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By Any Name, ECA Means eDiscovery Savings

by on January 11, 2011

What the letters mean in ECA can vary but the benefits the process can deliver to a legal team engaged in electronic discovery won’t.

Computer_gavel Whether ECA means Early Case Assessment or Early Cost Assessment or Early Content Analysis, its ability to reduce the amount of data that needs to be reviewed during e-discovery has one meaning to lawyers: savings in time and money.

ECA can be delivered as software on a server, a hosted service, or in a hardware appliance. No matter how it’s delivered, though, it can help attorneys make better decisions about data early in the discovery process. Those decisions can reduce the amount of data that needs to be reviewed while providing a legal rationale for what is and isn’t reviewed.

Here are some of the things ECA can do for a legal team.

  • Give attorneys a true picture of the data universe they’re exploring by exposing information buried in attachments and embedded objects
  • Weed out irrelevant documents by imposing basic restrictions on data, such as date filtering and ignoring duplicate data and non-data files
  • Index the content of files as well as other information, such as metadata
  • Make tagging files easier by summarizing indexed data
  • Allow the exporting of tagged documents to a platform where they can be reviewed

Moreover, ECA tools can identify terms, concepts and connections among documents. They can also find emails and the people related them, as well as organize data by dates, terms, phrases and metadata.
ECA also gives searchers a chance to test keywords on a data set. Not only does that allow them to test the quality of the words, but it lets them forecast the volume of data that will be produced by searching with a particular set of keywords.

“Even though ECA tools come at a price, with so many files today being embedded as attachments or ‘pasted’ within other documents, it may well be unreasonable to make early case decisions without leveraging ECA tools to analyze the data,” argues Michael Arnold, litigation technology manager at LeClairRyan in Richmond, Va. “ECA tools can strengthen a case and enable attorneys to be as knowledgeable as possible about the data involved, while significantly reducing effort, time, and most importantly, cost.”

What do you think? Are ECA tools worth the cost?

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