Learn About Today’s Most Sophisticated Paper Discovery Techniques

Despite a gradual shift towards paperless offices, many enterprises still use paper for the vast majority of their operations. Paper makes the traditional discovery process incredibly difficult. Not only are there often large volumes of relevant text to comb through and sort, but many businesses will also provide exceptionally large volumes of irrelevant documents to make the process even harder.

Luckily, technology and new techniques can now be used to sort through paper, scanning, reading, and prioritizing the documents without the need for human eyes. New eDiscovery technologies can shorten the entire discovery process by scanning, organizing, and searching through documents as easily as digital files. Here’s how the paper discovery process has been developed and streamlined.

Scanning and Photographing Documents

In the discovery process, every item of paper is potentially relevant until it has been reviewed. Thus, the modern paper discovery process needs to begin with the scanning or photographing of all documents. The goal of scanning and photographing is to get a very clean digital reproduction of the document that is materially identical to the paper document. The key here has always been image quality – high quality scans or images are more likely to yield accurate data.

Once a suitable and complete digital document has been recovered, the paper document itself is no longer necessary and can be set aside. When scanning and photographing documents, you are essentially creating an archive of the information that you will need throughout eDiscovery.

Running Files through Optical Character Recognition

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is a fairly new technology that is getting better every day. An OCR program goes through typed and printed documents to essentially reads them. Line by line, OCR is able to identify the words on the page, thereby creating a completely scannable and readable digital document that contains all the information that the paper document did. This is a searchable document that can then be reviewed and prioritized with ease.

OCR is an incredibly important step in freeing up physical human workers from the sorting and reading of eDiscovery documents. Once OCR has been completed, any number of technologies could potentially be used to analyze the newly created digital information. In this case, however, the OCR is generally included within the eDiscovery suite. Then the next stage begins…

Coding and Indexing the Documents

Once the documents have been turned into fully digital files, they are coded and indexed automatically. This is one of the most difficult and time-consuming components of a traditional discovery process, but it can occur within mere minutes through the use of automated technology and algorithms. Documents can then be prioritized by relevancy and they can be reviewed as necessary with human eyes.

Getting the Best Data From the Paper Discovery Process

The eDiscovery process requires the best in technology. Each step of a technology-driven discovery process is required to go smoothly, making a dedicated eDiscovery suite critical to the outcomes. As mentioned earlier, image quality is absolutely essential, as a poor image quality isn’t going to be read by the optical character recognition system well. To that end, better quality, high-definition cameras should be used to take images of the documents.

Advanced OCR technology is also required, or the documents that do emerge may appear to be gibberish. The coding, indexing, and prioritizing system has to be suitably accurate so that documents don’t need to be re-encoded.

The process of electronic discovery isn’t challenging — it simply has to be handled conscientiously. When every part of the eDiscovery process works well together, firms can save hundreds if not thousands of man hours throughout the course of a single case.  This is what makes new eDiscovery processes both so important and so valuable.

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Author Sid Newby

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