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The Army Electronic Discovery Program Turns One

 

 

 
 
   
   
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(Credit: istockphoto.com/courtneyk)

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On 2 October 2018, the Judge Advocate General’s Corps stood up the Army eDiscovery Program at Fort Belvoir, Virginia (housed within the U.S. Army Legal Services Agency (USALSA) as the eDiscovery Division). One year later, the program has made significant progress in its goal to become a fully robust program that can meet the eDiscovery needs of the Army.

The eDiscovery Team (Team) helps attorneys understand the highly technical eDiscovery issues in their cases so that they can engage opposing counsel, effectively conduct, meet, and confer sessions, and meet their eDiscovery obligations in general. The Team has created workflows to enable practitioners to more efficiently process their cases across the entire continuum of the eDiscovery process—known as the eDiscovery Reference Model (EDRM). In addition, the Team can now process electronic information into a review platform software system, enabling attorneys to more efficiently conduct privilege reviews and use the information to build their cases—a considerable time and cost savings.

The Team has developed a web page that can be accessed on JAGCNet at https://www.jagcnet2.army.mil/Sites/eDiscovery.nsf/home.xsp. This website has many useful references, including our new eDiscovery Manual, with an extensive array of standard operating procedures that will guide attorneys and paralegals as they use eDiscovery Program resources. It also contains a full range of forms and documents, such as legal hold templates, custodian interview sheets, and processes for decrypting emails, which can greatly assist the practitioner in fulfilling eDiscovery obligations. In addition, there is a growing database of tip sheets that will explain topics such as how to deal with zipped files, how to redact using Adobe Acrobat, and other similar issues.

Training is one of the main focuses of the Team’s efforts. In August 2019, the Team held a three-day training conference for paralegals, focusing on their critical roles in this process. Building upon that training, the Team has begun conducting monthly training for attorneys and paralegals on such topics as basic eDiscovery concepts (eDiscovery 101), legal holds, and the use of the review platform software.

The eDiscovery Program aspires to even higher goals as it matures. Our most exciting initiative is the development of a comprehensive JAG Corps app that will track cases through the EDRM. This app should ultimately be able to issue and track legal holds, monitor cases from beginning to end, and provide a systemized, legally defensible tracking system. Also, the Team has begun examining new technologies, such as computer-assisted review and search analytics, and is looking to procure a more robust review platform capability to potentially replace the software system we are using now.

We’re only getting started. While the focus to date has been to support the USALSA litigating divisions that practice before forums using the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, we look to expand to all areas of the JAG Corps practice. We are very excited about the future and want you to be a part of it. Whether you have an idea for a tip sheet or a new form, need help with opposing counsel, or anything related to this area, let us know what you need in eDiscovery services. For questions, suggestions, or requests for assistance, contact the Program Director, Ms. Allison Polchek, at allison.a.polchek.civ@mail.mil. TAL