The Importance of Culling From an in-house eDiscovery Pro

I don’t know if you’ve seen this blog post from Exterro this week. They are starting a series of interview with eDiscovery professionals, describing what their days are like, and this week it was Christa Haskins, CEDS, E-Discovery/ESI Support Manager at Becton Dickinson.

Being in-house with a legal department, Christa’s day looks a little different from mine, but having worked with plenty of folks in her shoes back in my software trainer days, I found much of what she is dealing with to be very familiar.

The one thing that I notices she kept talking about, over and over, in a few different ways, was culling:

For example here are a few quotes from Christa’s “day”:

“so before we even collect data, we’re having conversations with outside counsel so we can determine the list of custodians, the date range, the search terms. That way we’ve already culled out quite a bit of data at the collection stage.”


“Once we’ve completed collection, I’m trying to figure out the smallest subset possible to send downstream for hosting and ultimately our outside counsel.”


“A good day is one in which we were able to successfully issue a legal hold, apply preservation, collect data, and see a significant reduction in the amount of data that we collect”

If we think about it, this all make total sense. When we are working with a hosted review tool, it’s likely charged based on the amount of data that is actually being hosted, and then outside counsel is charging based on the hours spent reviewing. Any business in their situation should be very concerned about the amount of data that is being pushed into the process, and finding ways to reasonably reduce that amount up front. It only makes sense to do that.

For law firms, this is where you can either work with your client to be part of that solution, or you can be part of the problem, as they like to say. If your solution to questions of culling and collection is to have the client “collect everything and send it to us to figure out for you”, you’re not doing them any favors. And if your business is following those instructions, I’m sorry to say that you have now lost control of your legal spend. That outside firm is making the calls for you. You are at their mercy. I hope they are good to you.

In the end though, it’s not in anyone’s interest to work that way. I don’t know any lawyers who want to spend day after day, week after week, reviewing completely irrelevant documents, no matter how many billable hours that is, and I don’t know any clients who want to pay for all of that. It makes no sense, where there are smart people all across this industry who can help you find ways to cull.

As I’ve said in quite  few training workshops and presentations.


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