Junk Files – How to Reduce the White-Noise in your Review

In eDiscovery there are a lot of haystacks and needles are of hard to come by, golden nuggets are rare and guns seldom smoke.  So, if at any stage in the process of reducing the number of documents to review, there is something which makes this painstaking and tedious process any more efficient, then it’s probably worth spending a bit of time up front to save hours (or potentially days) down the track.

Once the fields of data are harvested and funnelled through various text and content filters, we are left with a set of documents which are nicely structured and ready for review… but potentially riddled with annoying junk files.

This can become a massive distraction when conducting review.  As you start churning through what appears to be a bottomless pit of documents, you start to realise you have seen similar logos or HTML headers, or “Windows enhanced metafile” files with no content, again and again.  It often gets to the point where you just find yourself saying to yourself “what the heck am I looking at now?!”.

Like a Russian Doll, these files are often embedded within other documents multiple levels deep and the extraction process cannot determine if the binary it has discovered, is a 27 sheet Excel workbook full of meaningful information or just an invisible white box with a meta tag.

I have been asked on many occasions “can’t you just remove the junk but keep anything that’s a proper document”.  The problem which exists is that we don’t want to remove potentially relevant documents, but at the same time, don’t want to review a high level of junk files.  There is no virtual magic wand which does that, so what are the options?

At Sky Discovery, we have addressed this issue with a Smart Junk File workflow.  This allows you to quickly and easily supress these irritating noise documents by only having to review one single version of the document, this includes future versions as new data is added to the case.

Through smart filters and views, we identify one unique version of each potential culprit and these are batched for Junk File Review.  A member of the review team can quickly and easily flick through these documents and verify if they are indeed junk.  Following this process, the results are propagated to all other versions of the same file within document set so they can be hidden, and not only that, these determinations will also be applied to new data as more documents get loaded into the same case.

The benefits of this additional upfront step can result in hours of review time being saved and helps keep the reviewers more focused as they are not having to skip tirelessly through swarms of documents which aren’t really even documents.

When it comes to production, the legal team can decide if they want to reintroduce them as members of a family group in the discovery/disclosure or just leave them behind.  A full audit of what has been discarded remains in the review database so the integrity of the data is never compromised and it is always possible to revisit at a later stage if questions are raised concerning any reference to the removed content.

To learn more about this and other smart approaches which enhance the review workflow, speak to one of our eDiscovery experts today.

About the author

Martin Flavell, Director (UK)

Martin established the UK branch of Sky Discovery and brings over 20 years’ experience in eDiscovery and Information Governance in both Australia and the UK.  In his role as the UK Director, Martin advises Sky Discovery’s clients globally on best practises in the use of eDiscovery technology and ensures the processes we undertake are robust, defensible and current.

Martin is one of the early pioneers in eDiscovery solutions having designed and built one of the first data extraction software tools.  Throughout his career he has helped legal teams navigate the complexities of managing data for legal and compliance purposes, keeping abreast of the latest developments in technology for which he is considered a thought leader by his peers.

Experience and Skills

  • Relativity Infrastructure
  • Technology
  • Project Management
  • Innovative solutions
  • Leadership
  • eDiscovery Processing

Contact details

For further information on Sky Discovery’s eDiscovery services, please contact your Sky Discovery Consultant on telephone: +44 207 562 8999 or email: sales@skydiscovery.co.uk

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