There has always been a cost barrier in the beginning phase of data collection at the onset of a new case or investigation. Many clients view the collection of data to be an opportunity to cut costs by utilizing their own IT personnel. Countless sanctions and missteps of this practice over the last several years have pushed the technology in our industry to evolve. Today, there are a number of remote data collection tools that allow data to be collected by vendors quickly and at a fraction of the cost, while maintaining a high level of defensibility and accuracy.
Don’t be fooled - there is still only one way that you will get a forensic-level collection accomplished, and that is with the help of forensic professionals onsite using forensic tools. With that in mind, many of the investigations and eDiscovery matters today simply do not require a level of deep dive forensics into deleted data and double deleted data that can be accomplished when a forensic collection is done.
Consider the following scenario: A complaint is filed and demands are served that will require you to collect, review, and produce responsive emails and office documents for your entire sales force. You have 20 sales people spread over 10 states, and they all work from home. Perhaps you are running a cloud-based exchange environment, so you assume the email collection will be no problem. However, email is cached on each sales person’s laptop, which means you will need to collect the data directly from these laptops. Five years ago there were few options in a situation like this - you would likely have to engage a forensic team to travel to each location and image each laptop, or have the sales force ship each and every laptop to the forensic team, which would put a halt to most sales efforts during the collection phase. Both of these scenarios are costly and, if there was no request for deleted information or a full forensic investigation, they are total overkill. In that scenario, there is only a need to collect data for review in a defensible manner without spoliating the documents or altering any metadata.
Today’s tool sets, when driven by a professional, can allow companies like ours to collect all of the data needed for demands and investigations without leaving our office – or you leaving yours. It goes without saying that this can provide both a big cost savings and an extremely quick response time to collection needs. With the onset of remote workforces, these tools provide a means to collect data from multiple locations simultaneously and within minutes.
So, at the beginning of a matter, consult with your vendor to discuss all of the options and the challenges you will face, so that they can help craft the most appropriate and cost effective approach to collecting the data most crucial to your matter.
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