Keyword searching is the e-discovery buzz. It may surprise many legal market professionals that search and keywords is really an old issue. 

Ari Kaplan, in We’re All in the Keyword Business (, 15 Dec 2008), reports on a recent EDD conference. He writes:

“the recurring issue throughout the two-day exposition was the growing importance of search… There were various suggestions for refocusing keyword protocols, which included: (1) using misspellings in your list of search terms; (2) conducting sampling; (3) developing an overall search process; … develop a more sophisticated means of searching, which may include Boolean practices”

All necessary but not new. Or only new to the newbies. Some litigation support professionals grappled with similar issues throughout the 1990s. By 1991, some firms were scanning paper, OCRing, and creating full-text searchable litigation support databases. They had to deal with many of the issues we face today: under- and over-inclusive searches, finding related words, selecting the right conceptual search engine, and techniques such as sampling to perform QC.

Anyone who thinks that learning from history can be useful can have a look at my 1997 PLI outline, Lessons Learned in Litigation Support. Search the page for “search” – you may be surprised how often it occurs. And by the way, this outline describes work that was started in 1990-91 and in production by 1992-93. The money quote – from the introduction – applies equally today:

“Perhaps the greatest lesson is that the human element and human processes are more important than technology in achieving cost-effective results. The best technology does not help unless the litigation team plans for its use and changes the way it works.”