As most e-discovery vendors will happily tell you, 99 percent of all new business information is being created and stored electronically, and an estimated 60 billion e-mail messages are sent daily in the U.S. Sifting through all this data in a meaningful manner requires strategic thinking. On one hand, parties have an obligation — and courts have created incentives — to be fully forthcoming on electronic discovery requests. On the other hand, processing and reviewing data collected from hundreds of desktops and servers can become very expensive.

The results of a recent e-discovery keyword search should have come as no surprise. Working on a case related to a specific transaction, the attorneys requested production of all documents containing the word “buy.” Despite being cautioned against this broad search, they were reluctant to heed the warnings, and many unrelated documents were incorrectly deemed responsive. Unfortunately, it takes a $750,000 mistake like this one for some people to understand the benefits of using a strategic approach to keyword selection.