In the fall of 2018, eDiscovery consultants Don Swanson, president of Five Star Legal and  Tom O’Connor, director of the Gulf Coast Legal Technology Center, ran the Microsoft Office eDiscovery Challenge.  The MO Challenge, as it came to be known, was a follow up to the  2009 EDna Challenge from eDiscovery expert Craig D. Ball and the subsequent 2011 Ernie Challenge from Tom O’Connor, two  earlier projects which asked eDiscovery lawyers and forensic technologists how they would handle a hypothetical small eDiscovery project on a limited budget.

The MO Challenge of 2018 was a similar hypothetical with a twist: the matter in question still had a budget restriction but all relevant data resided within Microsoft Office 365.  The challenge asked if Office 365’s eDiscovery capabilities are realistic and can help litigants achieve the goals outlined in EDna and Ernie but within the Office 365 framework?  Further, can big case eDiscovery processes be handled within Office 365 on a small budget?

Survey questions were posted on a web site in Survey Monkey and the results were tabulated by Don and Tom, then released in a report which Bob Ambrogi posted on his LawSites blog. You can read that report here

Now Don and Tom are repeating the survey in an attempt to see if we have progressed at all in our use of the Office 365 eDiscovery tool set. The survey can be accessed on line here  or if you are attending LegalTech in New York City next week, they will have a short hard copy “ballot” you can fill out and give back to them to be included in the results. 

And to refresh your memory, here are the parameters of the MO Challenge again:


A multi-national company is facing commercial litigation from a former supplier. The company believes the lawsuit is frivolous yet realizes there is at least $400,000 of potential financial exposure and the likelihood of significant legal expenditures. The business employs 750 and last year the company moved all email and SharePoint content to Microsoft Office 365.

The company general counsel has identified 10 employees who are likely to have data relevant to the lawsuit. Although she has retained outside counsel to handle the litigation, the general counsel is determined to control costs by dealing with initial eDiscovery aspects internally. To that end, she is familiarizing herself with the Electronic Discovery Reference Model™ and is meeting with the company information technology team to explore Office 365’s eDiscovery features.


The general counsel asks: Within the company’s Office 365 licenses, which processes can be performed in-house to help control costs while meeting legal obligations?

The general counsel identifies several goals:

1.    Avoid purchase of additional software or hardware.

2.    Preserve potentially relevant email, including metadata.

3.    Analyze content using advanced search including keyword, date range and Boolean.

4.    Establish a defensible and cost-efficient workflow.

We have built a survey which asks about eDiscovery capabilities in Office 365, including:

·         Information Governance.

·         Identification.

·         Preservation.

·         Collection.

·         Processing.

·         Review.

·         Analysis.

·         Production.

·         Presentation.

Once again, the survey can be found at  or by seeing Don or Tom in person next week at LegalTech in New York City.