters.

Consistent to that point, there is a clear dramatic increase in legal and compliance cases involving social media evidence. Top global law firm Gibson Dunn recently reported that “the use of social media continues to proliferate in business and social contexts, and that its importance is increasing in litigation, the number of cases focusing on the discovery of social media continued to skyrocket.” Undoubtedly, this is  why Burney declares that “every litigator should include (X1 Social Discovery) in their technical tool belt,” and that X1 Social Discovery is “necessary for the smallest domestic issue all the way up to the largest civil litigation matter.” Burney bases his opinion on both the critical importance of social media evidence, and his verdict on the effectiveness of X1 Social Discovery, which he lauds as featuring an interface that “is impressive and logical” and providing “the ideal method” to address social media evidence for court purposes.

From a legal commentary standpoint, two relevant implications of the LTN article stand out. First, the article represents important peer review, publication and validation of X1 Social Discovery under the Daubert Standard, which includes those factors, among others, as a framework for judges to determine whether scientific or other technical evidence is admissible in federal court.

Secondly, this article reinforces the view of numerous legal experts and key Bar Association ethics opinions, asserting that a lawyer’s duty of competence requires addressing social media evidence. New Hampshire Bar Association’s oft cited ethics opinion states that lawyers “have a general duty to be aware of social media as a source of potentially useful information in litigation, to be competent to obtain that information directly or through an agent, and to know how to make effective use of that information in litigation.” The New York State Bar similarly weighed in noting that “A lawyer has a duty to understand the benefits and risks and ethical implications associated with social media, including its use as a … means to research and investigate matters.” And the America Bar Association recently published Comment [8] to Model Rule 1.1, which provides that a lawyer “should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.”

The broader point in Burney’s article is that X1 Social Discovery is enabling technology that provides the requisite feasibility for law firms, consultants, and other practitioners to transition from just talking about social media discovery to establishing it as a standard practice.  With the right software, social media collections for eDiscovery matters and law enforcement investigations can be performed in a very scalable, efficient and highly accurate process. Instead of requiring hours to manually review and collect a public Facebook account, X1 Social Discovery can collect all the data in minutes into an instantly searchable and reviewable format.

So as with any form of digital investigation, feasibility (as well as professional competence) often depends on utilizing the right technology for the job.  As law firms, law enforcement, eDiscovery service providers and private investigators all work social discovery investigations into standard operating procedures, it is critical that best practices technology is incorporated to get the job done. This important LTN review is an emphatic punctuation of this necessity.


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Filed under Social Media Investigations

Discovery Templates for Social Media Evidence

Book coverAs a follow-up to the highly popular Q&A last week featuring DLA attorneys Joshua Briones and Ana Tagvoryan, they both have graciously allowed us to distribute a few of their social media discovery templates found in the appendix of their book:  Social Media as Evidence: Cases, Practice Pointers and Techniques, published by the American Bar Association, available for purchase online from the ABA here.

The first template is deposition questions relating to social media evidence. The second is a sample of special interrogatories. They can be accessed at this link. Thanks again to Joshua and Ana for their insightful interview, and for providing these resources.  Their book contains many more such templates and practice tips, including sample document requests, proposed jury instructions, client litigation hold memorandums with a detailed preservation checklist, preservation demand letters, and much more.

In other social discovery news, the ABA Journal this month published an insightful piece on social media discovery, featuring attorney Ralph Losey, with a nice mention of X1 Social Discovery. In a key excerpt, the ABA Journal acknowledges that “there is a pressing need for a tool that can monitor and archive everything a law firm’s client says and does on social media.”  The article also noted that more than 41% of firms surveyed in Fulbright’s 2013 annual Litigation Trends report, acknowledged they preserved and collected such data to satisfy litigation and investigation needs, which was an increase from 32% the prior year.

Another important publication, Compliance Week, also highlighted social media discovery, where Grant Thornton emphasizes their use of X1 Social Discovery as part of the firms anti-fraud and data leakage toolset. Incidentally,  when determining whether a given eDiscovery tool is in fact a leading solution in its class, in our view it is important to look at how many consulting firms are actually utilizing the technology, as consulting firms tend to be sophisticated buyers, who actually use the tools in “the front lines.” By our count we have over 400 paid install sites of X1 Social Discovery and over half of those – 223 to be exact – are eDiscovery and other digital investigation consulting firms. We believe this is a key testament to the strength of our solution, given the use by these early adopters.

