A Very eDiscovery Christmas Carol - Part 1

Cat Casey
Cat Casey

A Very eDiscovery Christmas Carol - Part 1

You know the tale. One Ebenezer Scrooge, four ghosts, Tiny Tim, and a redemption arc for the ages. But, my friends, what happens when this Dickensian classic “A Christmas Carol” turns its tale toward eDiscovery?? Are you brave enough to find out?


Paper [Marley] was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatsoever about this.... The register of its burial was signed by the paralegal, the associate, the Partner, and Litigation support. Old Paper was dead as a doornail.

eDiscovery Scrooge knew he was dead. Of course, he did. How could it be otherwise? Bankers’ boxes and redwelds, long a thing of the past. Now he accounted ESI and databases and AI (oh my). This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.

The eDiscovery Scrooge! Such a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old miser! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.

Nobody ever stopped eDiscovery Scrooge in the street to say, with happy looks, “My dear eDiscovery Scrooge, how are you? When will you come collect my data?”

No custodians implored him to bestow a legal hold, no case teams asked him when a deadline was due, no partner or associate ever once in all his life inquired the way to preserve or collect, of Scrooge.

And dear reader, eDiscovery Scrooge preferred it this way.

eDiscovery, Bah Humbug

And so our story begins. Once upon a time–of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve–old eDiscovery Scrooge sat busy in his corner office. It was cold, bleak, biting weather: and he could hear the people in the cubes outside, go wheezing up and down, beating their hands upon their breasts, and stamping their feet upon the chilly hallway to warm them.

The door to eDiscovery Scrooge’s office room was ajar so he might keep an eye on his legal team, who in their dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, were mindlessly clicking through scores of documents and would do so late into the evening.

eDiscovery Scrooge had a very small breakfast before him, but the case team’s meal was so very much smaller that it was but one solitary bagel, left from the day before.



“A merry eDiscovery-Mas, uncle! God save you!” cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge’s Senior Associate, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first inclination he had of his approach.

“Bah!” said Scrooge, “Humbug!”

“eDiscovery, a humbug, uncle!” said Scrooge’s nephew. “You don’t mean that, I am sure?”

“I do,” said eDiscovery Scrooge. “What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re stuck reviewing documents all night at a pittance.”

“Come, then,” returned the Sr. Associate jovially. “What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.”

“Don’t be cross, uncle!” said the Sr. Associate.

“What else can I be,” returned the eDiscovery Scrooge, “when I live in such a world of fools as this? Merry eDiscovery-Mas! What’s eDiscovery-mas time to you but a time for reviewing millions of documents without AI; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for having more data than you have dollars or hours in the day to review? If I could work my will,” said eDiscovery Scrooge indignantly, “every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry eDiscovery-mas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!”



There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the Sr. Associate. “eDiscovery among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of eDiscovery-mas time, –as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year.”

“Even partners and Associates seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of Litigation support team and paralegals as if they really were fellow-passengers to the production deadline. And therefore, eDiscovery scrooge, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, bless it!”



The Case team in the Tank involuntarily chuckled. Becoming immediately sensible of the impropriety, each took a last bite of the crumbling bagel, each looking at the last crumbs on the plate after with despair.

“I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so resolute. I’ll keep my eDiscovery-Mas humor to the last. So, A Merry eDiscovery-Mas, uncle!”

“Good day!” said eDiscovery Scrooge.

“And A Happy New Year!”

“Good day, I said!” said eDiscovery Scrooge.

Following this most inconvenient disruption, eDiscovery Scrooge and his weary case team toiled in near darkness until past supper. Scrooge begrudgingly sent the case team home for the evening, and the state mandated theft of having the 25th of December off with a growl.

eDiscovery Scrooge took his melancholy dinner via his usual melancholy Seamless delivery; and having read all the LegalTech news, having beguiled the rest of the evening with his keyword report, he left for home and for bed.

As it happened eDiscovery Scrooge, having his key in the lock of his door, saw in the large knocker, not a knocker, but Paper’s face.

It was not in impenetrable shadow as the other objects in the yard were, but had an ephemeral light about it, like a flickering bulb in a dark cellar. It was not angry or ferocious but looked at Scrooge as Paper used to look with ghostly spectacles turned up on its ghostly forehead.

As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it was a knocker again.

To say eDiscovery Scrooge was not startled would be untrue. But He resolutely turned the key, stepped across the threshold and, despite one wayward glance over his shoulder, proceeded into the dank dreary place he called home.

eDiscovery scrooge quickly checked each room once and again twice, but nothing was amiss. Quite satisfied, he closed his door, and locked himself in; double-locked himself in, which was not his custom.



Thus, secured against surprise, he took off his cravat; put on his dressing-gown and slippers, and his nightcap; and sat down before the fire to take his hastily seamlessed gruel.

Some time did come to pass, in silence and anxious contemplation. When out of nowhere bells began to toll and they were followed by a clanking noise, deep down below as if some person were dragging a heavy chain over banker’s boxes or backup tapes in someone’s document repository.

The cellar-door flew open with a booming sound, and then he heard the noise much louder, on the floors below like the clanking of one thousand bates stamps stamping in unison; then coming up the stairs; then coming straight towards his door. A moment later, eDiscovery Scrooges own bedroom door flew open.

eDiscovery Scrooge grew pale, and the very candlelight flickered as if to say, “I know him, Paper’s Ghost.”

The same face: the very same. And it was he, clad in his usual threadbare Brooks Brother’s suit and spectacles, but shackled The same face: the very same.

The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for eDiscovery Scrooge observed it closely) of redwelds, and banker’s boxes, USB drives, external hard drives, laptops, backup tapes, and heavy file folders wrought in steel. His body was transparent; so that eDiscovery Scrooge, observing him, and looking through his blazer, could see the two buttons on his coat behind.

eDiscovery Scrooge, caustic and cold as ever. “What do you want with me?”

“Much!”–‘Twas Paper’s voice, no doubt about it.

“Who are you?”

“Ask me who I was.”

“Who were you then?” said Scrooge, raising his voice.

“In life I was your partner, Paper Document Review.”

eDiscovery Scrooge, a man of reason and logic plead with the apparition to prove himself.

At this the spirit of Paper raised a frightful cry and shook its chain with such a dismal and appalling noise, that eDiscovery Scrooge held on tight to his chair, to save himself from falling in a swoon.

eDiscovery Scrooge fell upon his knees and clasped his hands before his face.

“Mercy!” he said. “Dreadful apparition, why do you trouble me?”

“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by file by file, and GB by GB; I girded it with my own billable hour, and of my own free will I wore it.”

“You will be haunted,” resumed the Ghost, “by Three Spirits this evening.”


eDiscovery Scrooge’s countenance fell almost as low as the Paper Ghost’s had done.

“Without their visits,” said the Ghost, “you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first to-morrow, when the bell tolls One in the evening. Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. The third upon the next night when the last stroke of One has ceased to vibrate.”

With that the apparition glided to the slowly opening window of eDiscovery Scrooges chamber and floated out amongst other dour singing specters. Every one of them wore chains like Paper’s Ghost; some few (they might be guilty case teams) were linked together; none were free.

Before he could utter a final Humbug, eDiscovery Scrooge, climbed into his bed and slept without even changing.

To be Continued…