What Is Document Unitization In eDiscovery

03 January 2024 by Uday eDiscovery document-review data

Takeaway: Document unitization is about dividing large pieces of data into more manageable chunks or ‘units’ – so they’re quicker to review. And this becomes simpler when you have the right eDiscovery software.

Document unitization involves breaking electronic data into smaller, meaningful chunks or ‘units’.

Document unitization in eDiscovery involves breaking down electronic documents into smaller, meaningful units, making document reviews more efficient and manageable. What makes up one of these ‘units’ varies from case to case, though. And it can range from a single document to a collection of related documents, such as an email thread or a set of memos. Technically, the concept isn’t new because we did the same thing with paper documents – using physical markers (like staples) to divide documents into units. But the specifics have changed now that we’re dealing with digital information. So, rather than staples, we’re separating documents based on content, context, and relevance to specific legal issues.

For instance, here’s how you might unitize data for corporate litigation.

Imagine a lawsuit involving allegations of corporate misconduct. You’d be dealing with emails, meeting minutes, contracts, internal reports, and more. So, how would you unitize the entire case? Well, you’d treat each email thread discussing a specific deal/incident as a single unit. This includes all replies and forwards related to that thread. Similarly, you’d group meeting minutes from a particular series of meetings as a separate unit. And you’d do the same with contracts and reports. You’d combine each contract and its related negotiation correspondence or amendments into individual units.

Doing all this involves some challenges, though.

There are challenges here – particularly in the context of legal document management.

1. There’s usually a LOT of data to unitize.

In many legal cases, especially those involving large corporations or extensive litigation, the volume of documents can be enormous, often running into thousands or even millions of pages. So, handling these volumes can strain the budgets and capacities of legal teams, especially in smaller firms or cases with limited financial resources. Also, legal proceedings often operate under strict deadlines. So, it’s extra stressful to process a large volume of documents on time. And you’re more likely to overlook critical information.

2. It’s hard to stay accurate and consistent.

It’s hard to ensure that documents are categorized correctly and consistently. And inaccuracies can lead to incorrect conclusions or missing crucial evidence. Also, errors in the early stages of unitization can spread through the entire review process, worsening any inaccuracies. Inaccuracies that could have direct consequences on legal strategies and outcomes, potentially affecting the course of litigation or negotiation. So, you’ll need to set up rigorous quality control mechanisms, which can be resource-intensive.

3. It’s a struggle to stay objective.

Different reviewers may interpret the same set of documents differently, and this subjectivity can lead to inconsistencies in how documents are grouped and understood. Remember, the context in which a document was created or used can significantly influence its interpretation. So, reviewers who understand this context differently will unitize the data differently, too. (Their level of training and experience plays a crucial role here. Inexperienced reviewers might lack the nuanced understanding necessary for accurate unitization.)

Thankfully, there are ways to tackle these challenges.

We can tackle these challenges using rigorous training, quality control mechanisms, and the right technology. Here’s how:

  1. Rigorous training and guidelines: Providing comprehensive training and clear, detailed guidelines to reviewers can help minimize subjectivity and improve consistency.
  2. Quality control mechanisms: Implementing robust quality control processes at various stages of the unitization process can help catch and correct errors, ensuring accuracy.
  3. Leveraging technology: Advanced technologies like AI and machine learning can assist in handling large volumes more efficiently and improve accuracy by learning from previous categorizations.

Crucially, top-tier eDiscovery services can help simplify unitization.

Top-tier eDiscovery services give you tools to simplify unitization. Take GoldFynch, for example. If you get a bulk PDF production sent as a single document, GoldFynch can help you split it into individual documents and/or files. For instance, it lets you split each page of the bulk PDF into a separate document. Or it’ll let you split the document at special markers – e.g., splitting a PDF of emails into individual emails by looking for the “To:, From:, Subject:” headers. It’ll also help you split documents based on document annotations. Or based on specific document tags.

And it’s not just unitization that an eDiscovery service can help with.

An eDiscovery subscription service like GoldFynch comes with an entire eDiscovery toolkit for you to use. Plus, it offers attractive advantages.

  • It costs just $25 a month for a 3 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. With GoldFynch, you know exactly what you’re paying for: its pricing is simple and readily available on the website.
  • It’s easy to budget for. GoldFynch charges only for storage (processing files 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 (our average response time is 30 minutes).
  • Access it from anywhere, and 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the Cloud.

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