ESI Item Tracking Sheet Part 4: Source & Date Received

For a long time I thought the two columns "source" and "date received" were self-explanatory. After years of reviewing paralegal's work on my cases it became clear they are not. This article therefore explains those two columns.


The source of an ESI Item is either the entity that sent it to the law firm or the exact location the ESI Item was collected at that source.

At its most basic, the source column should provide the reader who provided the ESI Item. In the spreadsheet below, you will note that some of the ESI Items only refer to a producing entity, that is fine. However, I have sometimes seen personnel muddy the water by writing down who drafted the document or (worse) who the documents refer to. For example, one paralegal once listed our client's name as the source of all medical records collected from medical providers because they were the patient. In another circumstance, a staff member listed as source for bank statements the issuing bank, even though the client was the one who had provided those statements. The source, in that case, was the client--not the bank.

Alternatively, and this is more helpful in large collections, source should include where the item was collected. ESI Items can be found in laptops, hard drives, USB Flash drives, desktop computers, cloud systems, and email servers. Source can include that information, which provides clarity and helps the de-duplication and identification process.

Date Received

Date received refers to the date that the document was received by the firm. Again, common mistakes include using the date the producing entity received the ESI Item, the date that the client received the ESI Item, or the date that the legal personnel processed the ESI Items (yes, I've seen that happen).

One common hurdle is poor or disorganized processing of incoming ESI Items. Proper processing of ESI Items requires dating as soon as the ESI Item arrives at the firm, immediate logging, and dating the folders where the ESI Items are saved. Let's slow down to really consider what that second part means: while this is Part 4 of the ESI Tracking Sheet article series, the truth is that the "Date Received" column will likely be the second or third column filled in after bates label or numerical ID and the Source. Initial quick and basic completion of the ESI Item Tracking sheet is fine because in that respect it serves as a production log.


As you can see, we are only on part 4 of the series but the spreadsheet is already filling out nicely. Even if only in its current state it can be ordered and re-ordered to sort the ESI Items by source, bates number, and date (thereby generating a timeline).

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