Does finding the best way to search through huge volumes of e-data sometimes feel like the quest for the Holy Grail? 

I’ve previously written about applying smart search tools and using offshore lawyers to manage e-discovery reviews more effectively. In thinking about process improvement, we should not forget the importance of human expertise in conducting search. Better Search for E-Discovery by Will Uppington at the E-Discovery 2.0 blog is a good summary of recent TREC research. A key finding: one of the most effective techniques to reduce the volume of docs to review is to have expert searchers iteratively conduct searches. As the post notes, this may be obvious but that does not mean it’s widely followed.

I think this has been true for decades and will likely remain true absent a software revolution. So I disagree with Uppington’s explanation for why iterative search by experts does not occur in all cases: “the single biggest reason is that the technology used to perform searches for e-discovery has simply not been easy enough for legal experts to use.”

Until computers can read our minds (and I hope that days never comes), lawyers and their colleagues must “communicate” complex information to software. I’m not sure that this process can be so simplified that lawyer-experts don’t have to learn something about the search tool.

The seeming simplicity of Google lulls many into an expectation that one word searches suffice. There are good and bad Google searchers. Laziness in or fear of learning to conduct good Google searches should not excuse the same when it comes to EDD. We all expect our doctors and surgeons to learn their tools – why should we expect any less from lawyers?