E-Disclosure

The PLT approach to e-disclosure involves the identification, capture, processing, review and production of large volumes of electronic documents and scanned images of hard copy as part of the process of disclosure in civil litigation. It is an approach that subscribes to the principles of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) whilst retaining an essential flexibility.

Our blend of technical knowledge and knowledge of court procedure is invaluable to our clients. All PLT experts are fully conversant with Part 31 of the Civil Procedure Rules and Practice Direction 31B. This allows us to take responsibility in key areas such as data mapping and the drafting of Electronic Document Questionnaires (EDQs), and to help guide counsel through Case Management Conferences (CMCs).

Proportionality and efficiency are paramount when intelligently identifying and extracting relevant data. Our use of keyword analytics helps to determine a search that is both reasonable and cost-efficient.

We securely employ the market-leading document review platforms Relativity® and Clearwell as well as harnessing the power of Technology Assisted Review (TAR). This technology can be deployed anywhere in the world to ensure the exact same processes are followed at all times and in all locations when data cannot be transferred.

PLT also offers outstanding project management all the way through the e-disclosure process. Our advisers are on hand 24/7 to answer any questions a client may have as well as possessing the ability to train review teams and consult on efficient strategies and divisions of labour.

 

Disclosure of electronic documents, similar to paper disclosure, requires a reasonable search of documents. However, due to the fact that the documents are in an electronic format, a filter for relevancy can be more efficient.

The biggest challenge facing e-disclosure is that of volume as, for example, one 40GB backup tape may contain millions of documents.

Conducting a cost-effective search of such a large volume of potentially relevant documents is difficult and it is vital that the documents are collected in a way that does not change any of their metadata.

Metadata is data that a computer system or computer programme generates automatically, such as the date and time of creation of a document and the identity of its creator. It is helpful because it can describe a particular document, and be used to sort documents for relevancy.

In many cases, data collection can be as simple as, for example, gathering monthly backup tapes for the client’s main email server.

Sometimes, however, potentially relevant data may be stored on systems that have no formal, or centrally-administered, backup process. In these instances, the manual collection of electronic documents on-site and in multiple locations may be required.

Our proprietary backup tape catalogue and extraction technologies set PLT apart from our competitors.

  • Our experts are able to extract data or documents from different backup tape formats and place them onto a storage device that is simpler for the in-house team to manage.
  • Our access to virtually every type of tape drive and backup software programme allows us to convert data from one format to another, or extract it from a database into files that can be processed by the client’s in-house tools.

Our experts can sample tapes, including complex backups where multiplexing from multiple servers at the same time is employed, for qualitative/quantitative analysis if deemed appropriate. It also allows for the on-site extraction of data from backup tapes in cases when tapes cannot leave a particular office or jurisdiction.

Once our technology has been used to its best effect, we can advise on which sources do and do not require collection and provide a detailed explanation as to why. Our formal report can then be used either before or at the CMC to show that a proposed collection process is reasonable.

We are also, occasionally, required to help counsel formalise challenges to the opponent’s proposed search and collection strategy.

PLT’s highly consultative approach allows us to share much of the responsibility for the identification and collection of electronically stored information (ESI) with our clients. Our experts regularly draft EDQs for lawyers as well as challenging any opponent’s EDQs. We prepare counsel for Case Management Conferences (CMCs) and are often in attendance during them to ensure the opponent’s disclosure is properly pursued.

We assist the client in determining a reasonable search through the creation of data map reports, an area in which PLT has long been a market leader. It is our method, devised through years of experience, to conduct informal interviews with the client’s IT representatives. This gives us a full understanding of the storage systems and applications that may be associated with relevant custodians.

The team also interviews sample custodians to fully understand how data was used at the appropriate time, as opposed to how it should have been used. Our familiarity with network topologies, storage systems and disaster recovery/archive procedures and technology allows us to cut to the chase and address the unanswered question of vague response. Our approach and level of service is the same whether we are dealing with a small business or a multi-national corporation.

Email is perhaps the most common document type involved in a large-scale disclosure exercise.

A single email server or backup tape, may contain millions of separate emails. It is very likely that duplicates of the same email will exist, in which case it is essential that they are de-duplicated. This ensures that only one of the two identical documents is reviewed.

Metadata can also be used to sort and filter the emails for potential relevancy using the following criteria:

  • Named individuals who had access to emails, whether they were sent, received or copied;
  • Domains of named individuals or ‘generic’ junk-mail or personal web-mail domains;
  • Time parameter, for example, between 1 July 2003 and 31 December 2003;
  • Key words or phrases in the subject line;
  • Key words or phrases in the body of the email text or in email attachments.

This type of filter can dramatically reduce the number of emails that require manual review.

PLT also uses concept technology or fuzzy logic to return emails that are likely to be relevant, despite not containing the exact word included in the relevancy search list. The word ‘dog’, for example, may be highlighted during a search for the word ‘pet’.

