Third-Party Subpoenas

Why HaystackID ?

Receiving a subpoena from a governmental agency as a third party is an unfortunate fact of life for many organizations. In typical agency form, they are painfully broad and leave little room for negotiation. For even well-organized businesses, they represent an unexpected and unplanned cost bomb of sorts, as the respondent must gather the requested data and sweep it for privileged material prior to submission.

The general approach among respondents is to respond as thoroughly as possible, and at the same time spending as little time and money on review. For electronically stored information (“ESI”), this typically means conducting key term searches and data filtering for email domains known to be associated with counsel.

Background

Our client, a leading Small Business Administration loan originator, received an agency subpoena that sought “any and all” documents pertaining to a large number of custodians and clients. HaystackID was retained by their outside counsel, and was immediately met with the very real financial constraints the company faced in responding to the subpoena. The list of locations and people to be examined was long, and involved several individuals whose data existed outside their corporate control, including board members.

Challenges

Faced with a limited budget, a potentially large volume of data, and little time to respond, the client asked HaystackID what it could do. Outside counsel, which was leading the review, advised early on of their lack of a plan to conduct a substantive review due to the same cost constraints. However, with several hundred GBs of data to examine, they recognized that they could not simply rely upon basic searches and domain sweeps – they would need to be able to cull the data quickly.

So, the outside counsel and its client were working off relatively substantial cost and time constraints, all the while not even knowing the scope of the project, specific objectives therein, or other key pieces of information that are necessary when receiving a subpoena.

Solution

As in all of its collection projects, HaystackID started by creating a data map of the client’s environment, identifying known areas of data to retrieve and conducting custodial interviews to determine what data may exist beyond the corporate systems.

HaystackID then deployed its examiner team to shadow the client IT Director as he created forensic images of the target data stores. By shadowing this effort, the firm limited collection costs while still retaining the ability to not only direct the work, but also defensibly stand behind it if any methodology was challenged. Several hundred GBs later, HaystackID had a full collection of the data that would be reviewed for privilege prior to production to the requesting agency.

Due to the aforementioned cost constraints, HaystackID recommended that they leverage its proprietary analytics-enabled ECA platform, DATATHRESHER. This tool, built off the Relativity backbone by HaystackID developers, provides powerful and early insight into data within the familiar Relativity environment.

With powerful analytics onboard, it relieves reviewers of linear, doc-by-doc, hit-by-hit review and allows them to zero in on the most impactful documents earlier in the review than ever before. Traditional keyword searches found tranches of data that were clearly privileged, but it was only through the DATATHRESHER solution that it became clear that additional privileged material had not hit on the keywords.

By conceptually drilling into some examples of these documents, HaystackID’s project management team was able to identify these outliers and add them into the privileged set.

The Outcome

Of the more than 600 GBs of data collected, HaystackID ’s culling and analysis during the initial ingestion phase of the eDiscovery workflow reduced the volume significantly, and successfully identified all known and suspected privileged documents. Additionally, the client was able to generate its privileged log directly from the DATATHRESHER workspace with just a few mouse clicks.

Because HaystackID deployed technology that aggressively reduced volume at the point of ingestion, keeping processing prices low, the client’s budget was insulated and the production delivered to the agency on time and on budget.

This case highlighted HaystackID’s technology and commitment to containing client spend. Third-party subpoenas are never easy for a corporate recipient or its counsel.

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