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How to Uncover Hidden Data Gems in E-Discovery

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on September 13, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

What do you know about the role of structured data in e-discovery?

What many attorneys do not realize is that structured data can be a great way to find information during the discovery process.

Structured data is data that resides in fields. The data is contained in a format or structure and can be placed into rows or columns. A common example of structured data is a contact list.

A contact list can contain multiple pieces of organized information. For example, it could contain various fields such as name, zip code, phone numbers, and cities. The structured data can be rearranged and sorted by these fields.

Mining this data can provide lots of information that attorneys can turn around and use in trial.

Finding this data does, however, require a bit of work. The first step for attorneys would be to figure out what kind of information you're looking for. And, identify where the structured data may lie. Structured data can be found in many business software systems, including content/information management systems.

The next steps are fairly technical in nature, and could require some assistance:

  • Create a data map that will define links between data.
  • Create a data dictionary and schema. The schema can help map relationships between tables and fields.
  • Decide on a production format. Data can be exported into various formats including text fields, spreadsheets, and graphics.
  • Extract the data into the discovery system you use to review and analyze the data.

After finding and extracting the structured data through e-discovery, attorneys will then need to pare through the information to satisfy discovery requests. Who knows, maybe attorneys may also be able to find some invaluable hidden data gems.

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