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Understanding How Early Case Assessment Works

May 8, 2018

Early Case Assessment (ECA) refers to a variety of tools and workflows for investigating and quickly learning about your data as it relates to eDiscovery and potential litigation. The goals are to reduce the amount of data needing full review and prioritize documents requiring immediate review. This process can save significant time and money during eDiscovery. We’ve compiled a list of the tools and terminology that relate to ECA: Culling: A broad term that is simply the act of removing documents from a collection in an attempt to reduce the size of the collection. Some standard ways to cull are DeNIST, deduplication, applying date ranges, running search terms, and some forms of analytics. DeNIST: The process of separating documents generated by a computer system from those created by a user. This automated process utilizes a list of file extensions developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”). The NIST has a running list of non-user generated document signatures that it has established as having little or no value for litigation purposes – in other words, it is an industry accepted list of “junk” files (mostly program and system files that do not contain user-generated data). When you “DeNIST” a collection of electronically stored information (ESI) you are simply removing these industry accepted junk files from the collection. An example of files that would be removed during this process would be the files that are created on your computer when installing a new program, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader™, onto your computer. Deduplication: The process of removing duplicate files from a collection of ESI based on their hash values. If two documents, or a family of documents, in a collection have the same hash value, one of them is removed. Hash value refers to an algorithm that generates a unique value for each document. It is like a digital fingerprint and is used to authenticate documents and to identify duplicate documents. Global vs. Custodial Deduplication: Two different ways of running deduplication. Custodial Deduplication removes all duplicate files within a single custodian’s collection. Global Deduplication removes all duplicates across all custodians in a matter. It is a judgment call as to which method is best. Global deduplication can result in fewer documents to review, but custodial deduplication ensures that a custodian’s full collection is kept intact. This is discussed further in one of our related posts. Data visualization: The process of displaying large amounts of information (data) in a graphical way that allows for a quicker and more meaningful analysis. The benefits of data visualization are discussed here. Filtering: The process of using specific parameters to remove groups of documents that do not fit those parameters in order to reduce the volume of the data set, e.g. date ranges and keywords. For tips on using filtering, see our post on Best practices for culling your data to save time and money. ECA provides important benefits in eDiscovery by enabling users to assess and prioritize their data and reduce review workloads. Learn more about CDS’ Early Case Assessment toolkit.

About the Author

<a href="https://cdslegal.com/team/" target="_blank">CDS Staff</a>

CDS Staff

Our leadership team and advisory consultants, project managers, and technical experts assist clients through all phases of the eDiscovery process.