When boxes of documents arrive at the firm, the paralegal will literally hold those boxes hostage until at least one set of photocopies is made. The photocopy set is often referred to as “the working set” because it is then given to the attorneys to review, organize, mark up, or do whatever they need to do. The idea is that the original version of the documents must be kept “pristine“. In other words, the original documents must remain untouched or in their original state from the moment the firm takes possession.
Similarly, when electronic data arrives at the firm, the litigation support team should always make sure there is a “pristine” copy of the data stored somewhere. The “pristine” set could be the data that remains on the CD or DVD.
If the electronic data that the firm receives is going to be sent to a vendor, the litigation support team should never send their only copy of the data to the vendor. A “pristine” set should remain at the firm and a duplicate copy should be sent to the vendor.
If the electronic data arrives via an FTP download within a zip file and the data is then extracted to another location, the zip file could be considered the “pristine” copy.
A computer that is collected during discovery may have the hard drive forensically copied and then the computer is stored in a secure location to maintain its “pristine” condition.
The bottom line is that all documents collected in a litigation matter, whether in paper form or electronic form, should have a “pristine” set stored somewhere safe. Although attorneys may pressure the paralegal or the litigation support professional due to time constraints, this is a step that should never be skipped.