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The Many Benefits of E-Discovery

In a previous article, I referred to e-discovery as the pachyderm in the classic story of the blind men and the elephant. The men were attempting to describe the elephant solely by the single part that each was feeling. Of course, each described an animal that was most emphatically not an elephant.

The story fits e-discovery because so many people confidently talk about e-discovery as if it were one thing: the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure amendments, or court rulings, or review and analysis, or email searches. All of these things are involved in e-discovery, but e-discovery is much larger than the sum of these parts and many more.

Here is our definition of e-discovery: "E-discovery is the process of classifying, collecting, preserving, reviewing, and producing electronically stored information (ESI)." This definition references e-discovery's major pain point: litigation. But this e-discovery definition is not limited to litigation. That is because the same point points -- and the same solutions -- benefit not only the litigation e-discovery process, but also compliance and even storage management. Essentially, e-discovery tools and best practices impact any business process that depends on visibility and control over ESI.

The most-affected workgroups here are Legal (i.e. the General Counsel's office); the governance, risk, and compliance folks (GRC); and IT, which must manage all of that data that legal and GRC are desperately trying to search.

E-discovery and Legal: This is the classic use of e-discovery tools and its biggest development driver. Legal has used review and analysis software for years, but these packages are developing analytics to reach further back in the e-discovery cycle. The earlier that review and analysis can produce workable results sets, the more cost-effective litigation e-discovery becomes.

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