Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

So here we are at the end of May already.  How time flies!!

I haven't had chance to break out my bike yet, but I've been getting plenty of walks in with the surprisingly good weather we've been having recently. 

One of my favorite local walks is around the cemetery just up the road from my house.  There's something very relaxing about walking along the paths between the trees, grass and old gravestones away from the traffic.  Me and my husband often chuckle over some of the names on the gravestones: SPACE SAMS is one of our favorites - who was the unfortunate astronaut Sam, and what did he do to deserve being spaced for it?  Or how about SLATTERY - a curious mix of slander and flattery, perhaps?  Not to mention the number of names that sound like they belong on big law firm letterheads.

But this weekend in particular, among the old forgotten gravestones and odd names, were many, many Stars and Stripes planted by proud, sad and thankful families. 

In between the barbecues, dips in the backyard pool and mall sales, let's not forget the real reason for Memorial Day.

To all who serve: Thank you.

Friday, May 7, 2010

eDiscovery on a Shoestring

On Wednesday, June 2nd, I'll be doing a free lunchtime seminar looking at low-cost eDiscovery.  Topics to be covered include low cost tools to help you manage your eDiscovery, and when it's worth bringing in a vendor.  Lunch will be provided.

The seminar will be held at the Ellicott Square Building at 205 Main St., Buffalo, NY in the Bearrs Stearn conference room.  Please contact me for more information, or RSVP here if you're on Facebook, or here if you're on LinkedIn.  RSVP's are due by Monday, May 31st.

See you then!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In the dark on e-Discovery

Many thanks to Beth Bialis, paralegal coordinator at Hodgson Russ, LLP here in Buffalo, for mentioning me in her article "In the dark on e-Discovery?" in Monday's edition of the Buffalo Law Journal. 

Beth quotes from an article I did a couple of years ago on about the need to be proactive when it comes to eDiscovery.  I'm not sure whether to be happy or sad that something I wrote two years ago continues to be relevant: I had hoped that we would have moved beyond the idea that being proactive is something unusual.

The original is available here for a limited time, or you can contact me for a copy.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Small Firm eDiscovery

Back in January, Craig Ball wrote an article in Law Technology News about eDiscovery on a budget.  Also known as the "EDna Challenge", Ball took a hypothetical lawyer (Edna) at a small law firm, with a bunch of ESI sent to her by her client on two DVDs.  The total number of documents (including emails) was going to be no more than 100,000 by the time the case was done and she had a budget of $1,000 to spend on software and hardware, but not a penny more.

Ball polled some of the leading minds in eDiscovery to see what they could come up with.  There wasn't much in the way of off-the-shelf software.  But with some ingenuity you can put together a suite of tools that will help those on tiny budgets to review ESI without spending upwards of $10,000 for the "standard" suite of LAW/Discovery Cracker/etc. + Summation/Concordance/Caselogistix.

First, it's a good idea to figure out what you have on those DVDs.  A large collection of zip files is going to require different handling to a bunch of regular MS Office files and PSTs (though PSTs can present their own challenges . . .).  A couple of good options, both mentioned in Ball's article, for figuring out what you have are Karen's Power Tools ($30), which includes utilities for listing directory contents and hashing files, or FTK Imager (FREE!).  FTK Imager will not only inventory what you have, but export it along with file system metadata and hash values to a csv file which can be loaded into your review tool of choice.

dtSearch was mentioned a number of times in Ball's article and is a relatively inexpensive option at $199 per license for robust keyword searching.  It has fuzzy, phonic, wildcard, stemming and thesaurus search options and will provide you with search reports showing you the hits in context.  Plus it has forensic indexing and searching tools (always a good option to have). 

dtSearch can be used to search within PST files, but only if that PST is available through an Outlook profile.  An easier approach would be to use either Aid4Mail (about $50) or Trident Lite (FREE!)

A license of Quick View Plus will run $46 and not only saves you the trouble of having to purchase software you don't have just so you can view ESI in that format, but also saves you having to open & close umpteen programs as you conduct your review.  Or having numerous programs open with numerous evidentiary documents of various formats open within them.  Either way, you're saving yourself a time and money hog.

For reviewing all the data, Edna could use either MS Excel (about $200 if you don't have it) or MS Access (also about $200 if you don't have it).  Of the two, MS Access is probably the better choice thanks to its more powerful search features among other reasons, but in a pinch, MS Excel could be used. 

So what is Edna's total cost here?
  • FTK Imager:  FREE
  • dtSearch:  $199
  • Aid4Mail: $50
  • Quick View Plus: $46
  • MS Access: $200
Total expenditure: About $500.  And that's assuming she doesn't have MS Access, which, is included in MS Office Professional 2007.

So what should Edna do with that extra $500 (or $700) in her budget?  She should buy an independent eDiscovery consultant's time.  $500 should buy you about four hours with a consultant which should be enough time to put together the all important process documentation and get a decent MS Access database set up for reviewing the documents.

Having the right tools is certainly helpful, but understanding the right way to use them is even more important.  This is what I do for my clients on a budget - get them the inexpensive tools they need, but also help them figure out the best workflow for their case.  A botched workflow can lose a case; using one good tool over another rarely makes a difference.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Back soon . . . !!

My poor blog has been sadly neglected, but I do have a good excuse! I moved country. Well okay, I moved about 10 miles from Fort Erie, ON, to Buffalo, NY. But it was a lot of work even so - something about that international border inbetween.

I promise I'll be back soon with more insightful blogs. I have some exciting things planned for this year and I'm looking forward to telling you all about it!