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Identify Key Facts in MDL Investigations (Part 1 of 4)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Mary Mack
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Look at Documents Not for Them with Centralized Collaboration

By Ian Campbell and Michael Fischer

Jeffrey, a partner at a boutique plaintiffs’ firm specializing in consumer class actions, is preparing for an important deposition. He starts by searching in his Outlook. Jeffrey and his co-counsel, in what has become a multi-district litigation (MDL), have been emailing pdfs of key documents from eDiscovery back and forth for months. He does have a folder for HotDocs, but you know, “Sometimes I get busy and don’t get around to filing email attachments.” Now, he faces the challenge of finding all key points for that depo from multiple places on his system. Does this scenario sound familiar? Even in 2017, this form of decentralized collaboration is all too common.

Much more efficient methods of collaboration have been developed over the years.

The defense is utilizing these tools. Why isn’t Jeffrey, and why aren’t you?

The documents have certainly been loaded into an eDiscovery platform, like iCONECT|Xera®, by one of the firms. This is a perfect place to collaborate. Rather than downloading PDFs, adding comments and emailing them to colleagues, Jeffrey could have worked within the platform. In this case, he would tag the documents as relevant to a specific issue and/or witness, comment on the documents right in the system, add them to a folder titled Hot Docs, or Miller Depo, or both, and sent an alert to any of his colleagues to share what he had found.

If Jeffrey had followed these best practices for collaboration in eDiscovery, he would be looking at those key documents right now, rather than looking for them.

There are additional advantages to collaborating within the eDiscovery review platform. Here are two:

Case knowledge is no longer siloed. When attorneys print documents and add handwritten notes, those notes are inaccessible to the rest of the case team. Even if a document is scanned and added back into the system, the handwriting is not indexed, and therefore not searchable.  Whereas, most commenting tools, such as the one in iCONECT|Xera, index those comments, so that attorneys can find comments by running a simple search: comment; or a more complex search: comment + keyword; comment + keyword + date range + commenter. Compiling all documents with comments because a simple step.

Various versions of a document are correlated. When several firms receive data from various sources, one might receive a scanned copy of a signed contract with limited metadata while another gets the unsigned native version with all its related details. If all the data goes into a single system and that system has near-duplicate identification capabilities, the attorney who finds one version can easily find the other. 

This article could become an entire manual. But for now, suffice to say that it is time to move your MDL collaborations into a digital platform to work more efficiently and keep everyone on the same page.

Look for our upcoming article on the creative uses of analytics for review of received productions.

About the Authors

Ian Campbell is the President and CEO of iCONECT Development LLC, which has been developing innovative eDiscovery review software since 1999. He is responsible for sales operations, business development, product lifecycle development, and partner relations. With more than 16 years of strategic product development in the litigation support field, Campbell is a frequent industry spokesperson, sharing his experiences and expert commentary with audiences for the American Bar Association, LegalTech, ILTA, AIIM, IQPC, Marcus-Evans and other legal and management groups around the world.

Mike Fischer is Director of Information Services at Schlichter Bogard & Denton, LLP.  Mike has worked for nearly 10 years in Legal Technology and manages E-Discovery review projects for many large scale multi-party complex matters.  Schlichter, Bogard & Denton, LLP represents individuals harmed by corporate wrongdoing – and consistently prevails at trial. Their work has been repeatedly profiled in the media and recognized by judges; among other things, it has been called “pioneer[ing],” “tireless,” and “historic.”


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