eDiscovery, Native Format, and Why Meet and Confer is Essential
The Electronic Discovery Reference Model, or EDRM, is considered the definitive model for eDiscovery for law firms, legal professionals, and other organizations. The EDRM includes nine stages for working with electronically-stored-information (ESI):
Today, we’ll be digging a little more into the Production stage, including one of the most consistent areas of disagreement within our industry: is image format always required, or can other formats be utilized for the sake of efficiency and cost savings? Is a meet and confer session really that important, or can it be safely skipped?
Let’s take a look.
IS IMAGE FORMAT BEST FOR PRODUCTION?
The advent of an increasingly digitized business and litigation environment has brought the issue of native format production to the forefront. Historically, attorneys have relied heavily on physical paper copies or Adobe PDF files for production.
Even files that were originally digital in nature (for examples, emails) have generally been printed out on physical paper and then re-scanned back in as PDFs, or maintained in paper form.
After the 2006 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) were passed, the standard became to produce documents in “a form or forms in which it is ordinarily maintained or in a form or forms that are reasonably usable,” unless the party which requested the documentation specifies a different format.
By eliminating the cost associated with converting to image, native or near-native production can be more efficient and less costly than traditional image format production.
The reality of rapidly changing technology, and the multitude of formats available for digital files, provides entirely new challenges for attorneys.
Generally speaking, TIFF, PDFs, paper, native, near-native, or combinations of all of these may be perfectly acceptable and equally viable choices… as long as they’re agreed upon by both parties.
Which is where the importance of a meet and confer session comes in.
MEET AND CONFER IS AN ESSENTIAL STEP IN EDISCOVERY
As early as is possible during the litigation process, representatives of the two parties should schedule a time to meet.
The parties should discuss, openly and honestly, what information they have and how they intend to share it. This discussion should include specifics about production format, metadata, and required redaction.
Both parties should come away from the session with total clarity on what review method will be utilized by each party and whether they will be moving forward with native (essentially, all documentation in its original digital format), near native (mostly in original format), image (mostly converted to PDF or TIFF), or pure paper (with all information printed out onto physical paper copies).
The meet and confer session is, unfortunately, often short-changed or even totally skipped entirely. This causes continued confusion, slows down the litigation process, and could even lead to important electronically-stored-information being lost or totally overlooked in the shuffle.
At Legal Eagle, we have experience with meet and confer sessions and we’re happy to attend these meetings with our clients. We can ensure that all the relevant details are hammered out, so that both parties walk away feeling totally prepared to take the next step in the discovery and production process.
To schedule your Lunch and Learn, or to inquire about our litigation services (including court reporting), gives Legal Eagle a call at (864) 467-1373 or contact us online at any time.