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eDiscovery Analysis: Enhancing Review

As you enter the analysis stage and the process of evaluating the discovery begins, how can you best set your reviewers up for success?

Analysis techniques can be helpful to individual reviewers. Some of these techniques include: case assessment of specific folders, organization into context groups, and collaboration with other reviewers by using shared issue folders. These concepts are discussed in more detail below.

Initial Case Assessment of Review Folders

Depending on the level and nature of reviewers used, they may be able to perform the equivalent of an initial case assessment on the specific review folders they are assigned to. All of the same techniques are used: examination of the documents for important players and topics, delving into sub-sections, conducting searches on topics that have been determined to be relevant and noting connections, and when looking at items, making note of their context.

However, the initial case assessment process in this context would just be limited to the particular sub-collection contained within a review folder. This approach allows a more senior person to do a bulk organization of the materials into review folders, and then have individual reviewers organize their folders by priority and topic prior to starting the sequential review of documents and messages.

Organizing into Context Groups

If the analysis software has organized documents and messages into context groups, reviewing entire context groups can be more effective than reviewing individual items. The emails and documents pertaining to larger conversations can all be read in the context in which they were originally authored, which improves how quickly and accurately they can be comprehended.

Frequently, the items in a conversation are highly redundant. One common example of this is email threads, where later messages may contain entire copies, or large portions, of earlier messages. By reviewing entire threads as a group, appropriate technology can be used to ensure that redundant content need never be re-read. Seeing an entire thread of email allows the reviewer to quickly decide if all the messages are relevant and bulk tag them appropriately.

Shared Issue Folders

Initial reviewers may be charged with making only simple decisions, like responsive, non-responsive or potentially privileged. On the other hand, initial reviewers or later reviewers may be charged with developing issue lists and time lines, and identifying key people. Analysis, combined with collaboration tools, can facilitate this task. As important documents, messages, search queries, people, topics, context groups, etc., are identified, they can be placed into shared issue folders that all reviewers have immediate access to. This can help reviewers stay abreast of issues they see in their materials that are also being found by other reviewers. This kind of collaboration improves the effectiveness of the entire review team.

These are just some of the techniques that can help enhance the review process. For a more in-depth discussion see the section eDiscovery Analysis: Tools and Techniques.

Ongoing Process

Cases evolve. Frequently, the issues thought to be important at the outset are different from those that are found to be important later. Review is only effective if reviewers have some sense of what to look for. If an issue is not identified as important to the case until well after review has completed, then important documents and messages may have been missed.

It is rarely practical in this common situation to go back and re-review all the materials from the standpoint of the new issues. Instead, analysis techniques can be relied upon. The same techniques used in initial case assessment can be applied again against the entire collection, now with much more knowledge, to fully explore the new issue(s). This can quickly identify any new materials, people, topics, vocabulary, or time frames that can help in the case.

In general, analysis is an iterative activity that can be performed throughout a case to ensure, in a quick and cost-effective manner, that all helpful items have been identified and used appropriately.

Source: EDRM (

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