The Art of Searching Your eDiscovery Case [What Every Small Law Firm Needs to Know]

27 January 2019 by Anith Mathai eDiscovery small-law-firm searching

Takeaway: To run the best searches, (1) Get the right eDiscovery software, (2) Learn how to build a powerful ‘advanced’ search, (3) Learn to stay with the ‘flow’ of eDiscovery

The eDiscovery ‘search’ is a tool that’s changing modern law.

With regular ‘paper’ discovery, you’d spend days reading through boxes full of paper files. And the only tool you had was a pad of post-its to tag important pages. Now, you can run an eDiscovery search to sift through all the same data. In seconds.

Here, your software looks for a single keyword. For example, ‘John.’ It’ll find you all files with the word ‘John’ in them.

Here, your software looks for keyword combinations. And it uses ‘operators’ (e.g., AND, OR, NOT) to connect these keywords. So, a search for ‘John AND Sally’ will find you files with both those names in them.

It gets better once you add metadata.

When you create a document on your computer, the application you’re using (e.g., Microsoft Word) records a bunch of information about it. Things like who created it, when they created it, when it was last opened, etc. This ‘data about data’ (i.e., metadata) is a digital footprint which tracks the history of the document.

  • A Microsoft Word document has metadata like filename and size, when the file was created, who created it, who last modified it, how many times they accessed it, etc.
  • Emails have metadata like who created the email and when, when it was sent, to whom it was sent to (‘cc’ and ‘bcc’), when they received it, whether they read it, etc.

When you combine metadata and an advanced search, the real magic begins.

You can give your software a highly specific command. Like, “Find all emails John Anderson sent Sally Nedry, which mention the Pfizer meeting. And which were sent before 2015.” Your eDiscovery software will check each email in your case, asking this question: Does this email have the keyword Pfizer in it AND does the ‘from’ metadata field say it was from John Anderson AND does the ‘to’ metadata field say it was sent to Sally Nedry AND does the ‘date’ metadata field show a date before 2015? The answer is either ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ So, your search engine does this for all your emails. And, in seconds, finds the ones that fit the description.

So, how do you master the art of searching your eDiscovery case?

Step 1: Get the right eDiscovery software. It doesn’t have to be fancy. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. But it does have to have a great search engine. So:

  1. Learn how to choose affordable eDiscovery software. It should, (1) Be easy to use, (2) be in the Cloud, (3) Have transparent and up-front pricing, (4) Not have unnecessary frills.

  2. Discover what you’re paying for in your monthly eDiscovery bill. You’re paying for your software to find and delete duplicate files and system files, to convert your files into a common format, and to extract metadata and embedded files from them.

  3. Avoid this sneaky pricing when comparing software prices. There are 2 types of eDiscovery pricing: ‘Fixed volume’ pricing, where storage space is divided into chunks (or ‘plans’)—e.g., 3 GB, 5 GB, 10 GB, etc. And ‘per-GB,’ ‘pay as you go’ pricing, where there aren’t any ‘plans.’ And you pay a set rate for each GB of storage space you use. Per-GB pricing seems fairer and more transparent, but crafty eDiscovery providers often bill you for hidden, extra charges that can be up to 30% of your case size.

Step 2: Learn to how to build a powerful advanced search. They use complex Boolean logic, but that’s behind the scenes. What you should see are simple drop-down boxes that make the whole process of creating your searches easy and intuitive. So, first learn more about how advanced searches work, and then learn pro tips on how to search your eDiscovery case.

Step 3: Learn to stay with the ‘flow’ of eDiscovery. Every eDiscovery case has a story. That is: What happened? When and how? Who all are involved? How are they connected? What did they do? Why did they do it? etc. The art of searching is in using the story to build a search. And then using the results to refine the story. And to keep repeating this till we’ve built a compelling case. This is the flow of eDiscovery. And we need to learn to stay with it.

Need help searching your case? Try GoldFynch.

It’s affordable eDiscovery software with a powerful search engine. It’s designed for small law firm like yours. And it has other cool features too.

  • It costs just $10 a month for a 1 GB case: That’s $25 less—every month—than the nearest comparable software. And hundreds of dollars less than many others. With GoldFynch you know what you’re paying for exactly – its pricing is easy to understand and readily available on the website.
  • It’s simple to budget for. GoldFynch has a flat, prorated rate. With legacy software, your bill changes depending on how much data you use.
  • It can handle even the largest cases. GoldFynch scales from small to large, since it’s in the Cloud. So, choose from a range of case sizes (1 GB to 100 GB, and more) and don’t waste money on space you don’t need. Plus, you don’t need to pay to ‘unlock’ premium features. You’ll have the full power of GoldFynch even with a starter case.
  • It takes just minutes to get going. It runs in the Cloud, so you use it through your web browser (Google Chrome recommended). No installation. No sales calls or emails. Plus, you get a free, fully-functional trial case (0.5 GB of data and processing cap of 1 GB), without adding a credit card.
  • You get the best technical support. It’s designed, developed and run by the same team. So, the technical support isn’t outsourced. Which means prompt and reliable service.

Want to find out more?

For more about eDiscovery for small law firms, check out these articles.