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The Current State of Collections for e-Discovery and Compliance

Barry O'Melia

Collections for e-discovery and compliance are at a tipping point. The way organizations need to collect data is fundamentally changing before our eyes.

Discovery teams are facing myriad of challenges hitting all at once: exponentially growing data volumes, a mass migration to the cloud, increasingly frequent and complex requests for information, and proliferation of increasingly disparate types of data and communications platforms. This perfect storm had been brewing for years—and then COVID-19 hit, resulting in business changes that accelerated the circumstances almost exponentially.

At Relativity, we’re continuously developing RelativityOne Collect with the intent to meet teams like yours where the real needs are: enabling data collection in an increasingly cost effective and defensible fashion, despite widespread custodians and data sources, and with the merit of every matter in mind.

Collections Workflows: Past and Present

In the early days of e-discovery, a traditional collection meant you’d have to invest in a number of different forensics tools and hire or train a very specialized workforce to them. This can invite a lot of confusion and slowdowns: Where is the data stored and who needs to grab it? Which tool is most appropriate in this case? What data types can each tool handle? What data sources? And how quickly can it work?

And that’s all before you even migrate the collected data into an e-discovery platform.

Today, the data landscape is different. In fact, much of the data that ends up in Relativity—whether it’s in-house or with a partner—exists in the cloud in one form or another. But, still relying on traditional processes, many teams are pulling this data down from a cloud and saving it somewhere local, only to turn it around and push it back up to another cloud platform for review. It’s an inherently inefficient process.

Another key challenge in this process is endpoint collections. The custodian who used to be just down the hall is now working remote from who knows where. You can no longer quickly plug a hard drive into their machine and grab files. Travel restrictions and a scattered workforce have further complicated this process. So with a traditional collection workflow or tool set, there aren’t a lot of easy solutions for endpoint collections—short of having that person (who is potentially the subject of an investigation) sending their hard drive in, which could take weeks.

How Can Collections Get Better?

Collection may not be anyone’s favorite step in the EDRM, but by focusing on improving your processes for the early stages of discovery, you can have tremendous impact throughout a matter in terms of time, cost, data volumes, and risk reduction.

But you need the right tools to do it.

Enter Collect. By empowering your team to more effectively target your collections, we can help you collect just what you need. You shouldn’t have to worry about under collecting and missing out on that critical piece of information because you’re constrained by time, geography, or resources—nor should you worry about over collecting and holding excess sensitive data, potentially laden with irrelevant confidential information, and putting your team at risk because time and resource pressures forced you to just grab everything.

We also know that the review process can be intimidating enough—and parsing through mountains of non-relevant data or missing something crucial because an arbitrary collection window has closed and specialists are no longer on hand shouldn’t have to happen, either.

Bottom line? e-Discovery teams should be able to perform rote tasks like performing cloud collections from Microsoft 365 themselves, with the flexibility and agility to access such data stores in an integrated, easy-to-use way. Bring in forensic specialists to focus on the matters that really need their attention, and empower your team to do the rest.

The RelativityOne Collect Vision

With Collect, our goal is to make collections a non-issue—a step in the process that takes no more attention than sending an email or running a search.

That means, in an ideal state, we would eliminate the burden of collections altogether so you can get to the truth sooner in an easily accessible, understandable, and usable format. The process shouldn’t impose a burden—it shouldn’t even cross your mind.

That’s the dream and that’s what we’re working toward: Eliminating the process, the steps, the drain on resources, the chances for error, and the risks—and ultimately getting collection out of the way so you can focus on interpreting the facts.

We’re on our way there. Today, Collect’s mission is to provide you an easy-to-use, defensible way to collect from all your data sources. It ensures your team can do more, and you can do it easier.

The Look and Feel of Collections in RelativityOne

We’ve made some great strides in bringing this vision to life. The recent acquisition of VerQu, a data management software company, has helped us enable collections from some of the most widely used enterprise collaboration data platforms like Bloomberg Chat and WebEx, as well as archives like Enterprise Vault and Proofpoint. We’ve also recently rolled out integrations with Slack, Google Workspace, and Microsoft Teams. Additionally, our integration with endpoint collection provider X1 allows us to fundamentally change the way your team can expect to think about remote collections.  

If you jump into Collect today, you’ll find that it can:

  • Draw files directly from the cloud into a secured RelativityOne instance.
  • Collect from a range of popular data sources and endpoints, with one simple, defensible, repeatable process.
  • Collect directly, remotely, and targeted from endpoints anywhere in the world in minutes.
  • Provide a central point of truth for all your collection challenges and questions with easily accessible answers from your solution provider as well as an extensive community to lean on.
  • Collect short message data from platforms like Slack and Teams in its native and intuitive format, with all the context, like threads, reactions, deleted messages, and emojis. A native-looking view presents these conversations how they were created to be seen, which helps review teams more easily interpret nuance and meaning.
  • Offer the same intuitive user interface across data sources, so any user can easily collect from a wide range of cloud applications without any specialized training. Anyone on your team can identify all of a custodian’s data and collect what’s needed in a defensible and efficient way, without deep forensic training and without even having to handle the data.
  • Provide a defensible record to ensure that all custodians, from legal hold on, are tracked and collected from in an end-to-end e-discovery platform—keeping data safe by eliminating the need to download, upload, and reload at different stages of the process.
  • Store data in many different legal jurisdictions, via data centers located across the globe. This allows you to preserve your data wherever your local regulations require.

This industry is constantly in flux. While Collect has improved this traditionally tedious experience, we know the pace of change will continue to accelerate. It is our commitment to remain on the vanguard of change and to continue to bring solutions to the organizations that rely on us to discover the truth ever more quickly and effortlessly.

Learn About Short Message Review in Relativity in this Webinar


Barry O'Melia was a senior group product manager at Relativity.