The April 26 blog post discussed predictive coding as one of many analytical tools available to empower attorneys to work smarter, thereby reducing discovery costs and allowing attorneys to focus sooner on the data most relevant to the litigation. Another tool in the litigator’s arsenal that can promote efficiency during document review is email threading.

According to The Radicati Group, the average employee sends 36 emails per day. That extrapolates to approximately 10,000 emails per employee per year.  And so, even in cases involving a limited number of custodians, the volume of emails at issue can be significant.

Email threading provides a number of benefits, including eliminating the need to review the same content multiple times and minimizing potential for inconsistent coding of emails.

So what exactly is threading?  It is a process by which emails are grouped together so they can be reviewed as a single coherent conversation.  For example, if I write John Smith an email, John’s reply will very likely include my original message at the bottom of the email chain.

When an email collection for discovery purposes occurs, both segments of the email chain are collected.  Presuming my conversation with John continues, the email may have many segments over the course of days /weeks.

In email threading, an algorithm compares and matches segments, resulting in emails from the same conversation being grouped together.  Then, the most inclusive email (i.e., the one with the most complete content) is promoted for review by the review team. Non-inclusive emails (i.e., those with text and attachments contained in another inclusive email) are suppressed.  By reviewing inclusive messages, rather than non-inclusive messages, the review team bypasses redundant content and limits the number of documents to review.

Threading also allows the reviewer to see the full picture.  For example, if an email conversation has 16 segments, and those segments are spread among various reviewers, they would appear as separate messages with no particular order, allowing for the first segment to be reviewed 16 times (once on its own, then as a segment in the second message, and in the third message, and so on) by multiple different reviewers.   And, if the first three segments are non-responsive, what happens when the fourth segment is responsive?  Do you have to search for the first three segments?

In summary, email threading should be implemented in every case.  It makes review more efficient, more consistent, and can streamline even the smallest review project.