Every year, new chat apps gain popularity, huge volumes of data move into the cloud, foreign language documents unite business initiatives across multinational corporations, and discovery professionals have to learn how to process it all. The data explosion continues to grow, and it is now common for companies to generate information important to corporate investigations or litigation that is not easily searchable or hard to access in most ediscovery tools. Corporate attorneys and outside counsel face an ever-increasing list of potential relevant data sources, including dark data.
Dark data can refer to electronic information within an organization that is not easily searchable or accessible. This means that it is likely to be in an unstructured format, unclassified, and likely unmanaged by current information governance solutions.
Dark data file types can include:
- Audio or video files, including phone calls and meeting recordings
- Foreign language documents
- Microsoft Teams, Slack chats, iChat, GChat, etc., each with its own custom format and formatting
- Documents with low signal/noise ratios
- Cloud-hosted files from Dropbox, Box, GDrive, etc.
- Domain-specific or unorthodox formats like CAD files, medical imaging files, etc.
Dark Data And The Ethical Duty of Technological Competence
Under the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, lawyers’ duty of competence applies not only to legal skills, but also generally to those matters reasonably necessary for the representation. Increasingly, this means that lawyers are expected to understand the technologies they use, along with any associated risks. Lawyers must evolve along with technology, including learning how to locate, protect, and extract information from dark data sources, which is important for effective risk mitigation and technical proficiency in litigation. In a world where new technologies may contain material facts that may impact a lawyer’s clients, effective representation means making sense of those technologies.
Additionally, lawyers also have a duty to their clients to increase technological competence in order to ensure that the fees they charge clients are reasonable. The ABA’s Model Rule 1.5 states that a lawyer may not collect an unreasonable fee. Lawyers have an ethical obligation to work in a cost-effective manner, which means that the person performing the work should be using the right tools and technology. Increasing technological competence and leveraging the best solution for dark data is a way to continue serving clients with fairness. Everlaw can help lawyers meet their duty to collect reasonable fees by enabling legal teams to discover, reveal, and act on information to better drive internal investigations and positively impact litigation outcomes. Unlike slow, unwieldy, client-server software, only Everlaw combines the necessary speed, security, and ease-of-use to investigate issues more thoroughly, uncover truth more quickly, and present findings more clearly.
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