Good Practical Stuff

The Value of a Production Log

It’s no secret that we love our checklists in ediscovery. And lists are great, but are you tracking all the elements of your process?  Last week we talked about tracking your ediscovery timeline — those events in the case that you don’t want to have to recreate each time you need to reference them. In addition to that timeline, you also want to create a production log to track all of the aspects of each production every party in the case makes.

Why?  Let’s see.

How many times have you had to find the answers to the following questions quickly?

  • When was a specific document produced (usually by bates no)?
  • What was the scope of a given production set?
  • When did we produce that social media? Those images? Those videos? Documents from a specific custodian?
  • How many documents has the other side produced? Before or after a certain date?
  • How many documents has your client produced?
  • What was included in that production?
  • Did we send that overlay of additional/modified metadata? What did it include?

And that’s a very shortened list of the types of questions a production log will answer for you at a quick glimpse. This isn’t rocket science, it’s simply keeping track of the information about productions in a case and it comes in handy over and over and over again. I guesstimate that our team revisits the tracking log we keep in a case several hundred times over the course of discovery and preparing for trial.

Just today, our team is in the throes of helping counsel prepare for trial, and needed to understand the scope of what had been produced on a specific topic and when for a pre-trial motion. One quick look at the log gave us the answers we needed.

A few minutes to log data after a production goes out or comes in is a lifesaver when you need to know how many documents were produced before a certain date for a brief in support of a motion. Those questions come up last minute, and there’s no time to recreate the log on the fly when the answers are needed.

A log can be as detailed as you want to make it, and it’s likely to vary a bit depending on your case. You can even tie elements of the production log to tracking productions or responses to specific RFPs to know whether you’ve met your obligations or received all the documents from an opposing party. Other uses can be to help evaluate incoming productions — what custodians are included, what types of documents produced, etc. Oftentimes multiple lawyers or legal support professionals do that analysis, but it doesn’t sit in one place for the whole team to use. A production log available to the whole team via a link lets everyone use the information created by the team members. You can use Google Sheets, Teams, or any collaborative spreadsheet software.

So what should you include on a log and how to maintain it?  This is simple spreadsheet with the following fields. You’ll also want to separate the parties by name, not by plaintiff/defendant/third parties. You’ll want to be able to reference a party’s productions individually.

  • Production Date
  • Production No.
  • Party (redundant but helpful as you scroll down the list to have it immediately next to the production details)
  • Bates Range
  • Page Count
  • Document Count
  • Parameters (generic field that describes what is in the production)
  • Decisions — what decisions were made going into this production?
  • Related RFPs

If you have an ongoing matter, have a team member pull together what you can for a log, and keep more detailed information on future productions. Or start your next case keeping better track of the data and decisions you are making on productions.

The biggest time and money suck in ediscovery is reinventing the wheel. A production log is one tool to help you stop doing that. It’s an efficiency tool. Show your clients you can get answers quickly because your team is on top of what’s happening in discovery all the time. It’s a win-win. And everyone loves that.

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