Completing Your Cartography

Data Mapping, Part 3

A discussion of the practice of data mapping for eDiscovery – and how to do it effectively for significant savings of time and money, as well as reducing risk and increasing defensibility

In the first Part of this short series, we reviewed the concept of data mapping for eDiscovery and the benefits that can accrue from completing such an effort.  Creating a data map that is useful for eDiscovery (or for other legal purposes) is a five-phase process: (1) Legal Inventory; (2) Source Inventory; (3) Initial Map Creation; (4) Analysis and Alignment; and, (5) Connection and Maintenance.  In the second Part, we reviewed the first three of these five phases, and in this final Part, we review the final two phases.

Analysis and Alignment

Once all the raw information you collected in the legal and source inventories has been integrated into a preliminary “map,” the next phase is analysis and alignment.  In this fourth phase, you now have something concrete to review and analyze:

  • Does the collected data reveal high and low probability sources?
    • Any sources so unlikely they should be removed?
  • Does it reveal easy and challenging sources to collect?
    • Any sources so challenging they warrant reconsideration?
  • Does it reveal areas of historically duplicated effort?
    • Any materials duplicated across sources or frequently recollected?

These general insights, and others specific to your organization, can be gleaned from analysis of your initial map.  Additionally, your analysis of the initial map will reveal any remaining gaps in your information or any areas warranting the gathering of additional details. Finally, your analysis may reveal obvious patterns or trends that can inform tiering or other groupings.

Alignment is the process of bringing your now-nearly-final map into alignment with your existing eDiscovery and litigation policies and procedures:

  • Are there source classification schemes or naming conventions in place that need to be made consistent between the map and the other policies and procedures?
  • Is there an existing tiered-response plan for discovery that needs to be applied to the sources on the map?
  • If not, does the map suggest a structure that could be used to establish one within the organization’s policies?

Once you have completed your analysis, done any additional digging, filled any gaps, and aligned the naming, annotations, classifications, etc., you have a completed data map ready for use.

Connection and Maintenance

The final phase of this process involves the connection and maintenance of the final data map.  Once completed, the data map needs to be connected to existing procedures.  For example:

  • Who will hold the map, and who needs to have access to the map?
  • At what point in the litigation hold procedure will the map be consulted and by who?
  • How will use of the map be combined with custodian interviews/questionnaires?

In addition to connecting the map with existing procedures, you will also need to add a new procedure for maintenance of the map.  To remain useful, it will need to be reviewed and updated at regular intervals.  A procedure will need to be established, and an owner for that procedure identified, for re-contacting the relevant legal and technical information sources and updating the map as needed.  Quarterly is a common interval for this refresh process.


Data mapping for eDiscovery, litigation, and investigations combines system and source type information, content-oriented information, and additional useful information about ownership and control, output and extraction, and legal significance into a single reference tool.  Although time-consuming, completing it can yield a variety of benefits for an organization that justify the effort, including:

  • Identification becoming fast, easy, and inexpensive
  • Preservation and collection becoming faster and more efficient
  • Risk of a source being overlooked being reduced
  • Risk of an automated janitorial function going unsuspended being reduced

VP, Marketing Content
Advanced Discovery

Matthew Verga is an electronic discovery expert proficient at leveraging his legal experience as an attorney, his technical knowledge as a practitioner, and his skills as a communicator to make complex eDiscovery topics accessible.  A nine-year industry veteran, Matthew has worked across every phase of the EDRM and at every level from the project trenches to enterprise program design.  As VP, Marketing Content, for Advanced Discovery, he leverages this background to produce engaging educational content to empower practitioners at all levels with knowledge they can use to improve their projects, their careers, and their organizations.

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