Dash or No Dash? Maybe We’re Looking at it All Wrong?: eDiscovery Trends

When it comes to the electronic discovery industry, there are a lot of topics, approaches and best practices on which our industry professionals have trouble agreeing. Heck, we don’t even agree on how to spell an abbreviation for “electronic discovery”! Some of us (like me, as evidenced by the logo above) prefer “eDiscovery”, others prefer “E-Discovery” or “e-discovery” (like EDRM). I’ve recently seen others represent it as “ediscovery” or “Ediscovery”. Dash or no dash? Maybe we’re looking at it all wrong?

Before electronic evidence became so predominant and so many additional use cases developed that required discovery of that electronic evidence, we were dealing primarily with paper files. Many of us in the industry back then (twenty to twenty-five years ago) called ourselves litigation support professionals and Duane Lites started the Litsupport Yahoo Group where we shared best practices and ideas. And the term we used for the process of responding to requests in litigation was simply called discovery.

The term “electronic discovery” became popular in the early 2000’s and grew from there to differentiate it from regular discovery.  Of course, many then shortened that term to “eDiscovery”, because it’s easier to say and write (I’ve probably saved a year of typing during my blogging career simply by abbreviating that term!). But we can’t agree on how to spell “eDiscovery”.

Dash or no dash? Maybe we’re looking at it all wrong? Today, electronic evidence is the standard – by far.  We have it in email, in office files, in mobile devices, social media sites, collaboration apps, even Internet of Things (IoT) devices. And much more.

A few years ago, I attended a Masters Conference event in Dallas where one speaker (I wish I could remember his name) questioned the term “eDiscovery” and asked why we even needed the “e” anymore. He said we should simply call it “discovery” and refer to discovery of paper documents as “pDiscovery”.

Valid question. Actually, even most paper documents usually make their way into electronic form during discovery at some point.

So, dash or no dash? How about neither? Let’s simply drop the “e” and call it “discovery”. I think we can all agree how to spell that term, right? 😉

So, what do you think?  Do you prefer dash or no dash? Or neither?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

11 comments

  1. Good morning Doug! This made me smile because I remembered a “ruling” by the indefatigable Monica Bay back in 2009 where she declared we would still use the “e-“ before discovery (here’s the link from the Wayback Machine: https://web.archive.org/web/20090816182720/http://www.eddupdate.com/2009/08/bye-bye-e-mon-makes-a-ruling.html).

    She was obviously focused a bit more on the stylistic branding, but my biggest takeaway from that ruling … and still today … is that the “e-“ no longer stands for “electronic” but it stands for “education.”

    It still befuddles me that to this day, we still have to educate attorneys about electronic evidence, even though ALL discovery today IS “electronic” – any paper today is just printed (and degraded) electronic documents save for an infinitesimal amount of dusty legacy records. So I still use “e-“ to emphasize the “education” necessity of discovery.

    As the hallowed Craig Ball just recently posted: “There are no more free passes for ignorance” but as we all know, ignorance still reigns blissfully in litigation everywhere.

  2. Wow, great wayback reference, Brett! I had forgotten that discussion. Of course, during her “declaration”, Monica also said this: “But let’s all move to the day when we no longer need the appendage.”

    That was 12.5 years ago. Personally (and it may be my COVID-fogged brain saying this, but), I think that day is here. At this point, the “e” may be hindering education, not helping it. Maybe the lawyers who think “e-discovery” is something only for tech people to know and understand will take it more seriously if we drop the “e”. Worth a try!

  3. Agreed on just calling it “discovery”. I know I’ve found myself using that term more often, and actually sometimes stumbling over “eDiscovery” in conversations, where people outside the industry have asked, “Well, what about paper?” The term eDiscovery seems a bit incongruous as time marches on.

  4. Doug, I love the idea of dropping the ‘e’ or ‘e-‘ or ‘E’. My head is spinning at the thought of all the branding and marketing that will result! 😉

  5. Oh boy, you’re gonna make me dust off a blog post i started writing but never published some time ago that addresses this issue in all it’s wonder and glory. Stay tuned….

  6. Hey, Doug. You are in alignment with The Sedona Conference’s use of “eDiscovery” as shorthand for electronic discovery. But in the larger context, the style guide we use for Sedona publications says: “Unless the context requires otherwise, use ‘discovery’ instead of ‘electronic discovery.’ “

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