The obvious and main use of e-discovery software is to identify electronic documents and other ESI (electronically stored information) relevant to a legal matter. However, even the most basic e-discovery programs permit you to do more than just look at documents. The features offered in modern e-discovery software offer insight and analysis not readily available by simply reviewing individual documents one by one. For instance, with the right e-discovery tool you can:
- Figure Out What Doesn’t Need to be Reviewed. Although reviewing the content of documents is generally the number one use of e-discovery software, another common use is figuring out what not to review. This is often done by filtering documents by file type or date (among other variables) and excluding those that will not contain relevant information.
- Remove Duplicates and Identify Closely Related Items. Most e-discovery software now offers “deduplication” (removal of duplicates) and identification of “near duplicates.” Examples of near-duplicate documents are those that are closely related, such as contract drafts with minor textual differences, or the same document in different formats, say, in Word and .pdf. Identification of similar documents and duplicates reduces the number of files to review and speeds analysis of closely related documents.
- Identify Frequently Used Terms, Slang and Abbreviations. Another helpful feature in e-discovery software is word lists. Most e-discovery programs compile lists of words appearing in document collections and how often they appear. This is especially useful because it may alert attorneys to key words, slang and abbreviations that they would not have otherwise been aware. These terms may then be used as search terms to identify relevant documents. Additionally, some products also offer the ability to view lists of word pairings and concepts.
- Quickly Identify Spam. Many e-discovery platforms also generate lists of email addresses and email domains. This is helpful because it permits the identification of multiple email addresses used by a single person, and it also 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. Examining email domains is also helpful in identifying potentially privileged communications.
- Figure Out What Your Opponent Did Not Produce. Another use of e-discovery software is identifying gaps in document productions. The easiest way to figure out what is missing from a production is by using search terms to confirm there are documents in the collection containing them. However, most e-discovery platforms also provide the ability to sort documents by date. Organizing documents by dates also exposes gaps in productions. More sophisticated e-discovery programs can present this information graphically detailing document volume by search terms or date (often in graph form). Using this information, attorneys can visually identify search terms or time periods that lack documents.
- Better Understand E-Mail Distribution and Connect Conversations. Certain e-discovery programs offer email threading tools and also permit users to view email paths. Specifically, the software creates diagrams or clusters of email communications to visually display communication routes and detail who is talking to whom. For instance, if an email is sent to one person and that person forwards the email to a different person, certain e-discovery platforms “connect the dots” by showing the email trail graphically. The fact that the email was forwarded to a third party may be overlooked if emails are reviewed in traditional one-by-one “linear” review.
- Determine Which Documents are More Likely Than Others to be Relevant. Many e-discovery products now offer “technology-assisted review” which utilizes artificial intelligence to analyze the content of the documents and rank or group them based on the likelihood they will be relevant to a case. Thus, if used correctly, the review is more efficient because the review can be focused on those documents that have a higher likelihood of relevance.
With a little creativity, there are many uses for e-discovery software other than document review. In nearly every case, proper use of the software will speed up review and analysis. We would love to discuss the benefits of e-discovery software with you and learn more about your document review projects. Contact us now.