In your Litigation Preparedness Plan, you should specify the types of files used at your company. We have a spreadsheet with over 24,000 computer file types that exist today. New file types are added everyday; for example, when Windows 7 was released, new file types were added.
Don’t forget to document older file types and programs because litigation is historical and deals with legacy data.
Using my computer as an example, computer file types can be characterized in a few major groups:
- System File - These usually exist in the “Windows” folder. In most litigation cases, these files are not necessary, but in some cases, they may be critically important. This needs to be documented in the Litigation Response Plan.
- Program Files - These usually exist in the “Program Files” folder (e. g. Microsoft and Adobe products). In most litigation cases, these files are not necessary, but in some cases, they may be critically important. This needs to be documented in the Litigation Response Plan.
- Document Files – For example, Microsoft Word or Excel files. These are often important in litigation.
- Multimedia Files – For example, video, audio, and graphic files. These are often important in intellectual property cases.
- Emails – A common and important data type in litigation.
One costly mistake many companies make is to image an entire hard drive of a server, computer, or laptop, send it to a vendor and say, "process these files". That means identify all the files on the hard drive, load a database with information about the files and make the files and data searchable for litigation. This is often a waste of money if you include all system files and program files if they are not relevant to your case.
For example, on my laptop, if you had a typical vendor process those files in just my system folder and program files folder, most vendors would charge about $1,500. 00 for that, and in most cases, it's absolutely useless data and information. What you should do is focus on the file types relevant to the actual case.
This diagram shows common file types that exist in most corporations.
Of course, a .doc files is a Microsoft Word document; .ppt is a PowerPoint presentation, and an .mdb file is a Microsoft Access database. As I mentioned, there are over 24,000 file types.
If your case involves financial data, there's no reason to look at photographs, video files, and other multimedia files, which are often the largest files on your computer (and the most expensive for vendors to process). You might focus on Excel, Quicken, QuickBooks, and other corporate accounting database files.
The diagram below shows part of our spreadsheet of file types that lists only those file types related to financial issues in litigation.
Another example is intellectual property cases. We have identified in our database of 24,000 file types those file related to intellectual property cases such as video, audio, photo, image, and graphic files.
Your Litigation Response Plan should use this information in the checklists to identify, collect and review the file types depending on the type of case involved. By filtering out files and data types you will save a significant amount of money in collection and review costs!
Legal Technology Group
Phone: (503) 200-2936