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“Search Terms Mean Savings in E-Discovery”

Something litigation paralegals need to know: how word searches can limit the scope of e-discovery production:

"With the impending changes in the federal rules related to electronic discovery, opposing parties will be required to discuss any and all discovery issues involving electronically stored information (ESI).

"In this context, discussions will likely focus on what information will be examined (e-mail, electronic documents, Web mail, instant messages), where this information is stored (computer hard drives, ‘ghost images,’ backup servers), whether it is reasonable or unduly burdensome to access and review all potentially relevant information, and how the information will be produced.

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"Whether by agreement or court order, if search terms are employed to make the discovery process less of a burden for all parties, a litigator should be aware of the positives and pitfalls of using search terms, and how their use can miss information as well as reveal it. While most litigators are familiar with the search limitations associated with online reference resources such as Westlaw, Findlaw or Google, mistakes can occur that may unnecessarily limit or expand the amount of information a producing party is required to review if the rules from these online resources are applied to electronic review applications.

"This may impact a litigation strategy by allowing the producing party to miss the review of information that could be highly relevant to a lawsuit. Or, cause the producing party to have too many documents in its pool that are nonresponsive and even irrelevant. So how can a litigator begin to formulate an understanding of search term parameters, and apply them effectively to a litigation strategy?"