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6 Easy Ways to Review Fewer Documents in E-Discovery

Image of ESI Pie Chart
Obviously, one of the most important tasks in electronic discovery is reviewing documents. Also very important is figuring out what not to review. Limiting what is reviewed saves time, money and promotes efficiency. Below are six easy ways to limit the ESI (electronically stored information) in a document review project.



  1. Limit Custodians. One obvious and easy way to reduce ESI is to limit the number of custodians from which information is collected. In fact, some courts encourage this practice by providing model e-discovery orders that include custodian limitations. The use of custodian questionnaires and interviews is a helpful way to limit the custodians from which information is collected. Custodian interviews and questionnaires may be used to identify key players in a legal matter and identify those with lesser involvement. This will help prioritize collection and discovery efforts.
  2. Staging Discovery. Similar to limiting custodians is staging discovery. Agreements may be reached with opposing counsel during Rule 26 and other discovery conferences to conduct discovery in phases with rolling productions so that documents from important witnesses are produced first and documents from other less important witnesses deferred so that it may be determined whether discovery from them is necessary.
  3. Date limitations. Another obvious way to limit the amount of ESI collected and reviewed is to limit the date range from which the information is collected. For instance, in a breach of contract action there is likely no need to collect documents created prior to the time parties began contract negotiations (or even later).
  4. Reverse Keyword Searches. Just like keywords can help identify relevant documents, they can also help identify irrelevant documents that can then be coded in bulk and removed from the review set.
  5. Remove ESI by E-Mail Domain. Many e-discovery software offerings provide lists of email addresses and domains contained in a document collection. This is helpful because it permits easy identification of messages to remove based on domain. For instance items such as spam, newsletters, and fantasy sports emails may be removed from a collection based on the sender’s address.
  6. Examine FIle Types and Sizes. Although most ESI collections should be “DeNISTed” before review, even after DeNISTing it is helpful to review all file types in a database and remove files unlikely to contain relevant information. File sizes should also be analyzed because large files is sometimes indicative of corrupted or damaged files that are unreadable.


These are just a few ways to reduce ESI in a document review. There are many other culling techniques to shrink the size of a document review project, especially through the use of technology and analytics. Please contact us if you would like to discuss ways to streamline your e-discovery and document review projects.



Posted on May 29, 2015 in E-Discovery, Electronically Stored Information (ESI), Search

About the Author

Chad Main is an attorney and the founder of Percipient. Prior to founding Percipient, Chad worked as a litigator in Los Angeles and Chicago. He is a member of the Seventh Circuit Electronic Discovery Pilot Program Committee and may be reached at cmain@percipient.co.
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