Case Study – Masters of Whittling

Aug 7, 2020

A case study on how to quickly collect documents and reduce the volume for review using technology.


A law firm needed to collect documents from their client but after several weeks the legal team were struggling to get their client and their IT team engaged in the collection process. How could we simplify the process for the client and get just the relevant documents to the lawyers?

ELMS Whittling Case Study

How the Lawyers and ELMS Approached the Problem

To facilitate the collection of documents quickly and with as little disruption to the client as possible, the first step was to engage an ELMS consultant to work directly with the client’s business to carry out the collection.

Next, to minimise disruption to the client, it was decided to collect all of the emails of the relevant individuals and documents on the network drives of the company and then use technology to reduce the data set after it had been ingested into the litigation database.

ELMS collected and ingested into the litigation database, 296,664 documents.

It was critical to reduce the size of this dataset before any review was conducted by the legal team.

Deduplication reduced the document set by 108,017.

ELMS ran searches across the data, based on the individuals and keywords, to find the relevant documents for review. 172,381 documents did not meet the search criteria, leaving 16,266 documents for review by the legal team.

The relevant documents were then arranged chronologically by individual and search terms for review by the legal team.

The documents excluded by the search parameters were removed from the litigation database so the client only paid data hosting for the documents identified for review.

Benefits of Approach

Whilst this approach involved an initial over-collection, a manageable document set for review was achieved with a targeted approach to the reduction of that data set.

The reluctance of the client and their IT team to engage in the collection exercise at the outset was successfully overcome by using technology after collection to whittle the document set down.

ELMS substantially reduced the number of documents after deduplication for review from 172,381 to 16,266 therefore reducing the cost of legal review.

This approach needs careful management of the original collection to avoid overpaying for hosting costs in the long term.