By: Ken Baldesi, Vice President, Client Services
A structured data agreement is a type of contract that formalizes the relationship between the parties involved in an eDiscovery process. It has three main purposes: to outline how data should be collected, processed, and preserved; it defines the time frames for disclosure and production as well as address any other issues related to eDiscovery. Finally, it defines each party’s responsibilities during this process. A properly drafted structured data agreement can help avoid disputes among all parties involved in a legal matter.
Structured Data and How it Works
In eDiscovery, structured data is a specific type of electronic information that you can easily identify and manipulate. It includes lists, tables, spreadsheets, databases, etc., which can organize or summarize data in a structure. You may already use some common types of structured data every day:
- Websites’ HTML code is structured data.
- Databases use a specific structure to store data.
- Spreadsheets organize data into rows and column
You can find structured data in many different formats. But it’s most commonly used in electronic discovery because it can be easily searched, sorted, and filtered.
Structured Data’s Importance in eDiscovery
Structured data is often considered the “gold standard” for eDiscovery because it can be easily searched, sorted, and filtered. This makes it an ideal format for producing evidence during a legal proceeding. When collected and processed properly, structured data can help reduce the time and cost of eDiscovery.
The information collected during the discovery process is usually very large. This can make it difficult to find what you’re looking for without any specific tools or technologies. This results in a high risk of missed deadlines, rejected requests due to lack of evidence, increased costs, and even sanctions. Structured data can help reduce these risks by making the process of uncovering relevant information much more efficient.
How Does a Structured Data Agreement Help?
A structured data agreement formalizes the relationship between all parties involved in an eDiscovery process. By outlining each party’s responsibilities and specifying how data should be collected, processed, and preserved, it can help avoid any disputes. It also helps legal teams understand the capabilities and limitations of each service provider.
A well-drafted agreement can also define specific time frames for disclosure and production, which can help avoid costly delays. Finally, it can outline any other issues related to eDiscovery that need to be addressed.
When Should I Use a Structured Data Agreement?
Structured data agreements should be used in any situation where electronic information needs to be collected, processed, and produced. This includes any legal process involving electronic information, such as eDiscovery or digital forensics.
When Shouldn’t I Use a Structured Data Agreement?
An agreement should never replace your company’s standard operating procedures (SOPs). Instead of creating an entirely new contract for each situation requiring the use of structured data, your SOPs should reference the agreement and outline how it should be used.
Additionally, an agreement is not necessary in all cases where electronic information needs to be collected and processed. If you’re only searching for a specific document or file type, then a standard search can usually be performed without any issues. However, if you’re not sure what you’re looking for or if the information is spread out across multiple formats, then a structured data agreement may be necessary.
How to Create a Structured Data Agreement for Your Business or Organization
You should tailor a structured data agreement to the specific needs of your business or organization. It should include:
- The types of structured data collected.
- The collection of data (i.e., which tools and technologies will be used).
- Processes for preserving and processing the data.
- Time frames for disclosure and production
- Any other issues related to eDiscovery.
Not sure where to start? A good place to begin is by consulting with an attorney who specializes in this area of law. Having a well-drafted structured data agreement can help ensure that your business or organization stays compliant with the latest legal requirements and avoids any costly disputes.
Structured data agreements are an important part of any eDiscovery process. If your business or organization needs to collect any electronic information during a legal proceeding, then it’s important that you have a structured data agreement in place before the process begins.
The professionals at Innovative Discovery can help your business figure out the complexities of structured data. Contact us today!