eDiscovery Steps From Preservation to Production: eDiscovery Processing

Posted by Paulette Keheley | Fri, Oct 20, 2023

In today's digital age, the legal industry has had to adapt to new methods of preserving, collecting, and producing electronic evidence. This process, known as eDiscovery, plays a crucial role in legal proceedings. Understanding the ins and outs of eDiscovery processing is essential for legal professionals and anyone involved in litigation.

Let’s explore the key stages of eDiscovery, the challenges faced during the transition from preservation to production, and the technology solutions available to streamline this complex procedure while considering legal and ethical considerations.

What is the Legal eDiscovery Process?

The legal eDiscovery process steps encompass the identification, preservation, collection, processing, review, analysis, and production of electronically stored information (ESI). ESI can include emails, documents, databases, social media posts, and other digital artifacts.

It is important to note that the legal eDiscovery process is not a linear one. It often involves iterative cycles, where new information may lead to additional identification, preservation, collection, processing, review, analysis, and production efforts. This iterative nature ensures that all relevant information is captured and properly utilized in legal proceedings.

What Are the Guidelines for an eDiscovery Process?


What Are the Guidelines for an eDiscovery Process-Given the importance of eDiscovery, several guidelines exist to ensure the process is conducted efficiently and fairly. These guidelines include the proportionality principle, which ensures that the scope of eDiscovery is reasonable, and the cooperation principle, which encourages parties to work together to streamline the process.

The proportionality principle is a fundamental aspect of the eDiscovery process. This principle recognizes that the amount of electronically stored information (ESI) can be vast, and it is crucial to strike a balance between the need for relevant evidence and the cost and effort required to collect, review, and produce that evidence. By applying the proportionality principle, parties can avoid excessive and unnecessary eDiscovery requests, saving time, resources, and costs.

Another essential guideline is the cooperation principle. This principle encourages parties involved in the eDiscovery process to work together in a collaborative and transparent manner.

Cooperation among parties can significantly streamline the process by reducing disputes, promoting efficient data collection, and facilitating the exchange of relevant information. When parties cooperate, they can identify and agree upon the most effective methods for collecting, reviewing, and producing ESI, ensuring a smoother and more cost-effective eDiscovery process.

In addition to the proportionality and cooperation principles, there are other guidelines that contribute to an effective eDiscovery process. These include the preservation of data, the identification of key custodians and sources of ESI, the use of appropriate search and review methodologies, the protection of privileged and confidential information, and following proper ESI protocols. Each of these guidelines plays a crucial role in ensuring that eDiscovery is conducted in a fair, efficient, and legally compliant manner.

Influential Factors in the eDiscovery Process


Influential Factors in the eDiscovery ProcessSeveral factors influence the eDiscovery process, including the organization's size, structure, and industry. Each organization's unique data infrastructure and information management policies also play a significant role in shaping how to perform eDiscovery steps.

The larger the organization is, the more data and systems there will be to search. Effective use of eDiscovery software can quickly sort through the data of large organizations to collect, preserve, and process information.

Certain industries also have regulatory requirements to keep in mind while performing eDiscovery. For example, they may be required to maintain a certain level of encryption, which will take time to decrypt and could affect the timeline of your cases.

A company’s data infrastructure can also affect how you need to do eDiscovery. Different data platforms, like mobile phones and hard drives, will have different forensic techniques and chain of custody requirements to prove the data is intact to the court.

Key Stages of eDiscovery

We can divide the eDiscovery process into several key stages: preservation, collection, processing, review, and analysis, culminating in the production of relevant evidence. Let's explore each stage in detail.


Preservation is the first stage of the eDiscovery process and involves identifying and safeguarding potentially relevant ESI. Proper preservation ensures that data remains intact and unaltered. 

Preservation can involve issuing legal holds to custodians, which instruct them to preserve any potentially relevant information. It may also include making copies of data and storing them in secure locations to prevent accidental deletion or tampering.


Once an investigator has identified relevant data, it needs to be collected for further analysis. In this stage of the ESI process, data is gathered and transferred to a secure location for further processing and review.

Collection methods can vary depending on the data and the sources from which it is being collected. These can include targeted searches, forensic imaging, or the use of specialized software. It is important to use reliable and defensible collection methods to ensure the integrity of the data. 


Processing refers to the transformation of collected data into a usable format for review and analysis. This stage involves culling, filtering, de-duplicating, and indexing data to reduce its volume and increase efficiency. Processing can also involve extracting metadata, such as date and time stamps, file types, and author information, which can be valuable for later analysis and review.


Review is perhaps the most time-consuming stage of eDiscovery. It involves the careful examination of collected data to identify relevant information, privileged materials, and potentially favorable or harmful evidence. Review can involve manual analysis by attorneys or the use of eDiscovery technology such as predictive coding, early case assessment, or concept clustering, to expedite the process.


During the analysis stage, legal professionals leverage technology and expertise to uncover patterns, insights, and connections within the collected data. Advanced analytics techniques, such as data visualization or text mining, can uncover hidden connections or uncover important information that may have otherwise been missed.

From Preservation to Production


From Preservation to ProductionThe transition from preservation to production marks a significant milestone in the eDiscovery process. After completing the analysis stage, relevant and non-privileged data is prepared for production to opposing parties or regulatory bodies.

The Flow of eDiscovery

The eDiscovery workflow is a carefully orchestrated sequence of stages, each building upon the previous one. From the initial preservation of evidence to the final production before the court, efficient coordination and adherence to best practices are vital to success.

Challenges in the Transition

The transition from preservation to production can present several challenges. These may include managing large volumes of data, ensuring data privacy and security, coordinating with multiple parties, and adhering to court-imposed deadlines.

Technology Solutions

Fortunately, advancements in technology have paved the way for innovative solutions to simplify eDiscovery steps. From specialized eDiscovery softwares for data collection and processing to artificial intelligence-powered analytics, technology offers tools to manage and analyze ESI efficiently. 

Legal and Ethical Considerations

While technology brings efficiency and convenience to the eDiscovery process, legal and ethical considerations must not be overlooked. Data privacy, privileged information protection, and the ethical responsibilities of legal professionals are crucial factors to consider throughout the process.

In conclusion, from preservation to production, the eDiscovery process encompasses various stages that require careful management and adherence to guidelines. Understanding the intricacies of steps in the discovery process, the challenges faced during the transition, and the technology solutions available will empower legal professionals to navigate this complex procedure effectively while upholding legal and ethical responsibilities.