Finding a Needle in a Document Haystack

By , Legal Marketing Manager, Solutions, KMBS

Remember the ending of “Indiana Jones,” when the Ark of the Covenant is wheeled through a giant government warehouse, to be stored amid acres of similar boxes? That scene is reminiscent of the hunt a paralegal would undertake to find a piece of evidence, the proverbial needle in the haystack.

Needle in a haystackThat paralegal might find himself in a room filled with boxes of paper files.  He would painstakingly go through each box, index all the documents and keep a manual log.   Whenever someone wanted documents, the paralegal would go into this war room and use the paper log to find specific documents, going through box after box.

Today, we envision a paralegal searching an electronic database for the same evidence, searching documents that were scanned electronically and routed to a central document management system.  A system that could help lawyers find a specific document quickly, rather than trying to find a needle in a paper document haystack. Electronically Stored Information (ESI) has replaced boxes of documents and Electronic Discovery (“eDiscovery”) solutions have come to the rescue.

Do you remember the Enron Case?  One of the largest and most complex white-collar investigations in corporate history, it was one of the first cases to employ the relatively new industry known as eDiscovery. Forensic experts spent almost two weeks searching through more than four terabytes of data (1 terabyte = 7,500,000 documents) and emails from more than 600 employees. The investigation produced 500 boxes of evidence; data containing crucial information on brokerage account records that supported criminal charges against Enron executives.  The investigation lasted years, finally being settled in 2005-06, and involved the discovery of hundreds of millions of documents.

Enron was the first major case involving what has come to be known as “Big Data.”  A decade later, the eDiscovery industry is vastly changed.  Today, the volume of data is significantly greater, on pace to double on an annual basis.  With document management systems, winning and settling cases happens more quickly and efficiently.  The task of finding key documents isn’t as daunting.  The needle in the haystack is a lot bigger and much easier to find.

And that creates a new set of obstacles.

Today, legal cases consist of documents stored across a broad range of locations: document management systems, email platforms, instant messaging, mobile technologies, social media platforms, servers, databases, back-up systems, etc.  Can you imagine a computer forensics expert trying to find the best evidence to win a case when there are so many places to look? All of these storage places have complicated the industry and it can feel like we’re back trying to find that needle in the haystack.  Today, there is a new need: solutions to capture and store all these new documents for easy access, search and retrieval.

The answer to that need is new technologies that, because of the increase in data volumes, help attorneys quickly find that proverbial needle in the document haystack. Legal professionals need solutions that offer forensic data collection; computer forensic analysis; data processing, hosting and production. They need predictive coding, analytics and early case assessment to help reduce dataset sizes and legal spend. Via a partnership with Precision Discovery, Konica Minolta’s eDiscovery suite of services offers all this and more, including attorneys to conduct data reviews.

At Konica Minolta, we have the technology, the experts and the knowledge to help you find the needle in the document haystack.

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 is responsible for strategic planning, competitive analysis, web content development, recommending technology and service offerings for Konica Minolta’s Legal Market. She enjoys hiking in the mountains of the Southwestern United States and photographing the rock formations.