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Ed's Top Ten "Reveal Codes"

Posted 05/4/16 7:00 PM by Ed Fiducia

 During a recent presentation to a client, the conversation turned to all of the advancements in “technology” that we have used for litigation support over the past couple of decades. I put the word “technology” in quotes because it wasn’t all that long ago that the “state of the art” for document review involved post-it tape flags (red for privilege, green for responsive, etc.), typewritten privilege logs and mechanical Bates® stamps (I still have mine).

Anyone else remember the days when companies purchased separate programs that were used specifically by the departments that needed them? Harvard Graphics for Marketing and Sales? Lotus123 for Accounting?  WordPerfect for the (remember this?) Word Processing Department?

Then along came Microsoft Office. While Version 1.0 was originally created in 1990, Office Version 7 (branded as Office 95) became the dominant software bundle in the marketplace. One package, three programs, one price. Drag and drop information from Excel into Word and it automatically creates a table! Now, every desktop has all three programs. Spreadsheets are no longer restricted to the Accounting Department. EVERYONE starts making PowerPoint presentations with flying bullets and animations (whether or not it’s a good thing is a conversation for another day). Overall productivity for companies shoots up. Everybody is happy, right?

Not so fast!  Word Processing departments across the land revolt!

  • “Where are you hiding my Reveal Codes?”
  • “Where is my little color-coded template that I put around my F keys?”

(If you are laughing along with me, you and I should get together someday and reminisce. If you can find your original set of 45 3-1/2 inch floppies that Office 97 took to install, I’ll buy the drinks.)

My friends, it’s no different in the eDiscovery/document review space. Technology changes. Data changes. Processes change. Document review technologies that were on top of the market as recently as 15 years ago are now either gone, folded into other programs or struggling to maintain some kind of market share. Conversely, technologies that didn’t even exist 15 years ago are now “best-of-breed”. I can only imagine where we’ll be in another 15 years: 

“Siri, please find all documents that are responsive, not privileged, and that are conceptually related to the issues of “valve failure” and “explosion.”

Even the law changes. The Amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that were adopted in 2006 attempted, for the first time, to address discovery issues as they relate to “documents” that exist only as Electronically Stored Information. Most recently, the amendments adopted this past December again attempt to address and clarify these issues. They will, of course, change again in the future.

Why talk about this? So what’s my point?

Technology may change. The law may change. PEOPLE DO NOT CHANGE.

Here are my 10 favorite “Reveal Codes”

10. People ignore company email retention policies. They will find a way to circumvent the auto-delete.
9.   People ignore litigation hold notices. They will find a way to delete things that they shouldn’t.
8.  People use horrible passwords. “Password” and “123456” are still the top of the list.
7.  People use good passwords, then write them on post-it notes and stick them to the monitor.
6.  People open attachments in emails from people they do not know. If they didn’t, phishing wouldn’t work.
5.  People who are acting badly will justify almost anything to themselves. In the intelligence world, we used the acronym MICE (Money, Ideology, Compromise, Ego).
4.  People use BCC a lot more than you think.
3.  People can’t keep a secret. If one person knows about a problem, you can almost bet that someone else does too. (If you’re old enough to remember Watergate, think “What did the President know and when did he know it?”)
2.  People think that they are carrying around a phone in their pockets. They are not. They are carrying computers with massive amounts of storage of what? You guessed it. Electronically Stored Information.

And my number one “reveal code” is……

1.  People curse. Want to find interesting documents in virtually ANY collection? Search on the f-bomb.

Send me an email at and I will send you “Ed’s Ideas for Search Terms”. It’s a handy one-page cheat sheet of common terms to look for.

Until next time.




Ed Fiducia

About The Author

Ed Fiducia - Regional Vice President and Senior E-Discovery Consultant Throughout his 21-year career in the legal technology space, Ed has been a technology expert while also possessing a solid understanding of the legal discovery process – a rare combination. Beginning with document coding in the early 90’s, through the evolution of database creation, e-discovery, hosted applications and concept search technologies, Ed has worked in virtually every aspect of the industry. Ed currently works with Inventus clients and the whole Project Management team to customize review workflows and determine appropriate e-discovery solutions from both a technology and Discovery Management standpoint.


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