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The EDRM Continues to be an Excellent Resource for Everything eDiscovery – An Updated Glossary of Terms

The Way eDiscovery Should be Done…



The EDRM Glossary of Terms

Like every profession, the legal profession has always had a lexicon of words that the average person is not familiar with.  It is one of the only places in the United States where Latin words are still used to describe certain conditions or situations.  All lawyers are familiar with these terms when they graduate from law school and enter the marketplace.  However, there are other sets of terms that are just as important to attorneys that many are not exposed to or are familiar with.  These terms apply specifically to data related issues and eDiscovery that may as well be Klingon to many lawyers.  The EDRM has republished its Glossary of Terms to help level the playing field.

I highly recommend this guide to educate yourself on terms you are not familiar with.  It will help insure that you and the opposition are speaking the same language before an agreement is reached.  Don’t let your lack of understanding of certain technical issues get in the way of successfully navigating today’s world of eDiscovery.

Sample Definitions

Sometimes the words are familiar to us but their use in eDiscovery may hold different meaning.  A couple of examples follow:

1.       Bag of Words this is an example of a phrase that most attorneys will not be familiar with, but is commonly used by more technical IT staff to describe searching results.

a.       Definition – Feature Engineering method in which the Features of each Document comprise the set of words contained in that Document. Documents are determined to be Relevant or Not Relevant depending on what words they contain. Elementary Keyword Search and Boolean Search methods, as well as some Machine Learning methods, use the Bag of Words model.

2.       Bag and Tag – anyone who has watched TV crime shows or is involved in criminal work is sure that this refers to the crime technician gathering the evidence at the scene of the crime.  Its application in eDiscovery is similar but slightly different.

a.       Definition – The process of receiving, recording, and securing client source data as evidence. The first link in the chain of custody.

3.       Byte Level Deletion – On the surface, this might look like a misspelled term dentists use to describe some type of oral procedure.  In fact, it is one of several methods of data deletion used on modern computer systems.

a.       Definition – Deletion at the byte level occurs when text or other information is deleted from the file content (such as the deletion of text from a word processing file).  Such deletion may render the deleted data inaccessible to the application intended to be used in processing the file, but may not actually remove the data from the file’s content until a process such as compaction or rewriting of the file causes the deleted data to be overwritten.

4.       Briefcase – a straightforward word we are all familiar with that can have a slightly different meaning in the context of discussing data.  It is not a physical thing you hold in your hand on your way to and from your office; rather it is a reference generally to a temporary electronic container.

a.       Definition – A method to simplify the transport of a group of documents from one computer to another wich may be virtual or physical.

5.     Unitization – In the legal profession in general, unitization refers to a method of contracting, usually in the area of gas or oil production.  It is a deliberate effort to consolidate all, or a sufficiently high percentage of, the royalty and participating interests in taking production at the locations and rates it is most efficient to take it.

        a.  Definition – In the world of discovery, unitization refers to the assembly of individually scanned pages into documents usually in one of two forms:

  1. Physical unitization utilizes actual objects such as staples, paper clips and folders to determine pages that belong together as documents for archival and retrieval purposes.
  2. Logical unitization is the process of human review of each individual page in an image collection using logical cues to determine pages that belong together as documents. Such cues can be consecutive page numbering, report titles, similar headers and footers and other logical cues.

The EDRM Glossary of Terms is 316 pages long, with many useful definitions to help clarify terms that you will run across when practicing in the eDiscovery area.  You can reference the guide online at  You can also download a PDF for easy reference by going to the above page and clicking on “Download EDRM Glossary” and then filling in the short request form.

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