Thought Leader Interview Part Two with Sarai Schubert of IPRO: eDiscovery Trends and Best Practices

I recently interviewed Sarai Schubert, Chief Operations Officer at IPRO. We covered so much with regard to eDiscovery trends that we couldn’t fit it all in a single blog post. Part One of my interview was published Monday, here is part two with Sarai Schubert.

In part two with Sarai Schubert, we discuss collaboration app data, other data sources and the impact of the pandemic on IPRO and its customers.

Doug Austin: In eDiscovery Today’s State of the Industry report released back in January, almost a quarter of respondents identified discovery of collaboration app data as the biggest eDiscovery related trend for 2021. What advice do you have for our audience regarding how to address the discovery of collaboration data?

Sarai Schubert: I saw that, and we’ve been actually dealing with this for quite a while. It has become a major challenge, very quickly that organizations have already been moving into and considering replacing or reducing the use of email. Even our organization has tried to limit the number of meetings we have and tried to use Teams, Confluence, shared docs, and other interactive whiteboards for collaboration. It’s awesome and more efficient to collaborate and brainstorm using these platforms instead of having a bunch of back-to-back meetings. Same goal but done differently.

Of course, this makes eDiscovery more challenging because a lot of the content is in different areas. It’s not in my files but is in someone else’s files shared with a bunch of comments, or it’s in a space that wasn’t created by me.  Perhaps it was a channel created with many members, a page with many contributors, etc. This means collecting someone’s data sources is no longer the best approach. Just because a Custodian is the owner or created the document, it doesn’t mean he/she was the main contributor. The word “custodian” and what he/she owns is going to be different and it’s going to affect everything, including how you search and review the documents and how you produce them. The challenge is really difficult, and we take what the software is able to give us. As an Attorney, you’re probably reviewing one chat message at a time and it’s very difficult to find context in that. How do you group those messages together to surface that context? That’s something that I would recommend for people to reconsider. There are a ton of AI tools out there and I think we’ve done a good job trying to find ways to get people using topic modeling technology along with chat threads so they can find the context. So, my recommendation is don’t get stuck reviewing one item at a time – that’s just madness! Find good tools; otherwise, you’ll be wasting a lot of hours trying to understand real context in those messages.

Doug Austin: In addition to collaboration data, there are several other new sources of ESI that are becoming regularly discoverable in litigation. How is IPRO helping organizations address the discovery of these new data sources?

Sarai Schubert: This is a question we want to ask all the time, and the first question I asked my staff is to find out what other sources of ESI are organizations struggling with. It’s our daily number one question, because we know that multiple sources in different systems everywhere adds a huge amount of time and energy to the discovery process. We’ve been very lucky with the data sources that we’re able to support right now – they’ve been (for the most part) the ones for which organizations are needing support. But there’s certainly some additional ones, every industry has their own unique sources as well (for example, construction companies use Egnyte and some have a ton of litigation). 

One thing that I would say is unique is not just having all these different sources but tying them together. How do you link “Jane Doe” in Office 365 to “Jdoe” in Slack or “doe.jane” in Gmail, and search across them all?  We see customers that have a hybrid of different sources, so it’s about being able to show a client that “hey, it’s just Jane Doe, where do you want to look?” We take care of combining and linking all the sources in the background. It’s not just about searching or indexing the data, it’s a lot more that we do behind the scenes. We’re constantly making sure that we take care of these complexity issues. We don’t want them to worry about what’s indexed and what’s not indexed or worry about if it’s a scanned document, will they still be able to search it. We will take care of all of that.

So, we’re doing a ton behind the scenes for our clients, making it look very simple. And they appreciate that. The easier that we make it for our clients to understand how to find Jane Doe’s emails, files and chats, the more they can focus on really understanding the data – looking at topics, looking at timelines who’s talking to who, and so forth.  Our job is to make sure that it’s a single pane of glass for them and they can easily take action. And we’ll be doing that, whether our customers are asking us or not, because we know this is where they’re going to save a lot of time.

Doug Austin: It’s been over a year now since the pandemic forced a lot of organizations to work remotely for social distancing purposes. How has the pandemic and remote work impacted the IPRO team and how has it impacted IPRO’s customers?

Sarai Schubert: IPRO was prepared and also really lucky as well. We exercised our business continuity plan and, starting on March 16th of last year, we decided we needed to go 100% remote. Everyone jumped in to help with that transition and, within a day or so, we were all 100% remote and fully functional. We already had many of those practices already in place, so it wasn’t a huge deal for us. Our staff adjusted really, well. As I mentioned before, we acquired a company during the pandemic, so we continued to move forward business as usual and pressed on to take care of business.

But I would say, we were ALL impacted obviously by the pandemic itself. Our staff and their loved ones were impacted, and that includes my loved ones. It hits home because our great team at IPRO is what makes the company great and it hurts when you know you see staff members suffering.  While our business wasn’t impacted, the personal lives and many of our team members were.

As for our customers, we saw quite a few of them struggling, especially as they were going remote. We saw quite a few furloughs, quite a few trials impacted, and so forth. We did what we could to lend a hand, especially with our cloud environment. We were able to provide the capabilities to use our cloud whenever they needed to help meet their deadlines. And I was proud of my staff for jumping in to help them and looking to do more for them than what we normally do without even being asked. We all came together, and I was really proud of that. But now, most of our clients have recovered and are ready to back to business and continue to accomplish their goals, just like they normally would. We are also looking forward to meet in person and take a break from this virtual affair. We are moving forward with our Tech Show in San Diego in September, although limited capacity, is a good start and we’re looking forward to it.  

Hope you enjoyed part two with Sarai Schubert!  We’re not done yet!  The third and final part of my interview with Sarai Schubert will be published on Friday.

So, what did you think about part two with Sarai Schubert?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclosure: IPRO is an Educational Partner and sponsor of eDiscovery Today

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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