Native file review and production in e-discovery is a bit like evolution.  Just when you think the evidence in support would persuade anyone, up pops someone who’s firmly and vocally unconvinced.

When I’m extolling the virtues of producing native file formats in a speech or webcast, I sometimes get pushback like this: “Hey Craig, you’re always telling people to ask for native files.  Well, I think native production is slower and more expensive because it takes so freakin’ long to load each file into Word, and messes up the metadata.”

I’m dumbfounded.  I want to answer, “Wait a sec.  You’re comparing the review of a bunch of document images using an evidence review platform like Concordance to opening each data file in its native application?  Are you kidding me?”

So let me be clear here: I am not advocating that native applications (e.g., Microsoft Word or PowerPoint) be employed as review tools in native productions.  That’s a very poor practice indeed.  Native productions have many advantages, but none is, “I can review the files using my own copy of Microsoft Office.”

You wouldn’t do ballistics by firing the evidence bullet from another gun.  Likewise, an acceptable native workflow demands that reviewers employ review tools capable of viewing and searching the document’s content without opening it in the native application.

If you want to debate the merits of TIFF versus native productions, I’m ready to mix it up.  But, please, please, please don’t tell me that native productions fail because it takes too long to start Word or PowerPoint every time you need to look at a document.

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