Litigator’s Brief: Top 15 eDiscovery Terms Every Litigator Should Know

Litigator’s Brief: Top 15 eDiscovery Terms Every Litigator Should Know

Litigator’s Brief: Top 15 eDiscovery Terms Every Litigator Should Know 150 150 Rakesh Madhava

Prompted by the anniversary of  Zubulake v UBS Warburg – the case that forced the legal world to take eDiscovery seriously and arguably created a new industry – we recently wrote a post outlining The 7 Biggest eDiscovery Events of the Decade for our friends at Clio. It got us thinking about how much has changed in the vocabulary of eDiscovery since that landmark case.

It seem the decade has been one defined by an ever-growing number of acronyms and technical eDiscovery terms for litigators.

Speaking the Language of Technology

This lexicon of technical terminology is our native language, of course. But for our law firm clients, who are likely not exposed daily to the wilds of ediscovery technology, it seems a crazy alphabet soup of acronyms to decipher.

That why we compiled this list of 15 Top eDiscovery Terms Every Litigator Should Know. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it will arm you with a baseline vocabulary when planning for your 26(b) Conference or discussing ediscovery planning with your clients.

The Top 15 eDiscovery Terms:


The individual recognized to have created or controlled an electronic file.


Techniques for removing duplicate files from a document collection.


NIST is an acronym for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. NIST has a sub-project called the National Software Reference Library, which collects a master list of known, traceable computer applications. To De-NIST means you use this list to identify computer files known to be unimportant system files and remove them from your document collection. (Read our post, Why DeNIST is the Thing in eDiscovery)


ESI is shorthand for “Electronically Stored Information.” ESI generally includes any digital evidence type: emails, documents, presentations, social media and web site records, voicemails, audio/video files, etc.

ECA Software

Early Case Assessment is the process of determining risks and benefits of taking a case to trial. Early case assessment software is typically used to help analyze unstructured ESI and proactively eliminate unnecessary files prior to processing.

Forensic Image

An electronic or digital format for capturing and storing data without corruption or alteration.

Keyword Search

The most common approach for searching document collections including keywords and Boolean strings.

Load File

The file used to import data (coded, captured or extracted data from processing) into a database; or the file used to link specific files.


Data about data; hidden from direct view, including information such as, author, recipient, creation date, modified date and other potentially important data.

Native File

A file in its original file format that has not been converted to a digital image or other file format such as TIFF, JPEG, or PDF.

OCR Text

Optical Character Recognition is software that scans paper and creates searchable text.


Data must be narrowed down, converted, and prepared for analysis and relevance review. Data must be imported into a software platform for analysis and production, which is where volumes can expand greatly.


Data can be produced to opposing parties in a number of formats, including images like TIFF, file formats like PDF, or native formats. Images are often easy to manage and Bates stamp, but do not retain metadata. Determine which format works best for your needs.

Personal Storage Table (PST)

A common file format used to store messages, calendar events and other items within Microsoft software.

Predictive Coding or Machine Learning

Refers to a process, not a search technology. Machine learning makes it possible for computers to assist in the relevancy review process by recognizing responsive documents in eDiscovery.

Whether you’re new to the field of eDiscovery, or an old hand, you’ll want to grab our complete guide to more proactive and efficient ediscovery planning. It comes with a Top 100 ediscovery term glossary! Get the “Essential Ediscovery Planning” ebook here.