SwayLaw Blog

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Best practices for producing spreadsheets during electronic discovery

Spreadsheets are ubiquitous, making them one of the most common document types encountered during electronic discovery. Yet despite this ubiquity, spreadsheets are often mishandled during discovery, leading to absurd results—like producing a 20,000 page TIFF representation of a spreadsheet!—that drive up discovery costs. Here are some thoughts on the how to effectively produce spreadsheets during litigation.

A critical insight is that many spreadsheets were never meant to be printed. (To put it differently, many spreadsheets were never meant to be rendered in a paginated format such as TIFF or PDF.) Even when printing in landscape-mode, spreadsheet columns often do not fit on a letter-size page, resulting in the columns spanning across several printed pages. This spanning essentially renders the spreadsheet unreadable. Even you to try to render the spreadsheet to a larger page size (like 11 inch by 17 inch), often the columns still will not fit. Furthermore, because they are often used as quasi-databases, many spreadsheets contain a lot of rows of data.

If one insists on trying to produce all spreadsheets in TIFF format (or some other paginated format, like PDF), the results can be disastrous. In the past, we have seen productions that contain spreadsheets that are tens of thousands of pages long! A few large spreadsheets can single-handedly double the page count of a production.

Furthermore, no matter what the size of the spreadsheet, converting a spreadsheet to TIFF or PDF obscures an integral component of the document: the formulas underlying the spreadsheet. These formulas may be important to the litigation.

We strongly recommend that litigants agree to produce spreadsheets in native form.

Ideally, spreadsheets whose paginated representation are at or below a certain number of pages—say, 100 pages—should be produced in both native and paginated (TIFF or PDF) format. By producing these more manageable spreadsheets in paginated form too, the litigants get the benefit of having bates-numbered pages for use in depositions and briefs.

For spreadsheets whose paginated representations are greater than 100 pages, the litigants should produce the native spreadsheet and a subset of the paginated representation (in the range of 1 to 100 pages). The pages of the paginated partial representation should be clearly marked with an indication that the representation is incomplete ("PARTIAL: FIRST 100 PAGES of 20,000 PAGES) and the load files should also contain information indicating which documents have partial paginated representations (PARTIAL=TRUE).

Monday, April 13, 2009

Searchketeers featured on The New York Times developer site

The New York Times has choosen to feature our Searchketeers application in its gallery of applications using their APIs. On Friday, the first day Searchketeers appeared in the gallery, Searchketeers was also displayed at the bottom the home page of The New York Times Developer Network (screenshot).

Note that, even though we specialize in software for law firms and their clients, Searchketeers has nothing to do with the legal world. We believe that working on software projects outside of the legal world greatly helps us in our efforts to develop innovative law-related software services. These projects allow us to experiment with new technologies and ideas that will eventually make their way into our core law-related services.

A Searchketeer is a specialized search engine that this tailored to a particular topic. Read more here and then try it out for yourself. Searchketeers is very much a work in progress; we would love to hear your feedback.


Friday, February 27, 2009

kite: lightweight electronic discovery

In tough economic times like these, law firms and their clients should be asking: Are the enormous sums of money currently spent on electronic discovery really worth it?

Very soon, we will be unveiling a "lightweight" electronic discovery solution called kite. By "lightweight," we mean affordable and easy-to-use. Currently, the field of electronic discovery is way too complicated. Vendors try to make features sound fancier than they really are and then they proceed to charge exorbitant prices for those features. kite is our attempt to simplify the field of electronic discovery. But do not confuse simplicity with lack-of-power. On the contrary, we believe that simplicity is power.

kite will be both a service and a platform. That is, software developers will be able to extend kite by using several application programmer interfaces (APIs) exposed by kite.

When the time comes, we will announce the debut of kite on this blog. If you would like to be contacted when kite becomes available, contact us.

Monday, February 9, 2009

the debut of TrialExhibitStickers.com

SwayLaw is excited to announce the debut of a new website for our trial exhibit stickering service: TrialExhibitStickers.com.

The TrialExhibitStickers.com site is new, but our trial exhibit stickering service is not. We've been offering the service since December 2006. In the little-over-two-years since the service debuted, our stickers have been used in trials across the country, from the United States District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego to the International Trade Commission in Washington, D.C..

Up until now, we have done absolutely no advertising for the service! All of our new clients have learned about the service through word-of-mouth from our existing clients. We value this word-of-mouth advertising above all else. To all of our clients: thank you so much taking the time to recommend our services to others.