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Practice Spotlight: Forensic technology and end-to-end eDiscovery

Practice Spotlight: Forensic technology and end-to-end eDiscovery

By Victoria Larkin

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FT is the practice of identifying, preserving, processing, analysing and producing electronically stored information (ESI) in a forensically sound manner (by adhering to court standards of preservation) from any number of electronic devices. This includes laptops, mobile phones, enterprise servers, and data stored in large scale cloud technologies and environments.

After ESI has been identified and preserved, the processes used in eDiscovery are designed to whittle down irrelevant data and provide platforms for legal teams to review the subsequent potentially relevant documents. This is particularly important for litigation, disputes, investigations and data breach matters so that legal teams can access, interrogate and analyse all of the information. Increasingly, machine learning or analytical data models are utilised to identify and group together relevant data. The goal of the eDiscovery process is to evaluate, refine, present and then produce relevant data and reports to other parties.  

McGrathNicol manager Victoria Larkin is currently in a dual role in FT and eDiscovery. Below is a conversation between McGrathNicol director Michael Gray and Victoria Larkin about what that entails.

How did you come into this role?

I fell into this role and career path by chance. It wasn’t until I started working at a law firm that I realised that FT and eDiscovery were crucial parts of building your case arguments and producing court admissible evidence. I progressed from being in the litigation review team, to a member of an in-house eDiscovery team and then to my current dual role in FT and eDiscovery for a boutique professional services firm.

What does a standard day in your role look like?

I never quite know what the day will bring. Each case is unique and we can’t apply a one-size-fits-all approach to cases, so we need to offer creative and flexible solutions. This is because every day we are dealing with more user created data (emails and documents) and system created data (eg activity tracking data like health and GPS data) than ever before. Dealing with these increasing volumes requires leveraging advanced technological approaches.

There are days where I attend client sites for forensic tasks and then other days where I focus more on eDiscovery matters. Simply put, no two days are the same.

Do you have any advice for any law students or young lawyers wanting to get into this area?

Universities are starting to offer FT and eDiscovery courses. I wish I had the same opportunities to explore this area when I was studying at university. I would recommend reaching out to the head of an eDiscovery team to get a better idea of the work involved – you could even end up transferring to the team like I did. Initiative is a highly regarded attribute and will help you get a foot in the door.

Tip of the month

Engage with an FT and eDiscovery team as early as you can when you start a new matter. Their expertise in data capture, extraction and eDiscovery processes will help you ensure that the evidence presented to court meets the court’s standards and they’ll help you implement efficient workflows from the beginning to save time and ultimately cost for your clients. Clients often try a do-it-yourself approach but the courts require rigour and engaging an expert can help in the long run.

Michael Gray is a director of Forensic Technology and Cyber Practice at McGrathNicol and Victoria Larkin is an admitted Australian lawyer and a manager in the practice.

 


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