By Scott Lefton
Native productions are on the rise. Lawyers are quickly realizing the benefits to all parties when it comes to producing files natively. Single-page TIFF productions are still commonplace among many litigators, but this graphics-only format is quickly becoming obsolete in the modern world of today’s e-discovery. With the increase in electronic data (mobile data, Internet chat files, social media and email) and the advancements in document review technology, the “paper discovery” methods of the past, like TIFF and PDF conversion, are increasingly unnecessary and no longer cost effective.
Benefits to Native Production:
- Less expense to all parties involved
- More efficient/shorter review times
- More accurate reviews/increased search accuracy.
- Leverage modern technology for advanced analysis such as: Visualization, Technology Assisted Review, Early Case Assessment, Clustering and Near De-duplication
- Focus on more important issues in the case
- Maintain data integrity and ensure metadata preservation
The first and possibly one of the most important benefits is the ultimate cost savings. A great deal of time and money can be spent converting native files to static TIFF/PDF images, additional OCR fees, metadata extraction and load file creation fees. By exchanging data natively, time and money is saved by eliminating a cumbersome and slow processing/conversion step.
The second benefit is the time saved and efficiency gained during the actual review. With native production, indexes are more accurate and more metadata is exposed. Lawyers can search and filter based on metadata fields such as date created, email domain and document type to cull out irrelevant data. This allows the lawyers to focus their analysis on a smaller data set and speed up the review.
Thirdly, using native productions will guarantee more accurate search results by using “extracted text” over “OCR text.” OCR technology effectiveness and accuracy can vary greatly among the numerous software solutions available today.
Modern legal review platforms excel when using metadata from native files. For instance, you can identify email threads, group related documents together, predictively code files, and use visualization tools to help lawyers graphically “see” emails better. These advanced features cannot be used on files that have been scrubbed to remove metadata during the image conversion process. Furthermore, once data is converted there is a high probability that metadata is destroyed and will not fully translate to the destination review platform.
When lawyers agree to exchange ESI natively, everyone wins. The clients pay less and the lawyers save time and can focus more on the issues/merits of the case. Too often, we see lawyers battling over the production format for the sole purpose of driving up costs for all parties, slowing down progress, and simply trying to make life difficult for the opposing party. Lastly, native productions ensure more data integrity and the best evidence for proving the chain of custody. Once a native file is converted to a static TIFF/PDF image, virtually all metadata is lost. When collecting data, it is commonplace for the collected data to be captured natively and then hashed using an MD5 or SHA1/256 hash code. This is like a digital fingerprint for each record that can be used with scientific certainty to ensure preservation. If files have been converted to TIFF/PDF it is very difficult to trace the origins of that file and to prove to a court of law the metadata remained intact. AccessData recommends all data be collected using a forensic image container such as .E01 or .AD1 to preserve all metadata. The resulting E01 or AD1 file can be directly imported into AccessData® technology for processing and review. This will ensure the integrity of the chain of custody at all times.
So what are the benefits to a TIFF/PDF production? The only benefit is the fact that metadata is scrubbed. One could argue that TIFF/PDF productions allow attorneys to mark-up and document comments on the files. This is no longer necessary since most current-generation document review platforms allow for native annotation. There are very few arguments in the favor of TIFF/PDF production in light of the current advancements in document review technology.
In summary, the benefits of native productions clearly outweigh the benefits of TIFF/PDF productions. Native productions save time and money, leading to speedier resolutions.