Is Your Ediscovery Solution Causing You Pain? Part 2: Search Functions

January 29, 2016

ediscoveryIn the previous installment, we discussed the limitations and inefficiencies in the uploading and processing of ediscovery data.  But as most familiar with the subject can explain, there’s a lot more to ediscovery beyond the data upload and processing stages.  After all, there’s a reason why it’s called ediscovery: data is there to be looked at and analyzed.

Given the enormous amount of discovery data that may be present for any given legal matter, proper search functions are understandably vital for firms to locate the information that they are looking for quickly and accurately.  Unfortunately, many search functions continue to cause headaches for its users, and as in the previous installment, I spoke with ediscovery technology expert Kyle Sparks about these frustrations along with how they may be alleviated by future ediscovery advancements.

Sparks identified three major pain points pertaining to searching on ediscovery platforms:

  1. Searching for the correct term;
  2. Excluding unnecessary search results; and
  3. Having sufficiently accurate optical character recognition (OCR).

OCR is a widely used method for extracting text in files where no text is present.  Understandably, it’s important for an OCR technology to be able to readily and consistently differentiate between a “Z” and a “2” on uploaded documents.  However, Sparks was quick to point out that ediscovery providers have largely moved away from relying on OCR (except in the cases of image files such as JPG and PDF), primarily because an increasing volume of data is uploaded in native file formats, where OCR is unnecessary.

Ensuring the exclusion of unnecessary or irrelevant search results is an obstacle as old as electronic searches themselves.  According to Sparks, this problem can be alleviated by properly addressing the first pain point, which he describes as the most significant: searching for the correct term.

Sparks believes that there are some major areas that should be improved from a technology standpoint to alleviate pain points.  Technical areas that could stand improvement include:

  • Speed of returning search results
  • Accuracy in search result sets
  • How documents are indexed

Kyle notes that search technology from ediscovery providers have not undergone any momentous alterations over the years because, on the whole, search functions have generally performed satisfactorily. Nevertheless, some ediscovery professionals may be waiting minutes or hours for search results from a query, where optimally, results from a search query should be delivered within seconds.  Of course, fast search results alone are not enough: Speed is meaningless if results are inaccurate or incomplete.

Thus, ediscovery search technology should improve how and when documents are indexed for search.  Today’s technology is expected to index in real time, and this should be the case for ediscovery software.  Documents should be indexed for search as they are being uploaded, and updates to the search index should happen in real-time while documents are being coded.

Sparks notes additional frustrations with search are not only technological in nature, but extend to include inadequate communication between the ediscovery provider and the law firm or other client organization.  That is, clients need to be able relay what they want to search for to the ediscovery provider.

Specifically, law firms and other ediscovery clients – preferably, someone familiar with the matter with which the data is associated – need to be able to tell providers what the search terms are and what the case is about.  It’s important for vendors to have an understanding about each individual case so that the associated documents and data can be properly indexed, leading to faster and more accurate searches.

Sparks attributes these gaps in technology and communication between vendor and client in ediscovery as the crux of search frustrations, and suggests that with proper communication and training, keyword search can improve the process, but it is time for ediscovery software to see big changes in search technology.

Indeed, law firms would do well to engage in active communication with their ediscovery vendors to ensure that these providers have a full understanding of their legal matters and how firms can locate their respective documents. Firms would also benefit from using a more modern and easier-to-use technology to more efficiently discover cases internally.  As the adage goes, time is money, and firms should not be losing time – and consequently money – as a result of avoidable search inefficiencies.

A new, better way is coming – Learn more now!

Searching and reviewing data doesn’t have to be this difficult.  A new ediscovery solution is on its way that will enable you to search and review data easier and more efficiently.   Learn what all the buzz is about.