Preparing the Production, Production Fundamentals Series Part 5

5 / 6

A multi-part series on the fundamentals eDiscovery practitioners need to know about the preparation and production of ESI

In “The Final Countdown,” we discussed the importance of production and the primary production formats.  In “The Nitty-Gritty and Other Reduplications,” we discussed other important production format considerations.  In “Who Gets to Decide,” we discussed what the FRCP have to say about who selects the production format.  In “Production Format Disputes,” we discussed some example production dispute cases.  In this Part, we review the actual preparation of the production.

Now that we have reviewed the range of production formats available, the additional decisions that need to be made, and the rules and cases about who gets to make all those decisions, it’s time to review the actual preparation of the production in the chosen format.  This process is typically a collaboration between members of the case team and the internal or external technical professionals responsible for administrating your chosen processing and review platforms.

Final Preparatory Checks

The first part of this process rests with the case team – potentially, in collaboration with external review project managers.  Before the actual production can be prepared, the final set of materials to be produced must be identified and final checks must be run on those materials:

  • Checks to be sure all documents in the proposed production set are tagged as having been reviewed and as being both responsive and non-privileged
    • This check of tagging may be backstopped by running term searches for key privilege indicators (e.g., attorneys’ names) and double-checking any results
  • Checking to make sure that the proposed production set is family group complete (if that is what has been chosen)
    • And double-checking that all family group members have also been reviewed and determined to be non-privileged
  • Checking for correct handling of email thread members and for consistent handling across near-duplicates
  • Double-checking that all needed redactions have been correctly completed and that any protected status flags (or other indicators for endorsements) have been correctly applied
  • If producing TIFF images, confirm the language and position to be used for required endorsements and confirm the prefix, starting number, and position to be used for Bates numbers

Once all necessary checks have been completed, and the finalized set of materials to be prepared for production has been confirmed, the production preparation process moves to the internal or external technical professionals responsible for administrating your chosen processing and review platforms.

Actual Preparation

At this point in the process, the relevant technical professionals will engage in a series of platform-specific and production format-specific steps to actually generate the final production set for delivery, potentially including:

  • Gathering together the original native files to be produced
  • Generating TIFF images of them, with required endorsements
  • Gathering (or creating) extracted text files for them
    • Including using OCR on redacted images to create redacted extracted text
  • Programmatically renaming and organizing all natives, images, text files, etc.
  • Generating load files that link all those pieces together, in the right format, with required metadata fields included and properly named
    • Including creating any custom fields required (e.g., protected status, request number, etc.)

Depending on the specific production format and steps required, this process can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days.  In particular, generating large numbers of TIFF page images can take a significant amount of time, and for this reason, it is often begun well ahead of final production preparation, when possible, to avoid last-minute time crunch.

Quality Control Checks

Depending on the format choices made, the prepared production set may include thousands of native files, thousands of extracted text files, thousands of TIFF images, and a load file with numerous details about each of those thousands of files.  Before delivery, this prepared production set will be subjected to some combination of quality control checks.  Typically, these are performed by the same technical professionals that prepared the production, but some may also be performed by the case team.

Common quality control checks for a prepared production include:

  • Confirming that file counts in the prepared production match expected counts
  • Spot checking a sampling of metadata fields to verify field names are right, values are right, and value formats are right
  • Verifying that file path links to associated native files, page images, and extracted text files are working correctly
  • Double-checking that all redactions were in fact applied to relevant page images
    • Including double-checking that extracted text for those documents has been either excluded or replaced with OCR text instead
  • Verifying that endorsements have been applied to the correct documents, in the correct location, and using the correct language
    • Including verifying that Bates numbers have been applied starting at the correct number, with the correct prefix, and in the correct location

Members of the case team may also repeat some of the substantive checks performed prior to production preparation to ensure that no privileged or unreviewed materials have been inadvertently pulled into the production set during the actual preparation.

Delivery Options

Finally, once all quality control checks have been completed, the production set must be prepared for delivery to the requesting party.  Options for delivery include delivery on data CDs or DVDs, delivery on flash drives or hard drives, and delivery via cloud-based repositories.  The primary determinant of which you use will be the size of the production:

  • CDs hold around 700 megabytes
  • DVDs typically hold around either 4 or 8 gigabytes
  • Flash drives typically hold dozens or hundreds of gigabytes
  • Hard drives typically hold hundreds of gigabytes or a few terabytes
  • Cloud-based repositories are functionally unlimited in size

In addition to size, another factor to consider is the security of your chosen delivery method – particularly when delivering on discs or drives:

  • Can you encrypt the production data you are providing on the chosen media?
  • Does the chosen drive offer hardware or software level encryption?
  • How will the physical media or drive be delivered?
    • By what separate method will the decryption key be provided?
  • Can you protect the production data from inadvertent alteration during access?

If you are delivering via a cloud-based repository, such as a dedicated Relativity database, there are additional questions to address:

  • Who, specifically, will be granted access to the repository?
  • What features and abilities will be made available to them?
    • Will they be allowed to annotate documents? To export them?  To print them?
  • What files and formats will the database include?
    • Will it include native files? Near-native renderings?  Images?
  • What metadata fields will be made available in the database?
  • Who will pay for hosting, for user accounts, and for any needed training?

Upcoming in this Series

Up next, in the final Part of this series, we will conclude our review of production fundamentals with a discussion of privilege logs, production logs, and key takeaways.

About the Author

Matthew Verga

Director of Education

Matthew Verga is an electronic discovery expert proficient at leveraging his legal experience as an attorney, his technical knowledge as a practitioner, and his skills as a communicator to make complex eDiscovery topics accessible to diverse audiences. A fourteen-year industry veteran, Matthew has worked across every phase of the EDRM and at every level from the project trenches to enterprise program design. He leverages this background to produce engaging educational content to empower practitioners at all levels with knowledge they can use to improve their projects, their careers, and their organizations.

Whether you prefer email, text or carrier pigeons, we’re always available.

Discovery starts with listening.

(877) 545-XACT / or / Email Us