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E-Discovery

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Contents

Concise Definition

In a nutshell, e-Discovery is how electronic data is requested, located, acquired, and then searched in the course of civil or criminal litigation.  E-discovery covers a broad range of data including audio files, photographs, animation, software, email, and online documents. 

Expanded Definition

  • What Makes e-Discovery different?
What makes it all the more fascinating (as compared to regular discovery) is the nature of the data being discovered.  Electronic data is extremely searchable, rich with useful hidden data (metadata), and often ridiculously difficult to completely delete.  Metadata is basically data about the data itself.  It contains easy things like time an email was written, the IP address it was sent from, and when a document was last edited.  However, it can also show past changes to a file, who has worked on a document, and comments that were added during the editing process--even if removed afterwards.  Metadata software can allow access to some of these advanced functions of hidden data, which the user likely did not realize could be accessed later.  Exposure of metadata could be of huge concern to legal departments in the course of matters such contract negotiations, intellectual property litigation, and employment lawsuits.
  • How do the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) Apply to e-Discovery?
To get a broad understanding of this, you should really meet the Wizard. 
FindLaw's Electronic Discovery Rule Wizard will walk you right from Rule 16(B) and 26(F) -the Meet and Confer Rules, to the Duty of Disclosure, Privilege Claims, Forms of Production, and all the way to to Rule 37--Safe Harbor.  You can read the text of each rule, catch the summary, and pull up a handy checklist of how to comply and implement in the course of actual e-Discovery proceedings.
  • What Should In-House Counsel Know about e-Discovery software?
Considering the ease of organizing and searching electronic data, it is no wonder that there are many options for e-Discovery software.  The software your company ultimately decides will depend on the company's size, the types of data that will be captured or turned over, and how the company plans to store, search, and use the data.   

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure specify rules for discovery and E-Discovery.  Other major topics          in E-Discovery include legal holds and Sedona Conference.


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Further Readings

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Interactive Guide to Electronic Discovery
FYI: Electronic Discovery
Electronic Discovery from the Department of Labor
Free copy of eDiscovery for Dummies.  

See Also

FindLaw's E-Discovery Software

Contributors

FindLaw Communities, FindLaw Michelle, FindLaw Nira, FindLaw Sarah, FindLaw Support, FindLaw dave, Pddooley