A Look Back at Native Files in eDiscovery

Legal discovery review has come a long way in the last 15 years to find solutions around the growing volume of email and edocs. While we wait for the next generation of computer assisted review to fully arrive, let’s revisit human review of native files. Reviewing native files is more defensible and efficient during the review process, and reduces production costs as well.

Native files allow reviewers the opportunity to look at docs as they existed to the original custodian, including all the preserved metadata for searching. Batching the file types, such as spreadsheets, by a custodian or keyword will also speed review. Legal teams employing experts to review industry specific docs, think construction defect, can avoid the costs and delays of copying/printing and delivering hard copies by granting access to review databases housing the native files.

There are different types of native files. There are true native files, which are completely original and near native files, which are converted but still have metadata and are searchable. Near paper files are PDF or TIFF files that cannot be searched or indexed, and paper files that are files printed to paper. The best advice about producing files is to follow the “meet and confer” rule and figure out what information will be need to be produced during litigation. Doing this as early as possible makes the process run smother and be less stressful. It is always important to retain metadata and files even if you are unsure if it will be relevant.

Keeping files in their native form makes your case more defensible because they are more transparent and accurate. If a defendant cannot produce native documents, than a strong case is to be made about the superiority of native files. There are tools and resources available to keep native files in order and accurate. The human review of native files is still very prevalent in the eDiscovery industry and staying up to date and organized can save you a lot of hardship should litigation issues arise.