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Why Native Review Tools are Essential for Your Discovery Review of Excel Files
Yes, despite the straightforward and user-friendly nature of Microsoft’s spreadsheet darling, it just doesn’t lend itself to legal review. The last thing we need are files with multiple tabs to examine, hyperlinks, and embedded macros that alter cell values to further slow an already tedious process.
What’s the alternative when opposing counsel wants to produce Excel files during discovery? Should you request a different and more easily-handled PDF or TIFF format? This may not be the answer, either—conversion of an Excel spreadsheet from its native file format into something like a PDF can leave you with a 300-page document and a headache for your trouble. Much like many of you, we balk at the idea of sifting through a dictionary-sized stack of paper that could be saved as a single digital file. It sounds like there’s no easy answer.
Native Review Software for Excel
Attorneys need options to make their lives easier during discovery and the ESI reviewal process. After all, just because the law says opposing counsel must produce, there’s no obligation for it to produce the files types that are most manageable for your in-house counsel. You’ll likely end up with a nasty blend of native files and TIFF files, depending on the size and scope of your discovery. This is where the value of native review tools come into play.
Native review software is ideal for streamlining your review and providing processing flexibility for whatever ESI you receive. Native reviews are usually preferable for most legal firms—the metadata remains uncompromised, there’s usually a guarantee of usability, and you’ll waste no time converting ESI into inefficient images and load files. This efficiency can be significant—e-Discovery often comprises the largest percentage of litigation costs. Now, having said all that, why wouldn’t you always want a native file review?
Well, there are reasons why TIFF files still exist, and it’s NOT because we love keeping separate files for our image, load file, and metadata. No, unfortunately, TIFF files remain our best option for scanned paper files that must undergo digital search. Multidimensional ESI is certainly preferable for indexing and categorizing, but as of now, TIFF files are the only way we can manage to bridge the paper and digital gap. Plus, native files must pass up on the trusty Bates stamp of security and organization that we all love so dearly.
This brings us back to our native review software. Effective native review tools allow users to view the TIFF as well as the native file, like Excel, giving you the flexibility to view and extract complete metadata fields while still ensuring that each file can be handled by your review software. It’s this review agility that helps cut litigation costs, reduces stress on your legal team, and ensures that you’re equipped to handle whatever files opposing counsel throws your way.