16 May 2023
Collaboration during litigation is critical to ensure that all relevant information is discovered and reviewed. However, the emergence of various communication platforms like Slack and Teams has made the process more challenging. Collecting data from these platforms can be difficult as messages are stored differently, and there are different types of communications and channels to consider. Additionally, preserving and collecting collaboration data, and deciding on the best method to do so, presents another challenge. This article (part 3 of a 4-part series) explores the challenges involved in collaboration during litigation and how technology can help address these issues.
Collaboration Data Challenges During Litigation
Defining the scope of a search and determining what to review and produce can be challenging when dealing with data that includes various communication platforms, such as Slack and Teams. While collecting data from specific custodians, such as emails and documents, has been a common strategy, these new communication tools make it difficult because messages can be stored and managed differently on each platform, and within each platform, there are different types of communications and channels with messages stored in different places.
For example, in Slack, there are one-on-one direct messages, group messages, private channels, and public channels, while in Teams, there are meeting chats, shared channels, and messages stored in personal mailboxes or new mailboxes created for particular channels. In addition, files, links, and apps can be intertwined with messages, making it challenging to identify the scope of the search and collection when dealing with litigation.
A second challenge involves preserving and collecting collaboration data and deciding on the best method to do so. Recent polls have shown that there isn’t a single industry standard on what tools to use to collect data from various platforms, and people use different methods. So there is no single right way to collect data.
Choosing a preservation and collection tool depends on various factors, and it’s essential to understand what they do or don’t do. Some tools may not have robust search capabilities, and some may not export all the metadata fields needed. Preserving data in place is a growing option for ensuring data needed for impending litigation is not accidentally deleted. But you also need to check to see how this type of preservation tool works with your current data retention policies. With so many variables, it’s crucial to weigh everything against the needs of your legal and IT departments.
A final collaboration data challenge during litigation is producing and reviewing documents. Again, there is no industry standard or best practice for this, as every collection tool and vendor may process and produce documents differently.
Examples include the raw export file from Slack, which contains a lot of data and metadata that may not be suitable for use in litigation, and different types of displays after processing and production. As with preservation and collection, It is essential to be aware of possible variations to understand how the information will be presented during review and production.
How Can Technology Help During Litigation
- Modern data collection tools allow the user to call out important data from a vast ocean of channels and multi-party direct messages, and they emphasize the importance of mapping out crucial information and using technology to filter it down or call that data as early in the process as possible.
- Preservation in place is a widely used method and is highly effective in preserving data at its creation point within various platforms like Microsoft 365, Google Vault, and Slack. This approach helps in preserving the data in its original location without requiring it to be copied and stored elsewhere, which can pose a security risk and consume more cloud space.
- The exportation of data to a review platform has also become easier, with systems now able to transform JSON objects into a more readable format, making it easier for lawyers to present the data in court.
Collaboration during litigation presents significant challenges, especially when dealing with communication platforms like Slack and Teams. However, technology has provided some solutions to these challenges. By leveraging this technology, alongside updating your processes, legal and IT departments can streamline their collaboration processes during litigation, saving time and resources.