Craig Ball Says “Don’t Be a Tool, GET a Tool!”: eDiscovery Best Practices

It’s “tool time” with Craig Ball!  🙂  As in, he’s talking about the importance of eDiscovery tools and how you may be a “tool” if you’re not using one.

As Craig notes in his latest post (the title of which is included in my title above), there are literally “billions of dollars spent on e-discovery every year”.  And here’s my coverage of Complex Discovery’s annual mashup of the market for proof!  eDiscovery software provider Relativity just got valued at $3.6 billion alone.  And many corporations, large government entities, service providers and most large law firms have at least one eDiscovery “tool” in their belt (if not several).  Smaller firms, “who account for 80% or more of lawyers in private practice”?  Not so much – by a long shot.  Craig sums up the blank looks he gets (and I’ve gotten) when asking those firms about their eDiscovery platform this way: “I might as well ask a dog where it will drive if it catches the car.”

Many of these smaller firms use the native apps to conduct review, especially Outlook, Word and other Office apps.  Craig notes several disadvantages with that:

  • The integrity of electronic evidence will be compromised by that workflow.
  • You will change hash values.
  • You will alter metadata.
  • Your searches will be spotty. 
  • Worst case scenario: your copy of Outlook could start spewing read receipts and calendar reminders.
  • Apart from the risks, review will be slow.
  • You won’t be able to tag or categorize data.
  • When you print messages, they’ll bear your name instead of the custodian’s name.

Craig differentiates this from native production, of which he’s probably as big a proponent as anybody.  As he notes, “the takeaway is get a tool.”

I couldn’t agree more.  So many eDiscovery platforms, er, “tools” will give you a chance to try their platform out, many with your own data.  Some will even provide a 30-day trial.  But, Craig says, “figure out what you’re going to do before you catch that car.”  There’s the rub, right?  Hmmm, sounds like another opportunity for at least one additional post on this topic!  I’ll have to think about that…

So, what do you think?  What “tool(s)” do you use for eDiscovery?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.


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