The Innovation of Litigation.

Early Data Assessment: a Critical Step in Early Case Assessment

Many are familiar with Early Case Assessment (ECA), which is a systematic approach to evaluating the merits of a case. But what is Early Data Assessment? With the volume of data that is being generated by the internet of things, we know that data is critical to the e-discovery process, and with the costs associated with e-discovery, having a solid plan for dealing with the data is fundamental to managing litigation.

What Is EDA?

Early Data Assessment (EDA) is the process by which lawyers to sift through vast quantities of data to determine what is most relevant for their case. New technology, of course, has emerged to meet this need, and the process is both more necessary and more efficient than ever. Although EDA often appears as a synonym for ECA, it’s actually more of a subset of the larger ECA process limited to discovery activities. Despite its narrower scope, EDA represents a critical step in examining any case.

EDA involves deciding which data is relevant to a legal matter. It has evolved as a response to the recent explosion of electronic evidence, like the data collected within the “internet of things” (the network of motion trackers, voice recorders, and other computing devices included in everyday items like Fitbits and iPhones). Simply put, EDA helps lawyers decide how much information they actually have to look at.

The EDA Processs

Above the Law’s article on EDA lists five steps to the process: “(1) figure out what the question to be answered is, (2) gather relevant data, (3) clean and structure that data, (4) run analysis and test hypotheses, (5) make a decision.” Sounds simple enough, but just like ECA, EDA can be a very daunting and involved experience, but recent technology can assist attorneys in their EDA journey.

Trendy EDA Tech

Recent technology has streamlined the EDA process, and you don’t have to be a tech whiz to use it. Computer algorithms and online systems, like LexisNexis’ EDA tool, can dramatically cut down on the amount of time invested by attorneys in data analysis by quickly scanning large amounts of data for the most relevant content.

Some technologies propose to go even further. Forbes’ EDA article notes that LexisNexis and Westlaw operate more like search engines; they provide relevant data, but don’t always offer insight into how the data could be used. Ravel Law, on the other hand, claims to help not only with analyzing the case itself, but also with researching judges, venues, and case law, and provides detailed readouts which neatly summarize the pertinent data. Although Ravel is overall an ECA tool, its EDA functions appear to be more precise and informative.

As EDA becomes increasingly necessary in response to the internet of things and other electronic evidence, more advanced tools will likely develop to keep the process manageable for attorneys.

EDA has obvious benefits for attorneys and clients alike. It can lower costs and facilitate a more realistic evaluation of a case’s profitability and the trends which may influence the outcome. EDA can even help prove intellectual property violations! EDA also has tremendous predictive value, which may help level the playing field for small firms by allowing them to analyze a case’s chances much earlier in the process.

Are you using any cutting edge tools or processes for EDA? We’d love to hear about it!

About Trial by Tech

Trial by Tech is a blog brought to you by Baylor Law’s Executive LL.M. in Litigation Management—the first program in the nation designed exclusively for lawyers who aspire to direct effective litigation strategy, control electronic discovery, leverage technology, manage a team, and lead their company’s or firm’s efforts to manage a high-volume, high-stakes docket.

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