Craig Ball absolutely nails it with his new column in Law Technology News regarding an approach to keyword search. Craig’s take on how attorneys currently fail to make the grade in crafting keyword searches, and how to implement an effective methodology for querying, echoes my own strategy for not only building effective search queries, but making them hold up in court.
Craig makes an excellent point regarding complying with Requests for Production: Counsel should begin the e-discovery collection process BEFORE the RFP is served. Back when I was before the bar with the other “Rambo litigators”, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and we tried cases with paper, the standard operating procedure regarding RFPs was to object to EVERYTHING as “vague, overbroad and unduly burdensome”, then produce documents subject to the objection (if they were readily available). The hearing on the objections (if there was one) would generally buy us a continuance if we were ordered to comply with the RFP.
E-discovery doesn’t work that way, however. Document identification, collection, culling, processing and review now deals with such a volume of information, and takes so long, that counsel can no longer afford to wait until the discovery period is well under way before working to comply with an RFP. Even if you don’t plan to show your cards to the other party until the last possible minute, “good faith” (that nebulous concept the absence of which courts frequently use to justify sanctions) requires you to get started as soon as you anticipate litigation. Trust me, you’re going to need every second of it.