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

Some simple eDiscovery methods can still be effective

August 31st, 2021

We know that today’s data volumes continue to increase rapidly, providing new and evolving challenges for all discovery matters. Unless effectively undertaken the costs and burden of the discovery process can easily (and quickly) spiral out of control.

However, it doesn’t always mean you need the latest software or use the most sophisticated new techniques. Many effective eDiscovery methods can still be those that are simple and have been used for years. Used properly they can still be an effective method in your search and review strategy.

Don’t get me wrong, much of the technology out there is fantastic, but sometimes there are some easy wins that can simply come from some small incremental changes in your approach – including applying to simple and effective methods you have used for years. It is not always the use of Technology Assisted Review (TAR), or the utilisation of other powerful technologies that will be right for you – not all matters require predictive coding.

Some simple and effective options

Some of the potential options  worth considering could be –

  • Date ranges
  • Key People (custodians and potential witnesses)
  • Keyword search terms, including the testing the effectiveness and limitations of proposed search terms.

You can even go deeper looking at some easy wins like exploring –

  • Name normalization (or ‘normalisation’, for those in this part of the world) – often there are multiple variances of a name (e.g. Jane Jones, Jane Charlotte Jones, J Jones, JC Jones, Dr. Jones, jjones@company.com or even Jane Jones[/O=FIRST ORGANIZATION/OU=EXCHANGE ADMINISTRATIVE GROUP (ABCDEFG12HIJKL)/CN=RECIPIENTS/CN=Jane Jones]). Name normalization allows you to find and manage an individual’s various email addresses and consolidate them into a single entity
  • Domain analysis – are there particular ‘email domains’ that you do not require, or alternatively ones that need further examination (e.g. data from a news site or from the likes of Netflix, eBay, TradeMe, Ticketek).
  • File types – are there particular file types that you may not require for the scope of your exercise. (e.g. the likes of video files or databases may not be relevant to the matter)
  • Communications mapping – can you isolate and identify who was communicating with who, and when?

As well as these methods and to enhance your process further, you may explore the effectiveness of technology assisted review techniques like Predictive Coding, concept searching, clustering and even email threading and near duplicate analysis. Used effectively they can group similar documents together, to enable you to isolate to dramatically enhance the effectiveness of the review process.

But, do think about it early…

With whatever strategy, it is crucial to turn our mind to the practical discovery requirements, much earlier in the process to help target the approach.

The skill is to invest time at the outset of a matter devising the best approach to suit your requirements, to find an effective method so you can focus on only what you need in a way that is quick & cost-effective. On your next matter invest an hour at the outset of a matter with an expert to try and work out the best way to approach the discovery exercise – this may include some simple methods that have been around for a long time. The time invested at the outset could save thousands down the track, not to mention lessening the burden for you and your firm.

It may be that some of the simple strategies mentioned above can still be very effective, if thoroughly considered.

 

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