What Is a Load File?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A load file is a document that accompanies files and electronic data that is collected during electronic discovery in a legal case. The load file creates a permanent record of metadata accompanying the material and acts as an index and reference to the documents, which can be quite numerous in major litigation. E-discovery software has mechanisms in place to create load files, and experts in this procedure can make sure that it is done properly and appropriately.

Woman doing a handstand with a computer
Woman doing a handstand with a computer

In the course of electronic discovery, litigators identify and preserve any documents that might be relevant to their case. To protect the integrity of documents, the investigator might convert them into an image format so that they cannot be altered. This conversion can potentially strip them of data, and the load file preserves metadata, such as the creator's name, date and so forth, for future reference. It also indexes all of the images to make them easy to find and to reference during the process of investigating and pursuing the case in court.

The user can set up the load file template with a number of parameters and ask it to pull all relevant data. It will extract text as well as metadata from all of the documents and will present it in a spreadsheet format. The spreadsheet links to the imaged files to create original references, and the litigator can work with the material in the load file while he or she works on the case. When it is time to present material, the litigator can reference the load file to quickly pull what he or she needs for court.

There many load file formats, because numerous software programs provide electronic discovery services. Users can decide on the best program for their needs or might contract the process out to a third party if they want to focus on other aspects of the case. In electronic discovery, backups and other safety measures are crucial to protect the integrity of the data. If the other side challenges in court, the attorneys need to be able to show that it is original, valid and usable.

Electronic discovery software can take some time to learn. Attorneys and investigators might take courses to learn how to operate the software and pick up some tips and tricks to use it most effectively. Mistakes with this process can be costly for a trial, and it is important for the software to be used correctly and appropriately to avoid problems that might come back to haunt the attorney in court.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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