Boo! Scary E-Discovery Stories

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Since it’s Halloween, I thought I might tell some ghost stories. . . Some truly spooky e-discovery tales! Here are few of the scariest stories I know:

  • It’s 3 pm on the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving. The phone rings, and it’s one of our best clients. The reason for the call? The in-house litigation attorney just found out from the company’s outside counsel that a court-ordered production from an additional custodian is due on Monday. But counsel didn’t ask for the custodian’s documents to be collected until this morning. . . And now a 20 GB collection must be processed, searched, reviewed, and produced over the next four days. Horrifying!
  • After a large collection of documents from several important custodians was processed and loaded for review, we are asked to run a set of search terms against the collection. After running the terms, we conduct a quick review of a small statistical sample of documents, and we determine that the precision of the search is only 10% – which means that 90% of documents in the review set are non-responsive “false hits” on the search terms. When we provide these results to counsel and offer suggestions for how the terms can be adjusted and optimized to improve the precision, they tell us “Oh, it’s too late for that. We already agreed to all these terms with the opposing side.” Terrifying!
  • A client gives us a call to let us know that they are shipping an external hard drive to our data center for processing. The client warns us that the drive might be a bit “compromised” . . . perhaps a little “damaged” . . . But they would appreciate anything we can do to recover the data on the drive. When we ask what happened to the drive, the client sighs and says, “The custodian of the drive found out that he was under investigation for insider trading, and before we could collect all his various storage devices, he took a hammer to the hard drive.” Frightening!

I hope I haven’t scared you too much. And I hope you aren’t being haunted by e-discovery stories like these . . . Happy Halloween!

Author Details
Senior Vice President, Discovery Strategy & Data Privacy/Security
A recognized thought leader in e-discovery, Maureen collaborates with the company’s clients and operations teams to develop innovative information strategies for legal discovery, compliance, and sensitive data protection. She speaks and writes frequently on significant issues in e-discovery and information governance, and participates actively in the Sedona Conference Working Groups on Electronic Document Retention and Production and Data Privacy and Security. Prior to DiscoverReady, Maureen was a partner at Paul Hastings LLP, where she represented Fortune 100 companies in complex employment litigation matters.
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