What IT and Legal need to know for better Electronic Data Discovery

Synopsis Part 1: What IT and Legal need to know to improve Electronic Data Discovery processes

Electronic Data Discovery Interview – John Ashley, EVP of Electronic Evidence in First Advantage’s Investigative and Litigation Support Services (NASDAQ:FADV) segment (Part 1 of 2)

Mr. Ashley is a former British Detective who has been investigating computer crime since 1989.  Specific case work includes illegal pornography, business accounting fraud, terrorism and murder.  More recently John has worked closely with many technologies, including all of the prominent email platforms.

By Joshua Konkle writing for dcig.com

Interviewers Note:  John has a great history of electronic data discovery and forensics, dating back to 1989 where he worked at Great Manchester Police Obscene Publications Unit as the first police officer in the UK to investigate computer pornography .  While there he investigated all other forms of technical crime involving computers, such as: hacking, cracking, virus writing, phreaking, mobile phone cloning and credit card duplication.  It was interesting to see he was involved in phone phreaking a term we don’t see much of anymore.

His CV is thirteen (13) pages of history related to forensics within the burgeoning technology industry.  Some notable company cases included Quantum (NYSE:QTM), JDS Uniphase (NASDAQ:JDSU), a unique case involving Back Orifice 2000, as well as Sumitomo Corporation $2.6 billion copper fraud.  It would take several blog entries just to talk about John, but he is a candid gentleman with a wealth of knowledge and great sense of humor.

Joshua Konkle: In your work with corporate legal counsel how do you help them synchronize their policies and their IT, what is the mood of legal counsel out there?

John Ashley: We generally get involved when litigation has commenced.  The first thing we look at are the corporate record retention policies.  Typically they are comprehensive, but corporate enforcement is limited and not good enough.  My experience is that companies are better off not having a policy, than to have a loosely enforced policy.  A good policy is only as good as the enforcement.  I stress enforcement of policies, which exposes disconnects between what legal wants and what technology can do.

Joshua Konkle: How do you educate the IT people on important legal concepts?

John Ashley: It is important that IT understands Federal Rule 30(b)(6). This rule is the corporate deposition process used to depose corporate witnesses, including the technical staff regarding corporate policy, enforcement and controls.  Understanding this and being prepared for it is the most critical aspect of litigation for an IT staff member.  The people being deposed are supposed to be able to answer questions about the corporate technical environment.  First Advantage does assist their clients’ IT people with 30(b)(6) preparedness.

Today’s products are focused on issues pre-litigation; collection, preservation, pre-processing and information management, whereas four years ago they were not.  Products have traditionally been designed to manage business information and litigation processes.  They did not offer auditing, tracking and legal hold capabilities that are now possible.

Joshua Konkle: How do you educate legal counsel on IT?

John Ashley: Most legal counsel tend not to have the time or the training to understand the technology.  Legal has needs related to litigation and only make requests, expecting IT to find the tools to address it.  However, take tapes for example, Legal will believe it’s very simple to retrieve ten custodians’ email over a period of six months.  With the data on the tapes there are multiple issues: 1) Indexing 2) tape format 3) backup software version 4) hardware platform that can complicate the retrieval.  We need legal to understand storage like they understand paper, post-it notes, written signatures, etc.

Part 2 of dcig.com interview with Mr. John Ashley will appear later this month as “Litigation readiness using proactive intelligent collection and preservation

If you would like to communicate with him directly, he can be reached at First Advantage Sterling, VA offices, 703 230 3000.

DCIG, Inc publishes weekly interviews with legal professionals; click here for more eDiscovery interviews or sign up for the feed.


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