How to Maintain the eDiscovery Chain of Custody

with a plan, it’s easier than you think.

As any legal professional knows, maintaining eDiscovery chain of custody is incredibly important. As new technology is utilized throughout the custody process, new techniques need to be used to manage both discovery and custody tracking. When used properly, technology can make it far easier to track documents and information through many hands — but the documentation needs to be careful, conscientious, and complete.

Here are a few tips to help you properly maintain the chain of custody throughout the discovery process.

Carefully document your data when collected.

Your chain of custody documents should include absolutely everything pertinent about the information. This includes the date the information was collected, the location, the individual who collected it, the owner of the data, and more. eDiscovery chain of custody documents may include the reason that the data was collected and detailed information about the physical location of the data, such as the serial number of a hard drive.

Always document changes and transfers to your data.

Your e discovery chain of custody should include any transfers and copies of your data, eventually holding a complete history of the data following its collection. Thorough notes should be taken regarding any interactions with the data, to ensure that nothing is missed.

Collect and preserve all metadata attributes.

Special software should always be used to preserve as much of the original data of the file as possible. That includes metadata, which may tell you when a document was last modified and who it was modified by. Metadata attributes can be easily overwritten or forgotten if the data is transferred by someone unaware of their relevance. It’s important to remember that ‘copy and paste’ can affect this metadata.

Keep a centralized data repository.

eDiscovery is made far easier by products that are designed to create a central repository for all eDiscovery information, regardless of the file format. Through this, employees will be able to ensure that the chronological history of each file is accurate. The eDiscovery platform will also be able to detect and prevent any potential alterations to these files.

Consider the hiring of a third-party expert.

Third-party, neutral experts are one of the best resources for a legal firm. Not only will they understand the intricacies of document management and handling, but they will also not have the complications of a vested interest in the results of the litigation. Neutral experts will be able to determine whether your documents were handled properly and will be able to speak to the validity of your documentation.

Poor management of the eDiscovery chain of custody could lead to serious issues in litigation.

Luckily, there are ways to streamline and facilitate the process. Through reliable, comprehensive eDiscovery platforms, legal firms are able to track their documents from the moment that they are collected. Also, by having an eDiscovery expert manage the project, firms can worry less about the eDiscovery chain of custody and focus more on winning their cases. For more information about the value of eDiscovery and managing the eDiscovery chain of custody, contact the experts at Platinum IDS.

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Author Sid Newby

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