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Handling eDiscovery in the Context of Big Data

Accessing expertise to manage complex eDiscovery requests

Big Data - a large amount of information that comes in a variety of forms and constantly changes - has generated a significant amount of buzz in the business world, mostly around the implications for marketing. But there's little attention paid to its potential impact on risk management and legal issues. There should be. When legal compliance actions such as eDiscovery requests involve large datasets, most businesses don't have the in-house expertise to handle the task.

This is true both of companies that manage legal compliance internally and those that turn to external experts who don't specialize in eDiscovery. Discovery requests that involve truly massive datasets require special expertise and technology tools, and most in-house resources and even outside technology experts who are not specifically trained to handle eDiscovery in a Big Data context are unaware of the scale of the challenge.

Big Data and eDiscovery: Special Considerations
Most companies that tap Big Data for marketing initiatives quickly realize that they need specialized expertise to handle the unique requirements of working with huge datasets, and yet many have not had that realization when it comes to eDiscovery and Big Data. The fact is, handling eDiscovery in the context of Big Data is even more challenging because there are legal standards that must be upheld.

Information that companies mine for eDiscovery purposes must conform to rigorous data integrity and evidence handling procedures that are far stricter than those used in routine data migration and IT processing events. The expertise and tools required exceed those generally used to parse Big Data for business intelligence.

Special handling requirements include detailed accounts of how data was created, transferred, accessed and stored, which are not generally available from Big Data analysis tools created for business purposes. For compliant eDiscovery, companies must provide evidence of data integrity and demonstrate handling procedures that conform to legal standards so that the evidence produced is admissible in court and for use in legal actions, regulatory examinations, administrative hearings or private arbitration.

Since the data in question generally comprises documents created in a range of formats and stored across multiple locations (e.g., email folders, mobile devices, central business servers, etc.), eDiscovery in the Big Data context is that much more complicated to identify, collect and analyze. But companies that fail to do so in an appropriate fashion can face substantial fines.

Accessing Expertise to Manage Complex eDiscovery Requests
The Big Data tools currently available for mining and analytics aren't up to the task of handling eDiscovery in a compliant way. But luckily, companies that need these services can find affordable solutions. There are services available that have the specialized legal and technical expertise to identify, analyze and produce documents according to exacting legal standards - and complete the job quickly so legal professionals can meet their deadlines.

A competent eDiscovery partner can analyze Big Data to identify relevant email communications, important records, presentations and other key documents using specialized technology to separate relevant material from massive quantities of extraneous data. They can use advanced search methods that conform to computer forensics best practices and evidentiary rules to produce the evidence needed in a compliant manner.

Company leaders, IT professionals and other employees who are involved in eDiscovery requests should be fully aware of the scale of the task they face when asked to produce documents from large datasets. It's wise to have an eDiscovery policy in place to ensure that requests involving legal and regulatory matters are handled appropriately.

Managing eDiscovery requests in the context of Big Data poses many challenges, but it's important for executives, IT managers and other personnel charged with the task to get it right. Not doing so can expose the company to significant risks. For these reasons, businesses facing an eDiscovery action that involves Big Data should make sure they access the resources they need to handle it appropriately.

More Stories By Alon Israely

Alon Israely, co-founder and leader of the Strategic Partner Program at Business Intelligence Associates (BIA), works with clients to integrate BIA’s cloud software product, Total Discovery. A lawyer with more than 15 years of experience developing advanced computing technologies, he has consulted with corporations and their law firms on a variety of technology issues, including expert witness services related to computer forensics, digital evidence management and information security. Previously, he was a senior member of several IT teams working on projects for Fortune 500 companies related to global network architecture and data migration projects for enterprise information systems. Find out more at www.totaldiscovery.com.

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