The NZ E-Discovery Blog  Facilitating proportionate and efficient e-discovery

I still haven’t found what I am searching for…

April 6th, 2017

Keyword searching is a very common method used in litigation or investigations to target potentially relevant information, but it is easy to get it completely wrong.

A recent article of mine published in LawTalk I still haven’t found what I am searching for, highlighted how keyword search terms will not find what you are looking for unless they are carefully crafted and refined if necessary.

In the article I provided steps that may assist in making a keyword approach more effective –

Talk to your custodians
Use the knowledge of individuals involved to identify any specific language, terminology or abbreviations that may be specific to the matter.

Construct initial keyword search terms
This should be a combination of the terms from individuals involved in the matter and the legal team.

Test and sample the initial search terms
Identify the hit counts for each search term. Have they produced the results you were seeking? What is being captured and what is being missed? Be aware of spelling mistakes, or different words that may refer to the same thing. The ability to quickly see the terms in their context is a powerful way to analyse if the terms need further revision.

Refine search terms
Are there variables of the search terms that should be run? This should be an iterative process, including co-operating with the other side until all parties can agree on the keywords that will be effective in locating the information you require.

Engage specialist expertise
A trusted advisor can be invaluable in navigating you through the search process, helping you and your client to save time and money. They can assist you to test and sample the results, providing clarity of what the search terms may deliver and suggest potential variations that help you find what you are searching for.

These messages are reinforced in the conclusion of the LawTalk article –

Keyword search terms can be an effective method of isolating important information, but they do need to be carefully crafted. If they are not, then they will not find what you are searching for.

Investing the time devising appropriate search terms, involving testing, sampling and potentially refining will give you a much better chance of finding what you are searching for.

You can read the full article in LawTalk here.



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