For Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks, e-discovery can be overwhelming. Securities and Exchange Commission and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority regulations demand six-year records for licensed brokers. "People have an average of 30,000 e-mails per year per person," says deputy general counsel Brian Edwards.
Over the last five years, that has meant as many as 1.5 million documents for a single matter. Throwing $150-$300-per-hour law firm associates at the mess, for privilege and responsiveness review, is too expensive. "Without a tool that would let you do it faster ... you could get 50-100 document decisions per hour per person," Edwards says. That's 3,000 documents for one person's 40-hour week: "Then do the math for 900,000."
Being in a nonregulated industry doesn't make data problems go away. People use e-mail and texting. Storage is cheap, so companies begin to keep everything. There are databases everywhere. Even photocopiers have hard drives inside of them. The files themselves have become larger, with voice mail and high-resolution images and video. Once, e-discovery involving dozens of gigabytes would have been considered large. Now cases rise into hundreds and even thousands of terabytes. When the numbers get big, so do costs.
Technology can help, but what works in smaller matters can unravel at higher volumes. Companies must prevent unnecessary data from being stored in the first place, use smart sampling methods to analyze material, employ specialized software, and learn to work closely with IT departments to handle the flood of information without breaking the budget.
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By: Erik Sherman