Last year, there were 376,762 cases that made it to the U.S. district courts. This number only pertains to civil and criminal cases. Think about all the evidence that needed collecting before these cases to make it to court.
Discovery is the process of obtaining evidence, and it has always been a part of the legal system. However, due to technology, the kinds of information that qualify as evidence have expanded over time. Now, not only discovery exists, but e discovery too.
What is e discovery? Keep reading to learn how this process has changed how the legal system functions.
Explaining the Discovery Process
Before computers were as accessible as they are now, attorneys only collected physical evidence. These documents pertain to medical records, interrogation recordings, bank records, domestic violence orders of protection, etc.
For one party to use this evidence in the court of law, they have to ask the opposing party for these documents. This way, the opposing party is aware of what evidence will be used in the trial, should the case get that far.
Usually, physical evidence sat in large boxes. They took up lots of space and took quite some time to sift through.
However, that was where the complication of acquiring physical evidence ended. The e-discovery process comes with its own complications.
What Is E Discovery?
The term electronic discovery helps differentiate between physical evidence and electronic evidence. Electronic evidence is also known as electronically stored information (ESIs).
This type of evidence includes, but is not limited to, emails, text messages, pdfs, and social media posts. Now that phones track your every move, they also qualify as a form of evidence.
Furthermore, tech companies have continued making rapid advancements. Consequently, there will likely be new forms of ESIs in the future.
The structure of the e-discovery process is similar to the discovery process in that each party has the opportunity to ask for and challenge the opposing party’s evidence. Because ESIs are a new form of evidence, law schools recently began teaching courses on e-discovery this past decade. Therefore, it has been a challenge for law firms to adapt to the changing discovery process.
What sets e-discovery apart from discovery is that the electronic evidence needs formatting before it goes to court. At first, firms didn’t know whether it was better to review an electronic source by printing it out or using a software program. Luckily, these programs have simplified e-discovery by making it easier to track down information and organize it.
Now there are even specialists that will help attornies navigate the process, including e discovery support that hires professional translators to analyze foreign language data. This service speeds up the e-discovery process in international litigation while maintaining high levels of accuracy and security.
Keep Expanding Your E Discovery Knowledge
Hopefully, you are no longer asking yourself: what is e discovery? Perhaps now that you understand its basics, you want to dive deeper into this world.
The good news is that there is so much information out there on this topic. Read about how the pandemic has and will continue to influence the e-discovery process and how law firms will adapt to this change.