How to Run an eDiscovery Search
Takeaway: With the right software, you’ll run a search by following these steps: (1) Search for keywords, (2) Review the results, (3) Refine your search, and (4) Save/share your search. Plus, the best eDiscovery applications have perks like slop searches and word stemming to make your searches more flexible.
A poorly designed search can ruin your eDiscovery case. So, here’s how to do it right.
A powerful eDiscovery search engine can sift through hundreds of gigabytes in seconds. But there’s an art to searching your case. And your workflow depends on how good your software is. So, here’s a 4-step guide to help you get started (plus a bonus explainer at the end).
Step 1: Search for keywords
Your final goal is to find responsive files and build a defensible case. But all this begins with a simple keyword search. You’ll type a word or phrase into your software’s search bar and hit enter. (Your software will likely suggest related searches in a dropdown menu as you type – just as Google does.) You’ll be able to search for keywords, file names, file types (e.g., emails vs images vs PDFs), dates and times, Bates numbers, and even metadata. (Metadata is a file’s digital footprint that tells you things like when it was created, who created it, when it was modified, and more.) So, if you’re interested in, say, the ‘Anderson merger,’ you’d type that into the search bar and see what your software pulls up.
Step 2: Review the results
When you’re looking at a long list of search results, you’ll want a way of skimming through them quickly. And most eDiscovery applications have features to help you with this. For example, we designed GoldFynch to give you a brief overview of each file pulled up in the search. That includes its file type (e.g., image, email, document, etc.), file path (its location), tags, and a text snippet from its content. Plus, you’ll be able to filter the results based on file type, tags, primary and/or ingestion dates, and custodians/sources.
Step 3: Refine your search
After a few keyword searches, you’ll have an idea of the kind of files you’re working with. But next, you’ll want to get more specific. Using our example above, you might now want more than just any file discussing the ‘Anderson merger.’ You might want only the PDFs (not emails), and more specifically, only the ones in a particular folder you created in 2014. That’s more than just a bunch of keywords. You’re dealing with keywords, metadata, and dates all combined in a complex relationship. And here’s where advanced searches come in. These are finely-tuned searches built around two elements – conditions and operators. Conditions are instructions to your search engine about what to look for and where to look for it. And operators (AND, OR, NOT, etc.) are instructions about how to combine those conditions. So, your advanced search might have the instructions to find files that: Have the phrase ‘Anderson merger’ in them [AND] are PDFs [AND] are in folders with the ‘date’ metadata entry as ‘2014’. You’re mixing conditions and operators to find niche files in one shot, instead of eliminating them in stages using only keywords. (5 steps to creating an advanced search.)
Step 4: Save & share your search
The best eDiscovery applications use simple dropdown menus to choose and combine elements of your search. But it still takes a while to create a search, test it on a sample data set, tweak the search terms, and try again. And you’d have cycled through steps 2 and 3 multiple times before you’re done. That’s why you’ll want to use eDiscovery software that lets you save these complex search commands as you go. For example, GoldFynch automatically stores your recent searches, so it’s easy to find them later on. And it lets you save completed search commands, so you won’t have to start from scratch next time. You’ll also be able to share them with your team and repurpose them later on.
Remember, searches become so much easier if you have the right software.
Find the right eDiscovery software, and you’ll immediately improve the quality of your searches. That’s because they’ll have built-in features to save time and help catch files you might otherwise miss. For example:
- Slop searches let you find variations of your search phrase. Say you search for the keywords ‘Apex pitch.’ Technically, you should only get results that match the phrase exactly. With slop searches, your search engine will find you even instances where the keywords aren’t right next to each other. So, a slop search would catch ‘Apex draft pitch’ and ‘Apex United draft pitch,’ too. (Learn more about slop searches.)
- Word stemming allows for plurals and different tenses. So, if you search for ‘terminate,’ you’ll also get documents with ‘terminating’ and ‘terminated’ in them.
- Stop-word removal speeds up searches by skipping commonly used but irrelevant stop words like ‘the,’ ‘an,’ and ‘they.’ You’ll find these words in almost every line of a document but don’t need them for eDiscovery. By skipping them, your software gets to focus on keywords, index your data faster, and speed up your searches.
At GoldFynch, we built our software around a powerful search engine. But there’s more to it than just that.
Our eDiscovery service fills some key needs of small and midsize law firms.
- 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?
For related posts about eDiscovery, check out the following links.
- The Secret to Choosing the Best Low-Cost eDiscovery Software for Your Small Law Firm
- eDiscovery Without Expensive Software: Is It Possible?
- Upgrading Your eDiscovery Software: How to Switch Providers Seamlessly
- How to Upload eDiscovery Files [The Easy Way]
- Here’s How eDiscovery Software Identifies File Types
- 7 Basic eDiscovery Concepts Every Attorney Should Know