The credit crisis is sending the economy into a tailspin. Meanwhile, legal professionals await the litigation fallout from the issuance of so many bad mortgages.
It is this anticipated abundance of litigation that experts believe could wake a sleeping giant, known as structured data, that might forever change the scope of e-discovery. Structured data is information that is managed and stored in an organized system, typically a database, as opposed to unstructured data, such as e-mails and Word documents.
First, databases can be huge. Consider a database of employees at Microsoft Corp. The software company employs about 79,000 people worldwide. If within the database each employee had five fields attributed to him, that would equal 395,000 data fields that would need to be collected, processed and reviewed to respond to a discovery request.
There's also the issue of retrieval. Discovery requests often require the company to extract certain types of information from the system that aren't requested during the ordinary course of business. "You can't just run your standard business-function reporting and generate material for discovery," Montana says.