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Filed under Best Practices, eDiscovery & Compliance, Social Media Investigations

“Act Reasonably” — Two Court-Issued Checklists Outlining Defensible, Targeted ESI Collection

Recently two separate and prominent courts — the federal court for the Northern District of California and the Delaware Court of Chancery (which is the primary court of equity for Delaware registered corporations) issued eDiscovery preservation guidelines. This is not unprecedented as other courts have issued similar written guidance in the form of general guidance or even more enforceable local rules of court specifically addressing eDiscovery protocols. What I found particularly interesting, however, is both courts provided fairly specific guidance on the scope of collection and preservation. In the case of the California court, which notes that its “guidelines are designed to establish best practices for evidence preservation in the digital age,” the Court offers a checklist for Rule 26(f) “meet and confer” conferences with good detail on suggested ESI preservation protocols. The Delaware Court of Chancery also issued a detailed checklist or “sample collection outline.” ESI preservation checklists are useful practice guides, and these are sanctioned by two separate influential courts.

This is important as the largest expense directly associated with eDiscovery is the cost of overly inclusive preservation and collection, which leads to increased volume charges and attorney review costs. To the surprise of many, properly targeted preservation initiatives are permitted by the courts and can be enabled by adroit software that is able to quickly and effectively access and search these data sources throughout the enterprise.

The value of targeted preservation is recognized in the Committee Notes to the FRCP amendments, which urge the parties to reach agreement on the preservation of data and the keywords used to identify responsive materials. (Citing the Manual for Complex Litigation (MCL) (4th) §40.25 (2)).  And In re Genetically Modified Rice Litigation, 2007 WL 1655757 (June 5, 2007 E.D.Mo.), the court noted that “[p]reservation efforts can become unduly burdensome and unreasonably costly unless those efforts are targeted to those documents reasonably likely to be relevant or lead to the discovery of relevant evidence.”

The checklist from the California Northern District and the guidelines issued by the Delaware court are consistent with these principles as they call for the specification of date ranges, custodian names and search terms for any ESI to be preserved. The Northern District checklist, for instance, provides for the identification of specific custodians and job titles of custodians whose ESI is to  be preserved, and also specific search phrases search terms “that will be used to identify discoverable ESI and filter out ESI that is not subject to discovery.”

However, many lawyers shy away from a targeted collection strategy over misplaced defensibility concerns, optioning instead for full disk imaging and other broad collection efforts that exponentially escalate litigation costs. The fear by some is that there always may be that one document that could be missed. However, in my experience of following eDiscovery case law over the past decade, the situations where litigants face exposure on the preservation front typically involve an absence of a defensible process. When courts sanction parties, it is usually because there is not a reasonable legal hold procedure in place, where the process is ad hoc and made up on the fly and/or not effectively executed. I am personally unaware of a published decision involving a fact pattern where a company featured a reasonable collection and preservation process involving targeted collection executed pursuant to standard operating procedures, yet was sanctioned because one or two relevant documents slipped through the cracks.

This is because the duty to preserve requires reasonable efforts, not infallible means, to collect potentially relevant information. As succinctly stated by the Delaware court: “Parties are not required to preserve every shred of information. Act reasonably.”

Another barrier standing in the way of defensible and targeted collection is that searching and performing early case assessment at the point of collection is not feasible in the decentralized global enterprise with traditional eDiscovery and information management tools. What is needed to address these challenges for the de-centralized enterprise is a field-deployable search and eDiscovery solution that operates in distributed and virtualized environments on-demand within these distributed global locations where the data resides. In order to meet such a challenge, the eDiscovery and search solution must immediately and rapidly install, execute and efficiently operate locally, including in a virtual environment, where the site data is located, without rigid hardware requirements or on-site physical access.

This ground breaking capability is what X1 Rapid Discovery provides. Its ability to uniquely deploy and operate in the IaaS cloud also means that the solution can install anywhere within the wide-area network, remotely and on-demand. Importantly, the search index is created virtually in the location proximity of the data subject to collection. This enables even globally decentralized enterprises to perform targeted search and collection efforts in an efficient, defensible and highly cost effective manner. Or, in the words of the Delaware court — the ability to act reasonably.

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Filed under Case Law, Cloud Data, Enterprise eDiscovery, IaaS