Overview of Microsoft Office eDiscovery with Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync 2013.

eDiscovery is a critical topic for most organizations. Here is an overview of how Microsoft's eDiscovery capabilities can help.

First, some sobering statistics.

  • 90% - U.S. Corporations are currently engaged in litigation
  • 147 - average number of active lawsuits for companies larger than $1 billion
  • $1 million - average per case cost of eDiscovery

Wow, it’s easy to see why so many organizations are concerned about eDiscovery. If you aren’t already concerned, well in the words of my mentor: “You will be. You… will… be.” – Yoda, eDiscovery Manager and Jedi Master.

Let’s take a look at the average Microsoft case last year.

  • 1.3TB, 45 Custodians preserved
  • 290GB, 13 Custodians searched
  • 16.8GB Reviewed
  • 4GB Produced

290GB is the equivalent of 6,000 packed four drawer filing cabinets. I can’t even fit 50 of those in my mansion of an office. I speak from experience. Oh minions, decorating my office while I was on vacation? You shouldn’t have.

Microsoft uses keyword search to go from thousands of filing cabinets to a few hundred cabinets worth. Not only do you need to preserve tons of data for every case, but with legal review costs ranging from $10,000 per $40,000 per gigabyte there is a strong incentive to minimize the data you send to review and production. That is hard, and expensive. You pretty much need to be a Jedi Knight if not a Jedi Master. Luckily you got the Emperor here to help you. The good Emperor, not that other evil one. His empire didn’t have good eDiscovery practices or records retention policies, I heard that led to the explosion of his death star and the eventual fall of that empire.

On the Office SharePoint blog I posted the Intro to eDiscovery in SharePoint, Exchange, and Lync 2013 so check that out before continuing. Also I recommend the following videos:

eDiscovery Process

EDRM has a great model of the eDiscovery process called the Electronic Discovery Reference Model. It was recently updated to put more focus on information governance. On a side note, I am a member of the EDRM XML committee and we are working on version 2.0 of the standard that supports data interchange between eDiscovery products.

You can simplify the eDiscovery process into four steps.

  1. Identify and preserve – identifying content and preserving it by collecting it or using in-place preservation in products that support it such as Exchange and SharePoint.
  2. Search and process – searching the content to reduce it using keywords and then processing it with technologies such as de-duplication and thread compression.
  3. Review – reading all of the items and marking them relevant or not relevant. Organizations may use in house, external counsel or contract attorneys.
  4. Produce – the documents are converted into a format that they can handed off to the opposition and presented in court as evidence.

eDiscovery Challenges

Over the years as I have talked to people about the eDiscovery challenges they face, there were three problems that always came up.

  1. Preservation – preserving data is just plain difficult, expensive, and time consuming.
  2. Search and reduction – with immense costs for legal review and ever growing amounts of data, people are always trying to figure out how to find the right set of data in an ocean of files.
  3. Export – getting data out of systems such as Exchange and SharePoint has been difficult.

The Solution

eDiscovery capabilities in Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync 2013 were greatly improved.

There are three new capabilities to be aware of:

  1. In-Place Hold – now you can preserve sites and mailboxes using search filters. Preservation works behind the scenes, people can work on their documents and delete email and not even know it is turned on, but for eDiscovery you have the data you need in an immutable store.
  2. Query – an eDiscovery focused search experience helps you reduce data and find what you are looking for.
  3. Export – a few clicks and you can download all of the data you found directly to your local machine with an offline copy of native documents, email PSTs, archived MHT web pages, and CSV files for SharePoint lists.

Because these features are built in you get three big advantages.

  1. In-place – preservation and search are built in so you don’t need to set up any additional servers or purchase extra products, you just say you want to preserve data in a site or mailbox and it happens.
  2. Real time - you can search any data, any time. The search index is always up to date as new items get created.
  3. Simple – one place to preserve, search, and export from.

In 2010 there were some basic capabilities, but you couldn’t call it a solution. Now you can preserve, search, and export data across mailboxes and sites in your organization. You do still need additional tools, particularly for legal review, but for any organization using Exchange and SharePoint these new features make eDiscovery much easier.

Key Takeaway

All of this adds up to eDiscovery simplification so you can save time and money and reduce your risk. So you don’t need to actually be a jedi anymore, but your boss might still think you are. For more detail including step by step screenshots of preservation, search queries, and export, please check out this deck: Overview of eDiscovery in SharePoint, Exchange, Lync, and Office 365. Also see the eDiscovery FAQ on TechNet.


Thanks for stopping by and may the search be with you,

Quentin Christensen, Program Manager

Comments (3)
  1. Anonymous says:

    There are lots of great resources out there, so here is a link fest so you too can become an enlightened eDiscovery expert, and no you don’t need to be an IT everything expert.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Exchange and SharePoint 2013 use keyword query language search syntax. A query can include words, quoted phrases, and terms that use combinations of keywords and properties and also supports Boolean logic. Read on to learn more about using keyword search

  3. Anonymous says:

    Learn about the search properties and operators you can use to create eDiscovery queries with Exchange and SharePoint.

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