Once documents have been filtered for relevancy, the ones that remain are then manually reviewed by the legal team for relevance and privilege before the disclosure list is created.

Our services can be tailored to suit the in-house team’s review methodology.  We are equally comfortable hosting data in Relativity® and Clearwell or delivering bespoke load-files to be uploaded onto our client’s review platform.

Most law firms and corporates favour an online review tool. This is a safe, secure, web-based platform accessible by any computer connected to the internet which means that it can be used by staff located at different offices or in different countries. The documents are stored in a central repository, and only users with the appropriate usernames and passwords can access them.

Where a lawyer is not familiar with document review technology, PLT can advise and project manage the most suitable system for the scale of the case. Being entirely independent of all online review tool suppliers, we are able to offer arm’s length advice and find the right tool for the project in hand.

One way in which e-disclosure can differ from forensic investigation is that it may be limited to active documents, as opposed to deleted documents or system data. This may be due to an agreement between the parties to attempt to reduce cost, or because the nature of the case is such that deleted data is deemed to be unlikely to be relevant.

Imaging all systems to create exact copies of all data on target storage devices is rarely required. In some circumstances, however, both active documents and some deleted documents or other e-evidence may be required. When that is the case, collection may need to be conducted in accordance with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) guidelines that govern the proper collection of evidence in forensic investigations.

Many large law firms have an experienced in-house litigation support team to help their lawyers conduct the disclosure aspects of a case. But not all lawyers enjoy this level of support and, at PLT, we can fulfil all the duties and complete all the tasks that would be the responsibility of the in-house team where one does not exist.

Our experts can plan and execute an entire e-disclosure project which allows the litigation team’s principals to concentrate on the subsequent review of the documents provided.

We have an outstanding project management team which is on hand 24/7 to respond to any queries a client may have. Our experts also have vast experience of operating in multiple countries and jurisdictions.

Relativity
Relativity® 8.1 “Best in Service”

Relativity® is one of the most popular e-discovery platforms in the market today. We recommend Relativity® where you expect larger volumes of data with several phases and a project growing in complexity. It is ideal for matters that employ multiple reviewers and when important redaction and production needs are expected.

Relativity® possesses both linear and non-linear review capability and employs concept searching methods in an easy-to-use review platform which gives users the flexibility and scalability to handle any project.

PLT is the first vendor outside of the US to achieve ‘Best in Service’ and has four qualified Relativity® administrators, which is more than any other provider

Clearwell
Clearwell is an Early Case Assessment (ECA) tool and one of the leading electronic document review platforms.  We recommend it when a review requires an investigative approach, when the data set is small to medium (less than 500GB), and/or when data protection/privacy restricts the first review to the country in which the data is stored.

Clearwell is very user-friendly. It can easily be shipped and installed on the client’s network, or isolated, to allow for a local review of data. PLT’s experts are experienced in hosting multi-jurisdiction reviews in Clearwell throughout Europe.

Mid-process key word analytic reports are another of PLT’s unique selling points. Their employment enables clear decisions to be made concerning what criteria should be used to cull any given population of documents.

Over the last seven years, PLT has invested in the development of ICE™, a proprietary distributed technology that ensures a level of power, dexterity and flexibility that cannot be achieved with commercially available packages.

ICE™ allows clients’ electronically stored information (ESI) to be ingested, filtered and processed with great speed and accuracy. Through ICE™, PLT has the in-house capability to process terabytes of data in one day which is, typically, far more than is required.

ICE™ continues to evolve and now provides enhanced reporting capabilities such as exceptions reporting and key word analytics. Such resources afford our consultants and clients unique insights into the data which allow them to make more informed decisions.

Its efficiency also relates to cost. PLT leads the market in reducing the expense attached to high quality ESI processing due to its investment and confidence in ICE™.

At PLT, our ECA strategies ensure that only documents containing potentially relevant information are promoted to review, making the review process a more manageable one.

Such strategies vary greatly, and can include filtering based on file type, date range, custodian and email domain, but are all designed to produce a precise and controlled review population.

The preliminary results can then be visualised online, and techniques such as filters and key words can be tested on real case data, before any full-blown document review process is launched. PLT’s expertise in advanced key word analytics enables us to advise on how best to execute key word sets in order to produce a proportionate volume of documents for review.

PLT harnesses the power of machine technology to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of e-disclosure reviews. TAR uses methods such as predictive coding to assist in review, quality control and document allocation.

TAR is best suited to large-scale cases where the potential review population is very high and timelines are short. Once a subset of data has been expertly coded according to its subject matter, our systems can then be trained to predict responsive and unresponsive documents.

TAR can be used as a quality control method by sampling responsive documents against unresponsive documents to check against human error or by allocating documents for review by using their prediction rank.