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Study Finds That E-Discovery Using Enterprise-Wide Search Improves Results And Reduces Costs

SAN JOSE, Calif., Aug. 10. ZL Technologies, the leader in archiving and e-discovery software for the large enterprise, has published a scientific paper in the Proceedings of the 18th NIST/Text Retrieval Conference (TREC), which details a significant gap in efficiency between traditional custodian-search and enterprise-wide search in e-discovery settings. The results demonstrate that organizations relying solely upon custodian-search are basing important legal decisions on incomplete information, which can lead to potential cost overruns and court sanctions.

ZL conducted this research using two separate evaluation teams working with the TREC Enron corpus of documents -- a volume of approximately 3,000,000 emails from more than 100 Enron employee mailboxes. The team using the custodian approach for searching the TREC documents failed to identify 84 percent of the responsive documents, and only identified four relevant custodians. In contrast, the enterprise-wide search team identified all responsive documents across 77 relevant custodians. The scope of enterprise-wide search enhances the ability of legal teams to find critical evidence that may influence legal strategy, particularly when counsel is determining whether to fight or settle a matter.

"ZL Technologies' work with TREC brings to focus the Achilles' heel of utilizing a custodian-based search for data collection and review," says William Hamilton, partner at Quarles & Brady LLP and adjunct professor at the University of Florida College of Law. "Although this methodology may reduce initial up-front costs, the price of these blind limitations is significant and often unacceptable. ZL's findings demonstrate that a broader investigative approach, relying on advanced search techniques applied across a larger relevant dataset, is a better approach for reducing costs while making sound legal decisions."

Many current technologies were not designed to execute enterprise-wide searches - resulting in slow search speed or incomplete results. In contrast, the platform used in the ZL TREC study, ZL Unified Archive, is a purpose-built archiving and e-discovery solution designed to perform instantaneous searches across billions of records. This approach to archiving and search reflects the expanding demand for electronic records management across a range of data types, and the court's increasing demands for faster and more accurate e-discovery.

"Searching custodian-by-custodian is an inherently flawed approach because it requires up-front assumptions as to which custodians are relevant to a particular matter," said Adam Sand, General Counsel of ZL Technologies. "The better approach is to conduct an enterprise-wide search across the entire volume of data to identify relevancy, regardless of custodian. This approach casts a wider net that allows the identification of relevancy more quickly and less expensively than the custodian methodology."

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