Preserving emails has become increasingly important to organizations of all sizes and industries. Since 2006, the U.S. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure added electronic records to the list of “documents” required as digital evidence for discovery in litigation. This move is logical, considering that according to recent statistics, over 90% of documentation is digital, and most organizations are going paperless.
What is eDiscovery?
E-discovery, also called electronic discovery or email discovery, is software that greatly simplifies the collection, sorting, and sharing of digital communications and data. While its primary use is to prepare for legal discovery, some other common use cases for e-discovery are:
- Internal auditing and performance analysis
- Internal and external collaboration
- Project archiving
- Communication logging
An example of electronic discovery software is cloudHQ’s email parsing and discovery software, available as a Chrome extension or an add-on to Google Sheets. Why should you use e-discovery, how easy are the steps, and what are its benefits?
Why use eDiscovery?
A recent report by Market Watch stated that 70% of discovery costs relate to the physical review of documents. Manually sorting through emails and collecting them can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. Added to that, email apps, such as Gmail, have limited search functions, and even if you find the emails you’re looking for, you’ll still need to compile them. Spreadsheets are much easier to use for this function, and Google Sheets can be shared and edited during collaboration.
E-discovery software performs all these functions: searching, sorting, compiling, and importing emails and other data to a spreadsheet. How does it work?
How to Use E-Discovery
Email discovery software by cloudHQ is simple to use, requiring just a few steps to get started. Here’s a step-by-step explainer video if you need it.
- Identify: Create a Gmail label.
In your Gmail app, click the plus sign next to the heading “Labels” in the side menu. Create a label for discovery and add any emails relevant to the label. You can add all emails and edit them later in the spreadsheet, or you can perform multiple searches to isolate emails and label them to be extracted.
- Preservation & Collection: Export to Google Sheets.
At this point, you’ll need to install the electronic discovery software. You can either go to the Chrome Store to install it as an extension to your browser or go to cloudHQ to install it as an add-on to Google Sheets. A new icon will be added to your Google products, and clicking it will open an easy-to-follow wizard for extracting the labeled messages to Google Sheets. Multiple spreadsheet formats are supported.
- Processing, Review, and Analysis.
cloudHQ will send you an email when your spreadsheet is ready, but you can always check on its status in the dashboard. Opening it in Google sheets allows for easy editing and collaboration. The spreadsheet will organize the emails by thread ID and include links to the actual email messages and attachments. At this point, email extraction is ongoing, so any email you add to the label will automatically be populated into the spreadsheet, and any emails you remove from the spreadsheet will be ignored.
- Production and Presentation: Convert to PDF.
Once collaboration and editing are completed, the spreadsheet can be exported as a PDF package that displays the emails in an easy-to-read format. Simply copy the Google Sheets link, go to cloudHQ.net/sheets-to-pdf, paste the link, and click “Next Step.” Follow the instructions in the wizard to set up and create your PDF package for use in discovery.
Even if you’re not ready to begin creating an e-discovery package, there are basic best practices that will make it easier to do so should the need arise in the future. Email labeling and sorting are of primary importance. Creating labels allows you to tag emails as belonging to a specific category, and managing incoming emails with rules can automate this feature to a large degree.
Benefits of Using eDiscovery
The benefits of using e-discovery software are many, ranging from increased productivity and cost-efficiency to compliance and legal protection.
- Increased productivity. Email discovery software automates email sorting and parsing. When preparing for possible litigation, e-discovery helps to avoid the time-consuming sorting and compiling of data and communication documents.
- Cost-savings. Manual data analysis can be one of the more costly processes in business. And in harmony with the adage that time is money, time saved means money saved. E-discovery software automatically performs these tasks in the background while you and your team members focus on other critical business processes.
- Data analysis. Besides its benefits for legal discovery, email discovery software can be used to extract and analyze data from your organization’s communications. Email spreadsheets can become a database for quality assurance, customer service monitoring, and HR operations.
- Regulatory compliance. Federal and state regulations may require email data to be retained for up to 7 years or even longer. Archiving communications data in an organized manner is possible through email discovery software.
- Legal protection. To stay ahead of the game, organizations sometimes need to prepare for possible future lawsuits and litigation. As recent high-profile court cases demonstrate, email communications can be the weakest link of a case. Leveraging e-discovery software can help organizations prepare their legal representatives for any upcoming scenarios.
No matter your current need, cloudHQ can provide the electronic discovery tools your organization needs to reap these benefits and more. Explore the power of e-discovery today.