Skip to main content

The Best Legal Customers Whittle All the Time

Wood whittling

The art of whittling is underrated. Like whittling wood, data whittling is the process of chipping away at a large body—all data that could be pertinent to a project—and narrowing it into something useful. In this case, it’s case data for the purposes of better managing, controlling, saving, and understanding projects and outcomes.

We have customers using our end-to-end eDiscovery solution who whittle all the time to find discoverable information that may be relevant to their cases. It helps them reduce project time, save dollars and resources, ensure flexibility in their workflow, and control what data they need to use and share.

Whittle Those Governance Blues Away

Of course, the first step to eDiscovery—information governance—is really a foundational building block that supports the entire process defined by the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM). It’s the ideal place to both begin and iterate data whittling.

Nuix customers are using our software to index their physical data lakes and to create virtual data lakes within their organization; this is classic whittling. Deduplication? Whittle away. Aged-out, non-discoverable documents? Hit the delete button. Discussions about employee party cakes and the weather in Dubai? Chip them away, too.

Processes around a Nuix-indexed data lake are major components for getting rid of your data trash and other unneeded content. Ultimately, you can keep control of the data you have by having a repeatable process to whittle the data that comes into the lake (i.e., new data created daily, like rain showers feeding rivers. See our blog Data in Control: Myth or Reality).

But the key to whittling—and why our customers master the art once they learn the power of Nuix—is that grasping how to whittle gives these organizations a consistent and repeatable way to manage cases.

Another vendor once coined the term “early case assessment,” and while it is a familiar and frequently used concept for eDiscovery practitioners, it implies that data evaluation and estimation be a single, static tactic in a process. The best legal teams are constantly looking to improve their assessment of a case, and Nuix supports whittling through the entire life of the case.

Collect, Reduce, Filter, and Distill

When a case first reveals itself—regardless if it comes from internal investigative sources, business needs, or an outside party—our customers rely on a limited number of analytical employees who whittle. They weed out unneeded information while collecting the data and ensuring they get to the exact ‘discoverable’ materials needed for each case.

The first challenge in early case assessment is to ensure that all possible relevant information (i.e., discoverable information) is gathered in one place (remember, our most advanced customers already have a litigation-ready, Nuix-indexed data lake) without overreaching by putting useless content into the bucket.

Discoverable case data drawn from their indexed lake or collected in response to a matter is a critical first step. The customers trim down the information with initial criteria defined by the legal team that includes custodians, date ranges, deduplication criteria, and initial search terms that are related to the case.

At this point, there can be just a few people in a controlled environment that analyze the case data and discuss initial roadblocks and strategy. Rather than gathering duplicate, irrelevant, voluminous data from disparate sources, this carefully curated data moves from the data lake towards the review process in a smooth, easy, controlled, and secure transition.

Analyze, Refine, and Review

Of course, the beauty and differentiator of Nuix in eDiscovery is not just the powerful processing engine, but the most advanced single analytics and review software platform on the market today.

Our customers use Nuix software to further whittle to get the specific relevant material for the case. First, they perform conceptual analysis across document groups and further define search terms and relevancy for the review process. As the legal team continues to refine case strategy, the software supports on-the-go changes to the workflow that allow our customers to chip away and reveal the right information at the right time.

This conceptual and analytic work leads to a better, smoother, easier, and more cost-effective review process, using our continuous active learning artificial intelligence to further whittle and define exactly what the review team and legal team needs to see.

Whittling Promotes Teamwork

Of course, the data in a case is often touched by many organizations—business, law firms, service providers, regulators, and more. Whittling using Nuix not only provides the right data to the right people at the right time, it can also help promote how the team interacts, shares information, and protects the data across the entire process.

And in the best, most ideal and most productive scenarios, whittling ultimately can help your cross-organizational teams discover patterns across cases, shaping future strategies, refining best practices, and providing lessons learned for incorporating into future projects encountered down the line. Like woodworking, whittling data improves with practice and attention to detail.

Take Back Control

Nuix allows customers to build indexed data sets within the enterprise, execute early case and data assessment to group the discoverable information for a case, and then promote the discoverable information for review to define relevance. In addition, customers can make that reviewable data accessible to eDiscovery advisors, review teams, and outside counsel. At all times, the corporation is in control.

Your organization needs to take back control of its eDiscovery and review process by automating the entire cycle, from detection to production. Schedule a demo of our software and start learning the art of data whittling using Nuix for yourself.

Photo courtesy of  a.pasquier