Microsoft and Google are busy re-inventing how knowledge workers collaborate. Many of us have stumbled onto complex sets of interdependent Excel workbooks being shared by accounting, sales and other teams. With good chain-of-custody procedures, I have reconfigured environments so that counsel or experts could manually review these ‘semi-structured’ file sets to extract potentially relevant snapshots. The breadth of sources simultaneously touched by Teams and Workspace make those expensive exercises look like child’s play. Civil litigation evidence is generally all about backtracking from outcomes to decisions and the context that they were made in. We used to draw a bright line between structured financial databases and unstructured ESI like email, office files, text messages and calendar items. Teams and Workspace have blurred those the boundaries between structured and unstructured ESI. Are you and your eDiscovery platform ready to recreate the multi-dimensional context surrounding custodians?

Pandemic driven M365 Teams and Google Workspace adoption has outpaced the policies and technical capabilities of most legal and compliance teams. I have covered some of the preservation/collection gaps with Teams meeting transcripts and other connected sources. Teams PowerApps users to intermingle structured data from SalesForce, Asana, Power Bi and hundreds of approved apps with meetings, chats, emails and more. Google Smart Canvas raises that bar with smart chips, checklists and AI recommendations on the fly. All of this has impact on your preservation, collection and review workflows. None of this changes discovery fundamentals and goals; identify, preserve, review and produce.

The sheer complexity and diversity of modern knowledge worker systems, environments and ESI leads me to propose that the marketing phrase “best practice” is an oxymoron. How can you have a ‘best’ when every custodian or team may be using completely different working styles and system features? Why call it practice when we are constantly reinventing protocols and technologies in the wake of cloud innovation? Instead, I assert that we should be promoting better principals and expertise that measure quality and learn from every matter. The eDiscovery profession needs to be ‘lean and agile’ to keep up with our rapidly evolving ESI. Do you collect and report matter metrics and outcomes for lessons-learned reviews? Have you recently updated your data maps, custodial questionnaires and usage policies since the pandemic started? There has to be a better way.

Greg Buckles wants your feedback, questions or project inquiries at Contact him directly for a free 15 minute ‘Good Karma’ call. He solves problems and creates eDiscovery solutions for enterprise and law firm clients.

Greg’s blog perspectives are personal opinions and should not be interpreted as a professional judgment or advice. Greg is no longer a journalist and all perspectives are based on best public information. Blog content is neither approved nor reviewed by any providers prior to being published. Do you want to share your own perspective? Greg is looking for practical, professional informative perspectives free of marketing fluff, hidden agendas or personal/product bias. Outside blogs will clearly indicate the author, company and any relevant affiliations. 


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