Data Discovery: Why it Never Hurts to Ask

Author: Neil McLean

Often during conversations with our clients we are asked if specific information can be discovered in a case.

“Can you trace the source of negative Google reviews?”

“Can you tell if a phone was on or off during a 20-minute window that is important to our case?”

“When I delete a picture from my phone, can you still recover it?”

At this point, many of our clients are used to hearing the response, “It depends,” or, “Maybe. Let me get back to you on that.” I used to also assume that all data is recorded somewhere, and with the right tools, should be able to be discovered. Although some cases end in disappointment when attempting to track down data that could prove useful, others end in success through a combination of education, cooperation, and creativity.

When faced with an unusual request, we often must educate ourselves- in short order- in a very specific technological realm. For example, a business is utilizing a little-known instant messenger chat system to communicate internally which is discoverable per opposing’s Requests For Production. The developer(s) of that system weren’t thinking of the Rules of Civil Procedure when designing it or taking careful measures to ensure that information could be exported in a format that is easily readable. So, we take stock of the technological infrastructure of that software, the data available to us, and then customize a workflow to incorporate that information into the EDRM in a way that won’t disrupt the usual flow for legal professionals. In this case, we were able to normalize the data using software and techniques we had used for other processes, so it worked out well.

Other times we are left scratching our heads and need to reach out for help, just as you reached out to us. We have been fortunate enough to meet some incredibly talented and driven people from around the world who, like us, love to deliver high levels of service to clients by staying informed, testing software, developing strategy, and sharing ideas and experiences.

Just recently I was struggling trying to gain access to a proprietary DVR system and was at that “beat my head against a wall” moment trying to get the support team of that system to throw me a bone. I ended up reaching out to a network of forensic investigators to see if anyone had encountered this issue before, and within an hour I had 3 replies directing me to a software that can access and recover deleted information from almost all DVR systems on the market. I wasted a week of back-and-forth communications trying to solve the problem on my own!

Contrary to that point, I admit that it can be extremely rewarding to put your head down and solve a problem or push a project to the finish line on your own. I think sometimes I like it because it’s nice to prove that I can do it. Most times, though, I’ve found that engaging others in our community is the most effective way to learn, collaborate, and solve the ever-changing, complex problems we often face. So I implore you to ask the question. Engage us or others in the community. Who knows? You might ask a question that truly has never been asked, and the time to solve the problem on your own will come. Maybe the answer will be, “No, it’s not possible.”  And that’s OK. Not all problems can be solved. But maybe it will give you, and those around you, the opportunity to break new ground and form new ideas that can be shared with the community that is, so reliably, always here to help.

Meet Jeff Dreiling, Co-Founder, Complete Legal

Contact us with your data discovery questions.

We’re here to make discovery easier on you. We welcome the opportunity to talk to you about how we can help collect, exchange, and process the data in your case. Contact Neil to learn more.

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2019-03-08T20:37:12+00:00 Discovery, Pre-Discovery|