In Search of the Perfect Search

April 3, 2009

The issues associated with Electronically Discoverable Information (ESI) hang over the legal profession like the threat of Katrina II hangs over New Orleans. Lets face it: most judges and attorneys would do anything to avoid confronting the complexities of ESI. However, judges are good at forcing lawyers to face up to bad stuff, so it’s impossible to avoid the subject. Of course, in a huge case involving large sums of money it’s no problem hiring a consulting firm that does all the work for the lawyers, and guides them every step of the way. However, that’s only 1 case in 100, if that. What about all the “little cases,” where expensive consultants are not an option? The answer, not surprisingly, is the “keyword search.” After all, if we can search a trillion documents using Google, why not use key word search to find documents relevant to litigation. Sadly, key word search is not very reliable. For example, if you have a million documents how would you formulate a key word search that would be certain to collect documents that relate to to people under age 12?  In fact, recently the courts have noted the shortcomings of key word searching and criticized its use. An excellent article in the April 2009 ABA Journal discusses these issues in some detail, and the good news is that some “very smart people” are working…

Read the full article →