2. Goals of this Guide

The overall goal of this EDRM Search Guide is to provide the legal community and e-discovery professionals with educational commentary and guidelines in search and retrieval methods.  This document provides guidelines and suggestions to be considered by legal practitioners in developing appropriate and effective search methods. Use of automated search can be a critical component to the e-discovery process; however, utilizing automated search to locate responsive ESI to satisfy a Requesting Party’s production request can also be complicated.

A further goal of this EDRM Search Guide is to offer a potential approach for requesting parties and producing parties to communicate with each other regarding the various aspects of the search methodology to be employed such as the search request parameters, tools employed to conduct the search, the results of the search and technical aspects of search. This EDRM Search Guide offers suggestions on potential ways in which a producing party can document and provide search results to a requesting party, including in iterative search processes, where such processes and communications are appropriate.  A standard method for communicating these elements may facilitate a more effective dialogue among multiple parties involved in an e-discovery effort.

This EDRM Search Guide does the following:

  1. Describes an overall search framework for e-discovery within the existing EDRM model;
  2. Describes various search methodologies available to parties;
  3. Describes how an EDRM search specification can be used as a protocol for communication between a requesting party and a producing party;
  4. Specifies how a search dialog and historical negotiation information can be recorded;
  5. Provides a vendor-neutral method of documenting and communicating searches;
  6. Accommodates and provides for variations in levels of search implementations across vendors; and
  7. Describes special technical issues the practitioner may wish to consider in designing the search process.

This EDRM Search Guide is not an attempt to substitute a formal technical system for the judgment, legal skills and expertise of attorneys involved in e-discovery in any particular matter.  Nor is it not the goal of this EDRM Search Guide to mandate a required or specific search methodology for addressing a particular discovery requests.  Each case presents a unique set of facts and legal issues along with unique data sets.  What may be an appropriate methodology in one case may be wholly inappropriate in another. This EDRM Search Guide does not describe which searches are, or are not, minimally effective or what searches are or should be acceptable by the courts.

It is also not a goal of this EDRM Search Guide to advocate or facilitate system-to-system transfer of search requests and results. Further, this EDRM Search Guide presents search specifications in a way that may or may not match any specific vendor’s implementation. Parties who wish to use this EDRM Search Guide should be mindful that they may need to translate or map search specifications to the specific technical tools and methods available to them for executing the searches.

This EDRM Search Guide addresses some common issues encountered during e-discovery:

  1. Specification of accurate search methodologies that a party intends to employ to respond to discovery requests;
  2. Considerations in evaluating preliminary search results and/or data sampling to enable the parties (jointly or otherwise) to refine searches to address, among other things, presence of overly broad or overly restrictive search terms, search terms with a high level of false positives, and other potential forms of the search terms that could be used to satisfy the discovery request;
  3. In a collaborative process, the exchange of information regarding the processes each party has employed to perform searches in a manner so that each party has information about the technology, search specifications and any validation of the search process with an appropriate level of transparency;
  4. Clear and accurate documentation of the search methodologies, including any  iterative processes, and the final search parameters and results; and
  5. Commentary and guidance for legal professionals to consider in designing and performing accurate and effective searches; and, to help make their search processes defensible.