Blog: Complex eDiscovery Matter Managed Through Tiered Custodial ESI Processing & Hosting

Reviewers Meet Tight Deadlines Through This Approach

The Client Situation

A large corporation was being accused of fraud and the complexity of the situation was about to become overwhelming for them. If they did not put up a vigorous and effective defense, their business could be greatly damaged financially and corporate leaders might even face criminal charges.

The Department of Justice got involved in the matter and the FBI conducted a raid on their facilities. Customers of the corporation filed a class-action law suit, claiming that the company had not honored the financial terms of their agreement.

The corporation turned to outside counsel to help them navigate this matter. Outside counsel immediately recognized that their ability to effectively guide this client would be highly dependent on gaining access to critical ESI (electronically stored information). But this raised all sorts of challenges.

The scope of the ESI to be reviewed was very large with more than 100 terabytes of data to be collected. This included structured data from databases, unstructured data on individual computer systems and even data from mobile devices. Most of the data was unstructured, which made collection a serious challenge. But this was made even more complex by the number of data custodians who had been identified.

Compounding this situation was the Court’s demand to start producing evidence right away. Time was tight. ESI was scattered. Data custodians were numerous. Reviewers waited in the wings. Attorneys and CPAs needed access to the data right away.

The stage was set for high drama. This is why outside counsel chose LOGICFORCE.

Key Outcome

Outside counsel demonstrated their ability to handle data-heavy litigation matters as they delivered services on par with top AMLAW firms, even though they are a boutique regional law firm.

LOGICFORCE’S Analysis & Recommendations

LOGICFORCE provided an analysis of the complexity of teams who needed access to the data, the amount of data that needed to be processed and the data custodians. Given these constraints, LOGICFORCE recommended rolling productions of data sets.

LOGICFORCE believed it was not advisable to collect, process and host all 100-plus terabytes of data that was potentially pertinent to the matter before review began. This would significantly delay review and potentially risk a very negative response from the Courts.

To make this effective, LOGICOFORCE recommended that data be collected, processed and hosted based on the three tiers of data custodians who had been identified. Data from each tier of custodian would be made available on a rolling production schedule that fed information to auditors and review teams.

Three auditor teams, comprised of CPAs and financial analysts, would review the rolling production data as the data-sets were made available. This approach would also give outside counsel access to pertinent data in a timely fashion, allowing them to formulate the best legal strategy.

LOGICFORCE also recommended a single data repository, that could be cordoned off for security access purposes, for the various teams who needed access to the data. The teams included the CEO’s personal attorney, outside counsel attorneys, 2 different CPA firms, reviewers and others. This recommendation was designed to reduce costs and complexity and to expedite review of large volumes of data.

The cost savings from this recommendation were very substantial because the alternative would have been to provision data sets in unique databases for each team. This approach proved to be prescient. When LOGICFORCE first began working on this project, there were five teams who needed access to the data. As the case evolved, up to nine teams needed access to the data. LOGICFORCE was able to provide secure access to all of these teams from a single master database.

LOGICFORCE also recommended that the database for this project needed to include predicative review capabilities. Given the volume of data that needed to be managed, the software needed to have predictive review to cut down on the datasets that were sent to reviewers. This expedited review time and saved money.

The Service Package

LOGICFORCE’s primary services for this engagement included consulting about the overall process, Digital Forensics, eDiscovery and the deployment of a virtual review environment for multiple review teams. We provided XERA access for document reviewers, integrated analytics for predictive review and NUIX to ingest and process the large volume of data. LOGICFORCE also provided training in the XERA application for reviewers who were not familiar with the software.

The Engagement

LOGICFORCE worked very closely with outside counsel, internal IT, project staff and iCONECT, providers of XERA. This included making numerous onsite trips to provide training and one on one’s when transitioning in new users and groups.

Over the course of 3 years, LOGICFORCE processed nearly 100 terabytes of data. At first, the productions were delivered weekly. Then, as needed and as new custodians were identified, the new data sources were added. LOGICFORCE was very responsive and flexible as needs changed.

As the project progressed, LOGICFORCE encountered numerous obstacles. More than 400 reviewers needed access to the review environment. The reviewers came from 13 different firms, including the federal prosecutor’s office. Each firm had a unique objective to accomplish which shaped how they wanted to work. LOGICFORCE satisfied all of their requirements. Many of the CPA firms had never used a review platform like XERA, so LOGICFORCE provided training to them.

LOGICFORCE committed to meeting some very tight timelines by utilizing a well-organized data collection process and a 24 hour per day processing schedule at the onset of the project. LOGICFORCE utilized our Digital Forensics team for data collections. The collections approach was based on the tiered custodians. We collected data for tier one custodians first, tier two custodians second and tier three custodians third. But the collections process required ongoing and iterative flexibility as new requests for evidence were put forward by stakeholders in this matter.

LOGICFORCE’s Digital Forensics team was able to demonstrate to all parties that they used sophisticated collection methodologies that did not result in spoliation of evidence. The collections process itself was rather complex for two reasons.

First, the date range from which data needed to be collected was quite broad due to the nature of the litigation. Second, the data had to be acquired from a wide range of systems including cloud-based applications, personal computers, storage systems, archiving environments and even mobile devices. After stakeholders learned about LOGICFORCE’s forensically sound approach to collections, no one questioned the validity of the process.

LOGICFORCE deployed the virtual review environment that included several different types of applications from the corporation. The corporation utilized numerous Microsoft SQL servers, Oracle Databases and proprietary web applications. LOGICFORCE was able to reconstitute all of these applications in the review environment so that reviewers could see the original data, perform highly focused search queries and make notes and tags as they uncovered pertinent evidence.

The Outcomes

There were numerous successful outcomes from this litigation event for the opposing parties and for LOGICFORCE. On one side, the DOJ, FBI and class-action litigants sought to take action that could have resulted in dire economic consequences to the corporation. The consequences could have come from both legal matters and from massive disruptions to the corporation’s day-to-day operations. LOGICFORCE helped mitigate both of these potential outcomes in two ways.

First, LOGICFORCE produced evidence in a timely fashion and to the satisfaction of the DOJ, which prevented the courts from levying significant fines. This also gave outside counsel the time they needed to formulate a legal strategy that ultimately resolved the matter.

Second, LOGICFORCE collected and processed data in such a way that the corporation’s day-to-day operations were impacted as minimally as possible, given the intrusive nature of this event. While the corporation’s IT team and data custodians were certainly involved in this process, they were still able to do their daily jobs. The corporation maintained operations through this process and still thrives today.

Outside counsel not only effectively represented their client, they also bolstered their reputation as they stood in the spotlight on a national stage. With LOGICFORCE handling the complex technical issues, this regional firm delivered legal services on par with top AMLAW firms.

The law firm’s chief litigator saved the client a great deal of money and prevented unnecessary distribution of sensitive data. This produced greater recognition in this industry for their ability to handle data-heavy litigation matters.

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