Why Are Law Firms Increasingly Using Audio and Video E-discovery?

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The effectiveness of any legal process depends partly on the involved parties and their lawyers having meaningful communication. In today’s digital era, audio or video e-discovery is essential to such engagement. Each side can later use legal transcription services better to organize the recorded evidence for future reference and collaboration. 

What Is E-discovery?

Electronic discovery is when parties in a legal dispute obtain and exchange information through electronic media. The lawyer-led process involves sharing case facts or evidence via digital formats like email, text documents (PDFs or docs), and real-time messaging. Law firms are also increasingly adopting audio and video e-discovery to streamline litigation.

Role of Audio and Video E-discovery in the Legal Industry

Audio and video e-discovery is an efficient way for law firms to obtain and exchange case evidence. The process begins with recording fact-finding interviews or investigations, whether in-person or via a virtual meeting. Through video transcription or audio transcription services, lawyers can generate a digital transcript of the recording, which they may preserve digitally or otherwise for future reference in or out of court.

Importance of Audio and Video E-discovery in Law Firms

Many law firms have adopted virtual conferencing platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams for hosting legal proceedings, such as depositions. These online meetings continue to generate massive chunks of discoverable evidence, making audio or video e-discovery a realistic option for lawyers when preparing a case. 

Recorded telephone conversations, security cameras, police body cameras, and even dash cams are other familiar sources of e-discoverable video or audio evidence.

Law firms can benefit in the following ways by leveraging audio or video e-discovery:

  1. Improved E-discovery Efficiency with Large Volumes of Electronic Data

Electronic discovery allows lawyers to make the most of evidence in large amounts of structured and unstructured digital formats, such as video or audio. It will enable them to quickly extract, share, and manage case information from digital sources, including recorded phone calls and surveillance video.

  1. Video and Audio Transcription Capabilities

Generally, e-discovery comes with audio or video transcription options. Law firms can transcribe unstructured recordings into quick-reference transcripts using automation or manual means. It simplifies the legal discovery workflow for all parties.

  1. Aids in Decision-Making in a Case

Lawyers need all the information they can find to make the right strategic decisions and win a legal dispute. Video or audio e-discovery enables them to be thorough with case investigations. The additional insights they obtain this way can make or break a case.

  1. Helps with Discovery Compliance

Video e-discovery tools allow law firms to turn unstructured information into searchable evidence. This efficient file organization makes accessing, reviewing, and sharing relevant case facts in the required formats easy. This way, lawyers can avoid punishable discovery mistakes.

Pros and Cons of E-discovery from Law Firms’ Perspective

Law firms began using e-discovery tools nearly two decades ago, and they keep improving with each passing year. According to attorneys Matt Anderson and Jay Yelton, the electronic fact-finding process offers numerous perks, including:

  • E-discovery makes it easier to search and find relevant information before trial than manual files.
  • Law firms can simplify record management with a retention policy that dictates how long to keep and when to delete/archive electronic evidence, such as emails.
  • With efficient document organization and search, e-discovery can reduce costs for the client.

Both lawyers highlighted common issues that law firms face with e-discovery, such as:

  • As e-discovery databases keep swelling with electronically stored information (ESI), there’s more information for lawyers to search
  • Extracting, analyzing, and storing vast amounts of discovery data from different, disparate sources can be costly (clients often require convincing to approve the budget)
  • Law firms must budget for e-discovery staffing or allocating (such as training paralegal staff, buying e-discovery software, etc.)
  • Lawyers have to keep up with changing state and federal proportionality rules regarding e-discovery budgets

Challenges That Come with E-discovery

There’s no doubt that E-discovery technology is still developing and hasn’t reached its full potential. When using it, law firms may encounter any of the following challenges:

  1. Data Redundancy Can Inhibit Search/Retrieval Efficiency

The same electronic messages shared across different platforms may sometimes have minor variations in their digital footprints. De-duplication of information by comparing its unique ID metadata can fail in such cases.

  1. Massive Data Volumes

E-discovery lawyers are increasingly dealing with big data, analysis of which can increase discovery costs and time. It can be a significant problem for lawyers with strict court-ordered deadlines to beat.

  1. Multiple File Formats

E-discovery requires organizing all data into a single usable format. This task is tricky when handling structured evidence (documents and spreadsheets) and unstructured formats like audio and video.

  1. Disparate Data Sources

Extracting and organizing data from disparate sources like online, social media, and mobile is often time-consuming.

  1. Data Security Issues

Electronic discovery usually involves sensitive files, and sharing the data electronically introduces the risk of loss and privacy breaches. Accidental disclosure of sensitive case files can impact the outcome of legal proceedings.

  1. Financial Concerns

E-discovery can be expensive. Things that usually drive costs include assembling a competent e-discovery team in-house and buying the necessary hardware and software.

  1. No Standardized Data Formats for E-discovery

Format requirements for digital evidence can vary by jurisdiction. The lack of standardization may slow discovery and litigation as cases move from local courts to federal jurisdictions.

Key Takeaway

Audio or video e-discovery allows law firms to efficiently retrieve, organize, and analyze the facts of a case in a digital format. The pretrial process can help expedite litigation with enormous benefits for all parties. However, e-discovery can be pretty expensive and inefficient for attorneys that don’t have all their electronic evidence organized in a uniform, usable format. Consider using video transcription to quickly convert recorded information into a transcript to beat this problem. 

In-house e-discovery personnel can drive up payroll and training costs. However, you can reduce your budget by outsourcing additional work to a professional transcription services company. With human transcribers, you will receive an accurate transcript in a ready-to-use format that is compatible with your ESI.