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By Chris Dahl, Esq.

Published on Fri, April 12, 2013

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Co-authored by Alex Shusterman

Changing ediscovery providers can seem like a daunting endeavor, particularly when in the midst of active litigation. Even after completing an extensive vetting process and selecting the vendor that will best meet your needs, there is still a significant amount of work involved in migrating your data so that the new provider can begin work. A little homework, advance planning, and an experienced provider can help you avoid some headaches and frustration by understanding the process, how complicated it will be, how much time it will take, and how much it will cost. This blog article outlines 3 simple steps will help make data migration a much more manageable undertaking.

Step 1: Choose a Capable Provider with Migration Experience.

It is important to realize that every processing and review tool is a little different and has its own idiosyncrasies.  The goal is that substantially all of the necessary data associated with a case is provided at the outset of the migration in a usable format.  This allows the new provider to effectively migrate the matter and to integrate their workflows with the migrated data. At Lighthouse, we have significant experience helping clients migrate data from various sources into our workflows.  We have a defined process by which we recommend a client request data from their prior provider in order to ensure a successful migration and to avoid any pitfalls.

Step 2: Clearly Specify your Goals.

Many data migration projects are comprehensive and include a full copy of a review database and all the supporting information so that review, processing and, production can be carried out by another service provider.  A successful migration is worth the work, but it is nonetheless a substantial undertaking for all parties involved.  To determine your needs, consider the following:

  • What current automated workflows are present in your database? Do they need to remain intact?
  • Do you expect to return to the source ESI to do additional culling and searching?  For example, are you expecting new data for native processing that needs to be deduplicated against the migrated data?
  • What are the pain points that you are trying to address with this migration?

Once you’ve considered these topics, set up a scoping call so your provider can help you determine the appropriate type and depth of migration required.  For instance, if it is determined during that scoping call that a client has no expectation or need to return to the source ESI, the time and complexity required to complete the migration can be greatly reduced.

Step 3: Ask for the Right Data, in the Right Format.

To keep cost down in performing a complex migration, you want to avoid your new provider having to perform manual work, so it is important that you ask for the right data in the right format. We recommend requesting the data from your provider in four different sets, outlined below – the original native ESI, the metadata and review work product, the redacted files, and production images (if applicable).

A)   The Original Native ESI - Having the original ESI will allow the new provider to perform additional tasks against the original ESI beyond the scope applied by the prior provider.  For example, expanded date ranges and revised search terms.  There are nuances here that require a certain level of sophistication to take into account, so be sure to discuss this on the scoping call with your new provider when determining the specific format of the original ESI.

B)   The Review Data-The key to a successful migration is bringing along all the valuable metadata extracted by the prior provider, as well as the work product applied to the documents by the prior provider and/or review attorneys.  Because most ediscovery tools can accommodate legacy Concordance outputs, a typical format might include (i) a standard Concordance load which consists of a fielded DAT/OPT with all metadata, coding decisions, and vendor decisions; and (ii) the native ESI, raw images, and text.

C)   Redacted Files-Redactions are expensive to draw, so pay special attention to them.  Although this is generally considered part of the review data, it is important to call redacted documents out separately, and pay special attention to redacted documents and sets of redacted documents.

D)   Production Images-Similar to the redacted files, it is necessary to ensure that Production data information is properly overlaid once the initial base review data has been loaded.

So what does all this cost? The answer is tricky.  If part of a larger project, exclusive agreement, or set of cases, the new provider may include or roll up pricing for data migration under a larger pricing model.  The new provider may instead charge hourly for the data migration tasks.  Regardless of what the new provider charges, we almost always see the prior provider charge for the time to migrate data away.  In some cases, the prior provider may also charge an inflated per gigabyte fee in an attempt to deter migration.  Thus, it is advantageous to specify migration pricing as hourly-only in engagement negotiations whenever possible.

Case migrations do not have to be the daunting and costly undertaking they sometimes turn into.  Using a sophisticated, experienced provider will ease you through the process efficiently and as cost effectively as possible, which will ultimately set your case up for success.

About the Author
Chris Dahl, Esq.

Vice President of Product Development and Consulting

As the Vice President of Product Development and Consulting, Chris is responsible for bringing together product management and engineering to create an end-to-end product development approach, delivering innovative, best-in-class products designed to meet our clients’ critical and emerging needs. Chris’s consulting team works directly with Lighthouse’s clients to implement these innovative products, as well as ediscovery best practices and technology behind the corporate firewall. Together the teams represent the innovation engine which drives many of the world-class solutions Lighthouse brings to its clients.

Chris has more than a decade of experience as a technical leader in ediscovery. From 2003 to 2010, he worked for the law firm of K&L Gates in its eDiscovery Analysis and Technology (e-DAT) Practice Group. As a Lead Analyst for e-DAT, Chris's primary responsibilities included developing solutions for complex technical workflows surrounding the collection, processing, and review of electronically stored information for hundreds of cases and investigations. During that time, Chris also served as Board Member of FTI Consulting's Attenex Technical Working Group and participated in product development with a number of other ediscovery software companies.

Since joining Lighthouse in 2011, Chris has led a number of the company’s organizations, spoke at thought leadership events, consulted with many fortune 50 corporations, on-boarded and invented new ediscovery technology, and participated in the development of enterprise ediscovery software in enterprise platforms such as Office 365.

Chris received his undergraduate degree from Whitman College and his law degree from Seattle University School of Law. During law school, Chris served as Judicial Extern to the Honorable James L. Robart, United States District Court Judge for the Western District of Washington.