“My mamma always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” – Forrest Gump.
We attended Legalweek 2017 in New York City last week (Jan 31 – Feb 2, 2017), and one night we ate out at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Factory. As we reminisced about the movie, I started to think about this famous saying.
Can we now say “eDiscovery is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get”? Let’s think about this for a moment: when it comes to the discovery process, we look at the custodians and ask what data may they have that is relevant. We perform custodian interviews, asking them where they store their data, their physical documents, what data they have in their possession, what data they currently do not have and so on. Think of the Custodian Data as the box that the chocolates are in, then within the box, is the plastic container tray. This can be the various data repositories that have been identified in the organization (of which come in different shapes and sizes and types). The chocolates themselves are the specific types of data that are collected: production email, archived email, personal network files, shared network files for departments / groups / project teams, document management systems, collaborative systems (like Microsoft SharePoint, Lotus Notes Repositories, other Intranet Sites), physical documents, mobile devices, data stored on local hard drives, data stored on USB media, data stored on CD and DVD media, backup media, etc.
When you think of each of these data sets, you never know what you’re going to get. That is, until you look at it, perform various Early Case Assessment, or processing steps. Possibly, the email files will be the sweet and juicy “Cherry Blossom” that are easy to gather, and quickly identified. Alternatively, the document management systems may be a tougher nut to crack; like the chocolate covered almonds, or a chocolate covered nut cluster. All of these data types could be mapped to the various crèmes, caramels, nougats, and other fillings. The eDiscovery landscape is fraught with varying degrees of difficulty to identify, collect, preserve, analyze or process.
Regardless, there is a sweet feeling when you find what you are looking for. Caution though; if you have too much chocolate there is that overwhelming ill-feeling that can come over you from hastily digging through and trying different chocolates as you attempt to find the “Cherry Blossom.” In many cases you ultimately end up not finding what you are looking for. Eventually, everyone learns to recognize where the “Cherry Blossom” is, whether through trial and error (aka sampling), learning from previous matters and investigations (aka lessons learned), or looking at the map of the chocolates that came with the box (aka Data Map). If you think of this from an eDiscovery perspective; proper documentation of our data sources and development of data maps will help us be able to better “Cherry Pick” that Blossom we are looking for. In the event that you have to eat the whole box, only to find there were no “Cherry Blossoms” in that box, you will need to go back to the custodian and try to find another box of chocolates. The harsh reality is that in some cases this chocolate may not have been shared with you. This may be an indication that your custodian interview and questionnaires may not be as thorough as you initially thought.
Ultimately, I hope your investigations and ediscovery efforts come to a satisfying end. Just like the satisfaction of getting that “Cherry Blossom” from a box of chocolates.
President and Lead Consultant
REW Computing Inc.