Blog hero image

What is Live EDA and is it the Future of Digital Communications Investigations?

Investigations into people’s digital communications have taken place since the advent of email. I’m sure all of us remember the first time someone hit “reply-all” to an organization-wide listserv with a less than appropriate comment meant for a single person. Well things have only gotten worse from there.

Articles highlighting investigations ranging from the NFL to the Boston literary scene have revealed the need for insight and analytics into electronic communications. But because of the time-consuming and costly process these investigations can take, they may be backburnered until they can’t be ignored any longer, instead of being handled quickly and effectively to mitigate risk for all involved.

According to the LegalTech Publishing 2021 eDiscovery Buyer’s Guide, “Unstructured data [has grown] dramatically from the increased use of collaboration and file-sharing platforms as well as the work-from-anywhere trend. The expanding volume includes increasingly complex and diverse data, making it hard to use traditional eDiscovery software…[to locate] hard-to-understand data early, control litigation costs, and reach better, faster outcomes.”

The Gartner 2021 Market Guide for eDiscovery supports this, stating, “As organizations adapt to work-from-home practices, infrastructure and operations leaders need new capabilities to better manage the eDiscovery of workstream collaboration products and to securely conduct eDiscovery remotely,” by “using eDiscovery software vendor and service provider offerings that ‘extend left’ in the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) to establish proactive information governance.”

Tools for collecting all that collaboration data

The report continues, “As eDiscovery vendors expand their use of in-place search, legal teams can introduce early case assessment [sometimes called early data assessment] earlier in the eDiscovery process — reducing the costs associated with subsequent collections, processing and review.”

So, what are users seeking when it comes to technology for investigations?

Again, according to Gartner:

  • Capabilities to cull data before the collection process, while minimizing data volumes earlier in the eDiscovery process
  • Solutions to address eDiscovery [and investigation] requirements in workstream collaboration technologies, such as Microsoft Teams and Slack
  • Solutions that allow legal and compliance users to share data across matters, optimizing storage efficiency and improving results

What is Live EDA?

This is where Live Early Data Assessment (EDA) comes into play. Also known as In-Place Search, the LegalTech Publishing Buyer’s Guide describes it as a solution which “connects with an organization’s data stores and indexes content in place, allowing you to search and cull data before it is even collected. The index serves as a data map with information on where data is, why it’s there, how long it’s been there, and who has access to read and modify it. The data map reports all stored data, including personally identifiable information (PII) and personal health information (PHI).”

It’s clear to see why this would be valuable to an organization when it comes to investigations. Rather than having to identify and collect data, then send it out for processing, and over to outside counsel for review — adding time, cost, and risk in the process — in-house legal, human resources, compliance, and other departments can manage investigations in near real time, allowing them to reach an actionable conclusion extremely fast — sometimes in a matter of hours– rather than days, weeks, months, or even years.

With this kind of quick, agile data insight available, it’s easy to see why more and more legal teams will come to leverage this technology.

Rules for collaboration tools

This ability to gain insight into data in real time is what this month’s eDiscovery Blues cartoon is all about. It also raises the notion that if people are aware that their workplace communications have real-time implications, they may be more careful with how they communicate (just as they are when face-to-face).

It also may even inspire law firms and corporations to create their own specific policy for the use of collaborations to mitigate risk. This white paper describes how to get started with forming an E-Collaboration Policy Team and Conducting an audit.

Learn more about IPRO’s Live EDA.