Round Table w/ Avalon: Email Threading for e-Discovery – July 2012

Predictive coding is all everyone is talking about these days. But, with predictive coding hogging all the e-discovery headlines, some of the less controversial tools that are used to speed up review have gotten lost in the shuffle.  Email threading is still a great tool to help reviewers make faster and more consistent coding decisions.  More times than not, corporate litigations’ discovery review consist largely of oceans of emails.  The consistently growing number of documents that review teams need to plow their way through is forcing people to be more creative.  This creativity is in both new software development and in the legal teams that have to find a way to meet production deadlines that are impossible to reach using only traditional review methods.

So, what’s email threading?  You know how when you email someone and they respond, the response often contains the original email below there response?  That’s an email thread.  Or maybe you have even gotten an email before that says “read string below” or “read form the bottom up”.  That’s another example of an email thread.  During discovery, each individual email response is a unique document that would normally be reviewed (e.g. the original email, then the response to the original, then the response to the response (see example below).

Email Threading Example

Using the example to the left, there would be three separate documents to be reviewed for discovery.  But, with the aid of email threading software such as Equivio (, reviewers would only need to review the final, all inclusive email, in order to make a decision (on relevance, confidentiality, etc.) on the entire thread of emails.  As another example, if you were given an entire email thread that included 10 previous emails that were all just a discussion about weekend golf, which has nothing to do with the case, a single inclusive document could be reviewed and marked “non-responsive”, and it would also mark all the individual emails the same.

Today, so much of our communication with each other is done by email. Given the nature of emailing and the frequency of rapid fire email responses, the number of documents to be reviewed anymore can be astronomical.  The use of email threading tools, in conjunction with the various document review platforms that support the technology, can save review teams thousands of attorney review hours and the client hundreds of thousands (if not millions!) of dollars in review costs,while also creating a more consistent designation of the documents being reviewed.

Using Email Threads

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