You’ve got a new litigation that’s been filed either by, or against your client. The client has millions of files that may be vital to your case. Or they may be digital deadweight. What’s the next step — Early Case Assessment (ECA) or Early Data Assessment (EDA)?
Confusingly, the terms are often used interchangeably. But there is a difference.
Early Case Assessment
Early Case Assessment (ECA) is an evaluation process by which the party’s litigation strengths and weaknesses are evaluated prior to investing substantial resources in a litigation.
The result of an ECA process should be a monetary calculation of the what the litigation is worth to the parties involved.
Early Data Assessment
Early Data Assessment (EDA) should be one of the arrows in your quiver during an Early Case Assessment to establish the relative strength of the case.
The result of an Early Data Assessment project will be an initial review and identification of specific documents or other pieces of evidence establishing the strength or weakness of the litigation position.
In short, Early Data Assessment is an essential first step in doing an Early Case Assessment. Just ignore the “early,” call it Data Assessment, and it becomes easier to understand how these two processes work together. Assessing the data allows you to assess the strength of the case.
Early Data Assessment Components
Here are the components to look for in an effective EDA project.
★ Data Assessment: Reporting
Customized reports are needed to provide a holistic view of your data to track data volumes, find key custodians, and spot trends that will help you narrow in on only the information that you need.
Identify the custodians, view the flow of information, and capture the relevant files.
★ Data Assessment: Security
Through a secure litigation database portal, users should be able to log in and review the data in hand before beginning the review process.
Identify key custodians, key relationships, and narrow your search for potential smoking guns.
★ Data Assessment: Searching
Preliminary search terms can be run and the results analyzed to understand the data returned. Based on the initial results, search terms can easily and quickly be removed, expanded, stemmed and modified, so that subsequent data sets can be analyzed in the same manner.
This information can be tracked and logged, or exported as graphical reports.
★ Data Assessment: Collaboration
Once data is processed, you can collaborate around detailed analysis and results with your client. With the important pieces of data in hand, you can now undertake an Early Case Assessment with your client–establishing the monetary value of the matter in relationship to any ‘smoking guns’ (good or bad) that have been uncovered by the EDA process.
Early Data Assessment Benefits
By discovering key information early in a matter, you can refine your strategy and quickly move forward with your case. The information uncovered at this stage informs the rest of the litigation process, preparing you for meet and confers, the beginning of document review and development of themes to use during depositions and trial preparation.