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One of the phrases I use often when describing our iDS Discovery Services Consulting (DSC) team, is that we are more like a sit-down restaurant than a fast-food drive-thru. For example, at a fast-food restaurant, you ask for what you want and that is generally what you get. 1) Place your order, 2) the drive-thru worker takes your order, 3) your order is passed to the kitchen, 4) the kitchen completes the order, 5) the order is then passed back to you – with little validation to confirm you’re receiving what you ordered.

In this scenario, it would be like a Discovery Services Consultant taking a client’s request and directing it straight to the Engineering team. But what happens when the Engineering team has a follow-up question to that request?  The “fast-food drive-thru” eDiscovery consultant does not have the ability to answer those concerns without going back to the client first. Nor do they have the experience to anticipate what other questions might arise. 

Truth is, nobody stops to think about the true goal of the client’s request, what other information is needed to fulfill the request, or whether the request can even be accomplished in the time frame requested. And since the client is the only one that can provide direction, chances are they will end up not getting what they wanted in the first place. See the problem here?

The situation is quite different when ordering at a sit-down restaurant. There, the staff are very knowledgeable about the offerings, can give recommendations based on preferences and pairings, and can anticipate questions and needs. The waiter at a sit-down restaurant is not just taking an order, but instead helping to guide the experience in order to meet expectations, offer options that the guest may not have been aware of and in the end, provide a better outcome.

Like the sit-down restaurant, the iDS Discovery Services Consulting team leverages our subject matter knowledge and truly analyzes each request to confirm the goal of the client, that all of the required information has been communicated, and that the requested time frame is doable. Until all the points above are considered and communicated to the client, the iDS Discovery Services Consulting team does not engage the iDS Engineering team. This approach saves a lot of time and reduces needless back and forth. In addition, the client is provided true expertise and consulting. 

See the below examples of how different the outcomes can be when working with eDiscovery vendors that follow more of the fast-food approach vs. the sit-down restaurant.

What is the goal of the client’s request?

Fast Food Approach:

A client emails the Consultant and asks to search a specific Custodian’s folder for all communications with a certain email address ( The Consultant takes that email and passes it on to the Engineering team with little additional detail. The Engineering team creates a search in the hosting platform limited to the custodian’s folder and searches the to/from/cc/bcc fields for the listed email address. The Consultant takes that saved search and sends it to the client and marks the request as complete. 

Sit-Down Restaurant Approach:

The eDiscovery Consultant instead analyzes the request and consults with the client. The Consultant determines that the goal of the client’s request is to find all communications between, and with, the specific custodian and the person who owns the listed email address. By doing a quick search in the hosting platform, the Consultant identifies the name of the person who owns the email address and in doing so, also notes the email alias for that email (Fila, Caitlin).  

With this information, the Consultant can request advanced searches to be created in the hosting platform that search the entire workspace for where 1) the to/from/bcc/cc fields contain either the email addresses of each recipient or the email aliases and 2) perform an index search for the email addresses and email aliases using the syntax of the hosting platform.

The eDiscovery Consultant’s approach expands the search to include ANY emails in the hosting platform workspace that contain communications between, and with, the two requested individuals. This is important as simply having global deduped data during processing could mean that there are responsive email communications to the search that reside in a different custodian’s folder which would not be returned in the Fast-Food Approach’s search.

Also, by expanding the search to include the index search, the Consultant can then identify instances where perhaps the custodian and the email address owner communicated in an email thread but not the most recent/top email, and therefore the one whose metadata was extracted, did not include both parties. Again, the Fast-Food Approach’s search could potentially be missing additional responsive documents.

What other information is needed to fulfill the request?

Fast Food Approach:

A client calls and requests an export of a set of documents. The eDiscovery Consultant says no problem, hangs up the phone, and asks the Engineering team to prepare the export. The Engineering resource asks if the client wants natives or PDFs. The Consultant emails the Client to ask. Client emails back saying they want PDFs. The Consultant updates the Engineering resource. The Engineering resource asks if the client wants color images or black and white. The Consultant emails the Client to ask. The Client responds. This can go on for multiple iterations as the Consultant does not have the insight into the requirements for the request to gather all the information up front from the Client and thus sends the Client numerous emails.

Sit-Down Restaurant Approach:

The Consultant not only has this insight but will look at the document population before replying to make recommendations to the Client about certain document types that should be exported as natives. This Consultant will also ask how the Client intends to use the documents and make a suggestion of stamping the documents with Control Numbers if they will be printed. This approach saves everyone time and ensures the Client is getting a deliverable that best fulfills their needs.

Can the request be accomplished in the requested time frame?

Fast Food Approach:

A client emails the Consultant that they are ready to make their first production and they want to send it to opposing counsel the next morning. The Consultant gathers the specifications for the production, fills out a quick order form, and passes that on to the Engineering team.

What the Consultant fails to consider is that one of the requirements from the client is that they want to have the Bates prefix reflect the Request for Production number that each document is responsive to. The Engineering team is now scrambling to set up the separate searches as this Bates naming convention will require each Request for Production to be a separate production. It is then raised that the same documents are marked responsive to multiple production requests. The Engineering team cannot move forward without knowing if the client is okay with documents produced multiple times or if there is a priority order to the production requests. This delay further adds to the time crunch and now the production(s) are going to be late.

Sit-Down Restaurant Approach:

Here, the Consultant requests a quick call with the client once the production request is received and fully reviewed. By getting on a call, the Consultant can discuss with the client the additional time the Bates naming request will take to complete and the impact on the requested deadline, discuss how to handle if documents are responsive to multiple requests, and suggest producing all the documents with a single Bates prefix naming convention and to include a new field in the load file that designates the request number. Depending on the Client’s answers, the eDiscovery Consultant will advise the Client what can and cannot be completed in the requested time frame. Therefore, there is no last-minute notice to the Client of missing a deadline and the end deliverable is not the result of rushed work.

What if you want Fast Food?

All of that said, sometimes you just want something fast. Any good sit-down restaurant can also provide a quick meal to go, especially with some advanced communication. Instead of driving to pick up fast food, you can call ahead to a sit-down restaurant and get curb side delivery! The iDS Discovery Services Consulting team is always willing to work with clients to execute requests in the shortest amount of time. The benefit of coming to a restaurant, instead of a fast-food drive-thru, is that even these straightforward requests are quickly analyzed for any questions/issues and the team in the kitchen is comprised of highly skilled, dedicated individuals who will work to complete the order.

What if you only have a budget for Fast Food?

IDS also offers different pricing models, one of which is our bundled services – including a flat rate, predictable cost for your project, and the ability to easily scale up if the project expands. By working with iDS on a processing and/or hosting matter, not only are you engaging the Discovery Services Consulting and Engineering teams, but you have our other teams on standby such as Digital Forensics and Structured Data & Analytics.

And most importantly…

A sit-down restaurant approach is more fun and engaging to work at! Since our eDiscovery consultants are not simple order takers but rather skilled experts, we thrive on the ability to identify the best path forward for our clients. I cannot count the number of times the different teams at iDS have put their heads together to craft a solution to a unique problem.

So, whichever experience you choose, make sure it’s the right one for you. That way, you can ensure you get what you want, and more importantly, what you expected.

iDiscovery Solutions is a strategic consulting, technology, and expert services firm – providing customized eDiscovery solutions from digital forensics to expert testimony for law firms and corporations across the United States and Europe.