There was a good article today at Law.com: "Do-It-Yourself E-Discovery," by Craig Ball. It began with this compelling lead:
Recently, a Texas firm received a dozen Microsoft Outlook .pst files from a client. Like the dog that caught the car, they weren't sure what to do next. Even out on the prairie, they'd heard of online hosting and e-mail analytics, but worried about the cost. They wondered: Did they really need an e-discovery vendor? Couldn't they just do it themselves?
As a computer forensic examiner, I blanch at the thought of lawyers harvesting data and processing e-mail in native formats.
"Guard the chain of custody," I want to warn. "Don't mess up the metadata! Leave this stuff to the experts!"
But the trial lawyer in me wonders how a solo/small firm practitioner in a run-of-the-mill case is supposed to tell a client, "Sorry, the courts are closed to you because you can't afford e-discovery experts."
In the rest of the article, Ball explores do-it-yourself options for searching .pst files. In the end, Ball settles on dtSearch, the search program I happen to use to index and search the work product--briefs, motions, letters, etc.--that I have on my computer. I've used dtSearch for a number of years and agree its a great solution, although I've never used it as a tool for electronic discovery.
I'm looking forward to Ball's next "Do-It-Yourself-E-Discovery" article. It's a concept that would make a great series.