At the start or even the anticipation of litigation, in-house counsel are often under the gun to begin identifying the e-data that has been (or could potentially be) requested by opposing counsel. For many, this can be a messy process of identifying individual holders or "custodians" of potentially responsive documents and then further identifying where and how this e-data has been stored. In a recent article in The Corporate Counselor, posted on In-House Counsel Online, Brett Tarr explored the practice of "Data Mapping" as a potential strategy to streamline and improve efficiency of an e-discovery response.
The concept of data mapping is relatively straightforward. As Tarr explained, a data map:
"provides legal and IT departments with a guide to the employees, processes, technology, types of data, and business areas, along with the physical and virtual location of data throughout the company."
In other words, a properly constructed data map should allow in-house counsel to identify not only the location of potentially responsive e-data, but also its availability and format. Those familiar with the onus of going through the e-discovery process are well-schooled in the difficulties that arise, firstly in the identification of relevant custodians of the e-data, and secondly, in determining the actual location of the data. A properly constructed data map could significantly reduce the time spent in preparation for any outside vendors who may be required to actually extract the data.
Tarr provides four tips to create and maintain a data map:
- Involve other departments and managers early on;
- Develop logical, comprehensive practices for managing data;
- Create clear pathways of communication; and
- Don't just create, update
Central to any useful data map is a strong collaboration between the legal and IT departments, especially because of the differing vantage points each department may have with respect to e-data. By completing this process well in advance of any litigation, and as a matter of business practice, in-house counsel will have already eliminated one of the most time consuming aspects of responding to e-discovery requests, and also have readily available the information needed to determine (and potentially argue), the cost/burden of producing certain data versus the benefits of said production.
To read more about data mapping and details on Brett Tarr's tips, you can find his article at this link.