eDiscovery Searches Are About More Than Just Finding Keywords

24 August 2021 by UV eDiscovery searching

Takeaway: There’s a lot more to making an eDiscovery search than just looking for keywords. And that’s why the best eDiscovery applications have useful search features like advanced searches, slop searches, and more. This means they don’t just follow instructions – they help you make better searches.

The fact that we can store vast amounts of electronic data can lull us into a false sense of security.

With ‘paper’ discovery, documents took up physical space. So there was a built-in incentive to limit how much data you stored. Things changed when electronically stored information (ESI) took over because hundreds of thousands of PDFs, emails, Word documents, and more can now fit on small hard drives. Even better, we can store them in the seemingly limitless Cloud. This convenience can lull us into a false sense of security, though, because collecting information isn’t the same as using it.

However much data we have, it’s useless unless we can find valuable information to build a case. And for this, we need a powerful search engine.

If you get 150 GB worth of documents connected to a copyright infringement case, all that data is useless unless you can find responsive files. This is where your eDiscovery software’s search engine comes in. It’s able to cycle through thousands of files in seconds, looking for important keywords. For example, you could instruct it to search for the keyword ‘licensing,’ which will find you files that discuss licensing rights.

But primitive search engines can be frustrating because they’re designed to follow instructions, not help make better searches.

A poorly designed search engine can be less of a helpful assistant and more of a liability. For example, if you misspell a keyword, your search engine might skim past hundreds of valuable files. Remember, basic search engines do only what you instruct them to. And in a way, they’re like a 5-year-old child who seems to purposely put aside common sense when following your instructions.

Here’s where more advanced search engines can help because they’re programmed to make smarter decisions.

The new generation of eDiscovery search engines don’t necessarily take your instructions literally. They’re much more forgiving with mistakes you might make, in addition to giving you more search options. Here are some examples.

Searching for a single keyword is simple, but often that’s not enough to find what you need. For example, if you’re searching for something custodians Stanley and Phyllis discussed regarding a car accident, it’ll likely be a multi-step process. You’d first search for the word ‘accident,’ then look among the results for emails they sent each other, and finally zero in on the ones sent during a particular period. The more powerful search engines speed up this process, though. They let you combine keywords using Boolean operators like ‘AND,’ ‘OR’ and ‘NOT’ to create a precise search that helps you skip steps. So you could, in effect, give your software a single instruction to, ‘Find emails Stanley sent Phyllis before June 2012, regarding car accidents.’ (Learn more about advanced searches.)

2. Advanced search engines work faster by skipping low-value words.

Every document is filled with words that matter in terms of grammar but don’t particularly add more meaning to a sentence. These words like and, the, a, etc., pop up often and waste a search engine’s time. For example, the word ‘the’ is estimated to make up 7% of all printed English words! And it doesn’t add to your review because there’s practically no difference between searching for ‘deposition’ and ‘the deposition.’ Advanced search engines get this and have a stop list of words to ignore.

3. Advanced search engines can step in when you’re unsure of what you’re looking for.

Sometimes you have a vague idea of the keywords you want but would like a bit of leeway when searching. So, you might search for ‘Anderson pitch’ but be open to variations of the phrase. Advanced search engines use something called a slop search to help with this. They look not only for the words you’ve specified but also for cases where those keywords aren’t necessarily right next to each other. So, they’d find ‘Anderson pitch,’ ‘Anderson draft pitch,’ ‘Anderson Smith draft pitch,’ and more. They do this by using a ‘slop value’ to signal how many words to allow between the words in your search phrase. (Learn more about slop searches.)
Advanced search engines also do something called stemming, where they trim keywords down to their roots (or stems) and look for stem variations. So, they’d trim the keyword ‘licensing’ down to ‘license’ and look for that, too. (Learn more about stemming.)

This is why it’s worth finding eDiscovery software you can trust. It doesn’t just make your searches more convenient. It makes them more effective.

At GoldFynch, we’ve tailored our eDiscovery service to handle the kind of searches that small and midsize law firms make most often. But we’ve worked on more than just great eDiscovery search features. Here’s more about GoldFynch that might interest you.

  • It costs just $25 a month for a 3 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. With GoldFynch, you know what you’re paying for exactly – its pricing is simple and readily available on the website.
  • It’s easy to budget for. GoldFynch charges only for storage (processing is free). So, choose from a range of plans (3 GB to 150+ GB) and know up-front how much you’ll be paying. You can upload and cull as much data as you want, as long as you stay below your storage limit. And even if you do cross the limit, you can upgrade your plan with just a few clicks. Also, billing is prorated – so you’ll pay only for the time you spend on any given plan. With legacy software, pricing is much less predictable.
  • It takes just minutes to get going. GoldFynch 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 trial case (0.5 GB of data and a processing cap of 1 GB), without adding a credit card.
  • It’s simple to use. Many eDiscovery applications take hours to master. GoldFynch takes minutes. It handles a lot of complex processing in the background, but what you see is minimal and intuitive. Just drag-and-drop your files into GoldFynch, and you’re good to go. Plus, you get prompt and reliable tech support.
  • Access it from anywhere, and 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the Cloud.

Want to find out more about GoldFynch?