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Electronic data doesn’t mean much without a good way to find it. Many search tools exist to mine electronic data. Most computer users are familiar with at least one of them, Google. The Internet search engine can help find, well, just about anything on the Web. Google relies on keyword search technology: The results of a search necessarily contain the search term. Yet for lawyers mining through vast loads of electronic documents, Google just won’t cut it. First, Google works best with Web pages but is not nearly so proficient at examining files created in the dozens of file formats commonly found among discovery documents. Second, some experts believe that search tools need to “understand” the concepts and contexts within the documents. So-called concept-based searching recognizes concepts behind words and finds documents that don’t contain the actual search term. Preston Gates & Ellis may be getting a jump start by building its search tool, Patterns, around concept-based searching. But the firm is not alone. Autonomy Inc., for example, has the ability to identify common concepts across large numbers of documents. RecomMind Inc. also mines large data sets using a concept-oriented search tool [see " Portrait of a Company as a Young Idea"]. Fios Inc. is the most recent player to join the game. In January it announced that it would incorporate concept-based search technology in its Prevail service. Like most electronic discovery vendors, Fios had previously relied on keyword searching. Richard Lazar, Fios’ chief executive, says that the new technology helps attorneys find documents that wouldn’t appear in a traditional search. “It increases the probability of finding things you weren’t looking for, and reduces the risk of missing things you are looking for,” he says. Concept-based searching has critics. If the technology was as good as its fans say, there would be no need for human intervention.

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