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Doug Austin

eDiscovery Searching 101: It's a Mistake to Ignore the Mistakes

How many times have you received an email sent to “All Employees” like this? “I am pleased to announce that Joe Smith has been promoted to the position of Operations Manger.”

Do you cringe when you see an email like that? I do. I cringe even more when the email comes from me, which happens more often than I’d like to admit.

Of course, we all make mistakes. And, forgetting that fact can be costly when searching for, or requesting, relevant documents in eDiscovery. For example, if you’re searching for e-mails that relate to management decisions, can you be certain that “management” is spelled perfectly throughout the collection? Unlikely. It could be spelled “managment” or “mangement” and you would miss those potentially critical emails without an effective plan to look for them.

Finding Misspellings Using Fuzzy Searching

How do you find them if you don’t know how they might be misspelled? Use a search tool like FirstPass™, powered by Venio FPR™ that supports “fuzzy” searching, which is a mechanism by finding alternate words that are close in spelling to the word you’re looking for (usually one or two characters off). FirstPass will display all of the words – in the collection – close to the word you’re looking for, so if you’re looking for someone named “Brian”, you can find variations such as “Bryan” or even “brain” – that could be relevant. Then, simply select the variations you wish to include in the search. Fuzzy searching is the best way to broaden your search to include potential misspellings and FirstPass provides a terrific capability to select possible misspellings to review additional potential “hits” in your collection.

The most popular TV series all use “cliffhangers” to keep the audience hooked, so tomorrow, I’ll talk about sites available to identify common misspellings for terms as another way to broaden searches to include mistakes. 🙂

In the meantime, what do you think? Do you have any real-world examples of how fuzzy searching has aided in eDiscovery search and retrieval? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

eDiscovery Searching 101: Don’t Get “Wild” with Wildcards


Several months ago, I provided search strategy assistance to a client that had already agreed upon several searches with opposing counsel. One search related to mining activities, so the attorney decided to use a wildcard of “min*” to retrieve variations like “mine”, “mines” and “mining”.

That one search retrieved over 300,000 files with hits.

Why? Because there are 269 words in the English language that begin with the letters “min”. Words like “mink”, “mind”, “mint” and “minion” were all being retrieved in this search for files related to “mining”. We ultimately had to go back to opposing counsel and negotiate a revised search that was more appropriate.

How do you ensure that you’re retrieving all variations of your search term?

Stem Searches

One way to capture the variations is with stem searching. Applications that support stem searching give you an ability to enter the root word (e.g., mine) and it will locate that word and its variations. Stem searching provides the ability to find all variations of a word without having to use wildcards.

Other Methods

If your application doesn’t support stem searches, Morewords.com shows list of words that begin with your search string (e.g., to get all 269 words beginning with “min”, go here – simply substitute any characters for “min” to see the words that start with those characters). Choose the variations you want and incorporate them into the search instead of the wildcard – i.e., use “(mine or “mines or mining)” instead of “min*” to retrieve a more relevant result set.

Some applications let you select the wildcard variations you wish to use. FirstPass™, powered by Venio FPR™, enables you to type in the wildcard string, display all the words – in your collection – that begin with that string, and select the variations on which to search. As a result, you can avoid all of the non-relevant variations and limit the search to the relevant hits.

So, what do you think? Have you ever been “burned” by wildcard searching? Do you have any other suggested methods for effectively handling them? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Announcing eDiscovery Daily!


eDiscovery Daily is a new blog created by Trial Solutions that is intended to provide eDiscovery news, analysis and educational tips to professionals affected by eDiscovery issues. If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of those professionals, whether you are a law firm attorney having to manage productions, corporate counsel coordinating the activities of your outside firms, or providers of eDiscovery related services that simply want to “keep tabs” on what other people are saying in the industry.

Who is Trial Solutions?

A word from our sponsor (brief, I promise!). Trial Solutions is an eDiscovery software and services company that is committed to making collection, processing and review of electronic data easier for our clients. Trial Solutions provides FirstPass™, powered by Venio FPR™, which provides online first pass review for eDiscovery and OnDemand™, powered by ImageDepot™ as an online eDiscovery review application to eliminate the need to purchase software for review. Trial Solutions provides litigation support services and software in over 90 metropolitan areas throughout the US and Canada.

There are other blogs on eDiscovery. What makes eDiscovery Daily unique?

First, it’s a daily eDiscovery blog that strives to provide useful daily information related to eDiscovery. Are we crazy to commit to a daily blog? As an old boss of mine used to say, “we’re either committed or we ought to be”. However, as there are eDiscovery newsworthy items almost daily, there are plenty of topics to talk about. So, we decided to create a daily blog, with a goal for a new post each business day. OK, maybe we’re not that crazy!

Second, the blog coordinators have many years of experience as legal technology services providers. Brad Jenkins, President and CEO of Trial Solutions, has over 20 years of experience leading customer focused companies in the litigation support arena. Brad has authored many articles on litigation support issues, and has spoken before national audiences on document management practices and solutions. Brad can be reached by email at bjenkins@trialsolutions.net. For a complete LinkedIn profile on Brad, click here.

Doug Austin, Professional Services Manager for Trial Solutions, has over 20 years experience providing legal technology consulting and technical project management services to numerous commercial and government clients. Doug has also authored several articles on eDiscovery best practices. Doug can be reached by email at daustin@trialsolutions.net. For a complete LinkedIn profile on Doug, click here.

In addition to Brad and Doug, Trial Solutions has an experienced team, providing and supporting litigation support software and services to our clients that will contribute posts to this blog.

Finally, Trial Solutions has a network of over 100 partner providers around the country – a large breadth of resources to assist in providing relevant, useful eDiscovery information. Subsequently, we can provide a collection of perspectives and knowledge to eDiscovery Daily that is unique in the eDiscovery blog world.

Ultimately, the usefulness of eDiscovery Daily to you is up to you. We want your feedback! Do you have a different take on a particular post? See a different topic covered? Maybe contribute a topic yourself? Please share your comments so that we can make eDiscovery Daily a valuable resource to eDiscovery professionals everywhere. What are you waiting for? Here are some topics to get you started:

Case Law: Spoliate Evidence and Go to Jail?!?

eDiscovery Searching 101: Don’t Get “Wild” with Wildcards