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By Katie Fitzgerald

Published on Thu, September 22, 2016

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Recently, I gave a presentation at the Global Legal Confex entitled, “eDiscovery Lessons Learned from Hillary Clinton’s Email Debacle.” In this presentation, I walked the audience through an examination of this case, and, although the FBI had used traditional review techniques to examine the documents of Mrs. Clinton’s private email server, we took a step further and looked into other tools available to find key items and refine the data set.

As such, we covered:

  1. Data Mapping – Correctly scoping the project and asking the right questions to gather a selective and relevant data set.
  2. Early Case Assessment – Taking the time to organise your data. What can be quickly deprioritised from review (also known as a junk cull) and what is the most important data to prioritise?
  3. Review Accelerators – Using available technology, such as predictive coding, or email threading, to increase the speed and accuracy of the review.

Interestingly, the early case assessment discussion sparked a stimulating conversation. Attendees received the following practical tips from myself and their peers on mechanisms for prioritising a data set for your review team:

  1. Key Keywords: Use this time to test your keywords and determine how successful they are. Are there any false positives? Is the keyword uncovering what you expect? Are the people involved actually using these words in their communications? Examine the unique hits for the search results. Run samples and see what type of data is being returned. Run the word through concept searching to uncover alternative search terms.
  2. Key People: Determine who is involved. Can you prioritise their data set? Is there one key person under the microscope? Is there a whistle blower? Are there parties communicating, who shouldn’t be?
  3. Key Communications: What type of communications are you looking for? It is always worthwhile running a domain report to understand the type of email addresses in the dataset. Are there private emails? Are there competitor emails? This can add valuable insight into who has been talking to whom. When looking at sent emails, are you looking for emails from a particular party? Can you prioritise their sent inbox?

Examining ways to prioritise documents leads to two key benefits. Firstly, speed – getting to the good stuff quickly allows you to strategize far earlier as to the best approach to take. Secondly, it can have financial impacts, by ensuring you can allocate the correct resources to the correct type of data.

If you have other ideas around early case assessment or are interested in discussing this topic further, feel free to reach out to me at kfitzgerald@lhediscovery.com.


About the Author
Katie Fitzgerald

Katie Fitzgerald has extensive industry experience. She has worked on litigation, arbitration, fraud, and bribery investigations; regulatory investigations; and Phase II mergers. She has experience working with many regulatory bodies, including the European Commission and the FCA. Katie holds a First Class Honors degree in law from the University of Edinburgh where she specialized in Technology, as well as achieved an English Law Degree.