Alextronic Discovery
Alextronic Discovery
An Electronic Discovery Blog covering News, Articles
and Thoughts for the Legal and Corporate Community Author: Alexander H. Lubarsky, LL.M., Esq. - - Tel. (415) 533-4166 OR 800-375-4222 THIS BLAWG IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE WEB SITES WWW.DISCOVERYRESOURCES.ORG OR WWW.DISCOVERYRESOURCES.COM

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Don't Forget to Network  

Don't Forget to Network

Until recently, networking primarily meant to me hanging at the local cigar club or dragging myself to the next reunion. In EDD land, however, networking may hold more keys to success than its schmoozing alter-ego.

The astute requesting party will certainly query the other side as to what it may or may not have living inside its network. However, the attorney deposing the adverse IT dude or dude-ette needs to have a basic understanding of networks so that the inquiry can yield fruit and so that the attorney and his or her meandering line of inquiry smacking of network naivete does not become the butt of the chuckles back at the other guy's IT water cooler.

The first rule is that the attorney should look the part. Walk into the depo with the rules of evidence tucked under one arm and the latest issue of Wired in the other. Make sure you strap on a PDA, pager or Blackberry to your belt. Compare your general appearance to any of the DEVO album covers circa 1978 and if there is even a faint resemblance you're halfway there.

Amble into the conference room with confidence and ask the court reporter if he or she will be conducting real-time stenography in Amicus II format. Have your laptop with you with a wireless d-link card flashing like the Macy's Christmas tree.

Next, memorize a bit about networks. You may not need to know the history of Java or the difference between TCP and UDP protocols nor will you be expected to distinguish bridges from routers, but at least know what a LAN is (Local Area Network that runs within an office structure) and a WAN (Wide Area Network that tends to connect remote office structures together via telephone lines, microwave or even satellite - the internet is an example of a massive WAN). Less common is a peer to peer network which connects two independent computers together or connects computers to a printer. Peer to peer technology is common in small law firms and businesses and is included in Windows 95 and beyond.

Also, know that a network is composed of a server or client work station, network interface card(s), cabling and a network OS (operating system) such as NT. A machine hooked into the network and utilizing it (the client computer or printer etc....) is known as a "node."

Most critically, however, know where files tend to be kept. In a client-server architecture the server acts as the "brains" of the network and tends to store and process applications with the clients (the terminals connected to the server) simply are receptacles for the data "served" to them by the server. This is critical when you are trying to figure out where that smoldering gun e-mail .pst file may live. You may want to devote less time inquiring about the work stations and more time understanding how the shared drive paths (UNC) on the network are configured. Of course, a user can opt to take data served to him or her and then store it locally on his or her own hard drive on the work station, so don't completely ignore the possibility that the evidence sought may exist on the drive and not the server. Ask the IT person if the individual users maintain there own private directories and if these directories exist in areas of the network that may extend beyond the scope of the office (ie, can the users access the network from home via a virtual private network (VPN) and then sore data on home computers? - if so, you will want to request mirror images of those home drives).

Don't forget to ask the IT individuals which folders on the network are "shared" and accessible by multiple users. Who has access to shared folders? What is the path to the shared folders? Are these folders password protected or otherwise secured?

Perhaps most critically, don't fail to include backup procedures in your query. Find out how often the network server is backed up. Is it backed up on the whole, or are certain directories backed up? Is the backup automatic? To what media is data backed up (tapes, CD's, on-line storage vaults etc...)? Where is this backup media kept? Is it rewritten? If so, how often? What processes or technology is required to restore backed up media? What, if any, retention policy (read, destruction policy) does the corporation follow?

This basic understanding of network structures and usage will make you a more formidable presence during the deposition and will facilitate the revelation of discoverable data that will hopefully contain your smoking gun or at least your smoldering slingshot. Once you have accomplished your task of making the other guys reveal their data landscape so that your side can thereafter narrowly request such data from the server, you can pat yourself on the shoulder, head down to the local watering hole and partake in the more entertaining type of networking.

posted by Alexander | 12:59 AM


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