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The challenges of public sector eDiscovery

| Written by Imogen Fraser-Clark

Government / Public Sector agencies face a multitude of additional challenges to the eDiscovery process when compared with privately-owned organisations, challenges that can make procuring reliable and robust end-to-end services that much more difficult.

Common challenges presented in government eDiscovery are as follows: 

  1. Rising volumes of data that is usually housed within disparate systems.
  2. Handling interdepartmental communication.
  3. Staying ahead of the curve.
  4. Procuring end-to-end solutions.

Rising Volumes of Data:

According to Deloitte's 2019 Benchmarking Study of eDisocvery Practices for Government Agencies, 22% of respondents listed "volume of data" as one of the top three challenges they face when identifying, collecting and processing data for eDiscovery or freedom of information cases. In terms of the amount of data per case, 36% of respondents stated that had handled cases with more than a terabyte of data in a single case, and this was pre-pandemic. Post-Covid19 we have seen a massive influx of new data types stored in more varied locations than ever before, and this is especially the case for government bodies.

Of course, this survey was completed by government bodies in America, so we could expect there to be some disparity between these results and what we might have found had this survey been taken in the UK or even Europe. In general, however, it is fair to say that the overarching challenges facing government eDiscovery remain ultimately the same, only changing in the degree of priority or severity depending on location.

How can we support clients through handling this data across multiple systems? 

At Altlaw we use the RelativityOne Platform to host, process and review your data. This is a powerful platform that can handle huge volumes of data with little to no trouble. We also excel in areas such as Active Review, where the review process is aided by Artificial Intelligence that acts alongside your reviewers. These latest technological developments ensure that your data is not only secure in an industry-leading platform but that the review process itself is quick, cost-effective and efficient. If anything the more documents you have, the more profound the insights Active Learning can offer you so large data bundles are often preferred. 

Collecting this data doesn't have to be a laborious process either. Our team is well equipped and experienced at handling remote data collections in a forensically sound manner and is able to collect data from many different locations.   

Interdepartmental communication:

Group therapy in session sitting in a circle in a bright room

Another key challenge public organisations face is their department structure. While this is an excellent way of delegating responsibility and ensuring the efficient running of a large organisation, it does bring up some difficulties when collecting information for eDiscovery or Freedom Of Information (FOI) projects. Not only does it lead to a lot of duplicate information (easily fixable with de-duplication and filtering tools) it also means you will have to manage several data hosts and information stakeholders that will need to be kept in the loop regarding the progression of the project and what information is required etc.

How can we support clients with interdepartmental communication? 

Communicating between several different departments has never been easier with our Altlaw Ingenium. Our members-only area on our website collates all our most useful resources in one place meaning anyone on any project can have immediate access to help. Our Any Questions Answered section also allows users to ask our project managers questions in real time. This is especially effective for remote review Because Altlaw is the centralised fulcrum of the process - we can provide knowledge sessions to multiple teams of individuals involved in the project, either in-person or virtually through our Ingenium.

We also make regular communication with key stakeholders in a case a priority and are as transparent as possible. Effective communication between yourself, your project manager and your reviewers is the best way to ensure the smooth running of your project and we try our best top facilitate this. 

Staying ahead of the curve:

With all the other challenges facing government bodies, ensuring all your technology and processes are cutting-edge is an absolute necessity. Unfortunately, this can be incredibly expensive to maintain, especially on the software side, and regularly training your staff on how to use these new softwares will take valuable time. On the other hand, the consequences that may arise from having out-of-date software and processes can be significantly worse! It seems that government bodies are stuck in between a rock and a hard place, but not for long!  

How do we keep you ahead of the curve?

At Altlaw, our dedicated Innovation Group continually strives to keep us at the forefront of technological advancement within the industry, thus the increasing volumes and varieties of data now found in our constantly changing data landscape are well within the capabilities of our team and our technology.

End-to-end solution:

Using many different tools and softwares to complete different aspects of an eDisocvery project is quite common within public sector eDiscovery. Different departments will have different software needs, different budgets and different priorities. The use of these softwares, while each specialised in its own right, often leads to discrepancies within the data produced, and can even lead to loss of data in transfers between platforms.

This is why procuring an end-to-end solution should be a priority for any public organisation, especially when considering the level of visibility of a public organisation compared to a private one, loss of data and other data security issues can have devastating effects. 

Providing an end-to-end service

Altlaw eDiscovery has the capability to execute and manage the entire process from collection and hosting, right through to review and trial presentation. This ensures the integrity of every project from start to finish, as no data ever leaves our secure environment, and allows for a single point of contact with centralised billing. 

For further information about our services why not download our Altlaw Guide for free? 

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