Updating IT and Custodian Interviews

Updating IT and Custodian Interviews for Today’s Data Sources: eDiscovery Best Practices

Great sessions & learning points at this week’s ILTACON, including one regarding updating IT and custodian interviews for today’s data sources!

The discussion was part of yesterday’s session On the Cutting Edge of Short Message Collection, Review, and Production: How Do We Slice and Dice this Challenging Data Source?, conducted by Monica Harris of Cellebrite, Nordo Nissi of Goulston & Storrs, P.C., Danielle Davidson of Ropes & Gray, Michael Deuerling of Relativity and Gina Taranto of ProSearch.

The session had several great points and considerations regarding best practices for discovery of short messages. One that stood out to me was the importance of updating IT and custodian interviews to account for today’s data sources.


Custodian interviews are an underappreciated, but very important, part of the eDiscovery process that happens right at the beginning of the eDiscovery life cycle during the Identification phase. This is where you learn the most about the data sources that may be discoverable during the case. I’ve been a big proponent over the years of having a customizable template with questions that you can use and adapt for each interview.

As the panelists discussed, that template needs to be updated to address data sources like short message platforms, which are always changing; therefore, the questions need to always be changing as well. They provided several examples of questions you should consider for your cases, including:

IT Interview Questions:

  • Does the company support a chat messaging platform?
  • Does the company support the use of text messaging for corporate communications?
  • What is the retention policy for chat or text messaging?

Custodian Interview Questions:

  • Do they utilize personal devices or platforms for corporate communications?
  • Do they retain chat or text messages indefinitely?
  • Do they utilize other features of their phone or tablet for business purposes (such as Notes)?

It’s important to ask IT and individual custodians about platforms that they use because the use of shadow IT platforms is higher than ever. It’s easy to miss an important platform for communication if you’re not careful.

After just about every case I’ve ever worked on, I’ve gone back and updated my custodian interview template for individual and departmental custodians (like IT). With so many data sources today, updating IT and custodian interviews to account for those data sources (and how they change and evolve) is key to effective eDiscovery. Great session and great learning point!

So, what do you think? Do you keep and update a custodian interview template? 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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