If everyone managed their email well, then we might not have so much to do as ediscovery project managers … but since they typically don’t … we get to keep busy.
When I read John Mancin’s recent blog post about managing email, I looked at it first from the ediscovery perspective and second from it’s intended time management learning objective. Read it now for its time management value — as a project manager, managing your time is one of the keys to success.
Then we will take a look at it from an ediscovery point of view together here:
John walks us through an easy 8-step program to regain control of lost time to managing our in boxes. He describes some of the reasons for ediscovery challenges and places to look for relevant ediscovery.
#3. Reduce colleague spam, both what you send and what you receive.
This is a can be a problem on your electronic discovery projects but it’s generally easily overcome through culling and deduplication. This is a culture question that should be part of your PM checklist when planning for your document/ESI collection.
#4. Reduce attachment spam.
Here’s where it starts to get interesting… in step 4, he tells us to reduce the number of attachments we send out. Good idea. However, another challenge we often see in ediscovery projects is identifying which file is the original or most up-to-date version of the document. We have tools/ technology for dealing with this issue too …. near deduplication.
Something else worth pointing out is the trend in the ECM (enterprise content management) world to get rid of attachments altogether and simply allow email users to create a link to the file on the server so that it resides in a single location. I wrote about this a while back. This is a trend that will reduce the volume of ESI for ediscovery eventually however, it also means that as ediscovery project managers we have to add this to our identification / collection phase checklists.
#6. Don’t use email as a filing cabinet.
Wow! Thousands of examples are available on other blogs about the perils of #6 in litigation…
- People regularly send emails to themselves… sometimes “themselves” = home / personal e-mail account (identification / collection checklist: “Did you ask the custodian …?”) Also, think Bear Stearns: “He sent it from his home computer to the other guy’s wife’s system to steer clear of the company server?”
- Think document retention policy- many corporations limit mailbox size to discourage long term storage of data within the e-mail container.
- Now let’s consider searching within the context of this quote from Craig Ball’s recent post on the EDD Update blog:
ESI is encoded in many different ways, and it’s quite common for these encoded objects to be nested like Russian matryoshka dolls: a Word document inside a Zip archive attached to an e-mail message within a compressed Outlook PST container file residing on an encrypted volume. Each nested object is encoded differently from its parent and child objects, and even within the body of a single document or file, encoding changes as content changes.
- If I receive e-mail data from my client as a PST, then it’s a container that is not organized in easy to manage records. As an ediscovery project manager one of the things to consider with regards to searching and processing the data is our plan to deal with nested files within the PST.
- Attorneys generally understand that most people use their in box as a filing cabinet so they typically will request this information in discovery. However, this is a limited view of what could potentially be relevant to the case… we’ll discuss this further when we get to #8 on John’s list.
#8. Use the right tool for the job.
I totally agree about using the right tool for the job… but as we’ve discussed already here, many don’t… so where else should we be looking for information? We already mentioned home computers… I would add Wikis, Blogs and Twitter to the list as well as company-managed instant messages and digitized voice mail.
E-mail is one of our necessary evils when it comes to project management. It’s great to have the resource to communicate with our teams, unfortunately, if we allow ourselves to become a slave to its constant interruptions throughout the day, then we risk missing deadlines for our projects. I am a big fan of closing Outlook for a few hours each day so that I can get some work done without interruption. Same goes for allowing calls to roll to voice-mail… See John’s steps: 1, 2, 5 and 7 for more pointers to free yourself from your e-mail.
When you’re working with your case teams on the identification phase of a litigation matter, ask them if they send email home or use their in box as a filing cabinet… odds are that their clients do too.