One of the most expensive technical portions of e-discovery is something called “processing.” Nontechnical personnel involved in e-discovery, including many lawyers, have only the vaguest notion of what is done in the processing phase. They know that data that is collected goes in one end and comes out the other ready for review, but what happens in between is a mystery. However, there are some potentially important choices involved in the processing phase that could significantly impact what electronically stored information (ESI) is available for review and production, as well as impact associated costs.
The general objectives of processing include identifying exactly what elements or items of ESI have been submitted for processing, including their associated metadata. This allows intelligent and informed decisions to be made that can reduce the volume of data selected for continuation along the path to review. At the same time, the application of processing technology and analysis to the data needs to be performed under strict standards of quality control and to bear in mind chain of custody requirements.