The time when attorneys could ignore e-Discovery in California is long gone. Today, every attorney is expected to be competent in the gathering and preserving of e-Discovery information, and the courts are increasingly intolerant of any lack of familiarity or compliance. In almost every type of court case, e-Discovery is assumed to be no problem. But even for experience attorneys, there are inherent challenges to e-Discovery in California.
One challenge that can overwhelm any firm or individual attorney is the sheer volume of electronic data to review for content, privilege and relevance. Manual review is becoming increasingly impractical as the volume of data increases. Computer forensic experts using sophisticated computer algorithms are now almost a necessity to properly cull and then identify the truly relevant information that should be produced. Even small cases can generate more electronic material than can be easily handled.
The digital nature of this material also carries with it a challenge: Different file formats, varying degrees of metadata, encryption, and old electronic files maintained in obsolete formats or containers can make even a small sample of e-Discovery material difficult to deal with. Technical expertise is increasingly crucial.
A challenge inherent to e-Discovery in California is non-text assets such as images, PDF files created from scanned originals, and other flat artifacts that cannot be automatically read and indexed, requiring physical examination and keyboarding. This becomes more of a manpower challenge than a technical one, as a large component of such documents can bog down even a large staff, slowing down the process and taking resources from other cases as you try to work through the mountain of opaque data.
As e-Discovery becomes increasingly vital so does expertise in handling that data.