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The LegalTech Jargon Buster: Know the Lingo

| Written by Altlaw

When it comes to an industry as niche as eDiscovery and the law in general, there are acronyms and technical jargon around every corner. For those well-established in their legal careers, who witnessed the birth of many of these phrases, they are commonplace and undaunting. To those of us who are new to the industry, however, they are a one-way ticket to confusion and frantic googling. 

Here at Altlaw, we are all about making the confusing world of legal technology easy and accessible, as you have seen through our Luddites Guide series. In the spirit of education and lending a helping hand, we have compiled all of our most-used technical phrases into this jargon buster. Hopefully, you can return to this blog whenever you come across a term you are unsure of and amaze your colleagues with your knowledge. 


  • Batching – Splitting a set of documents into manageable chunks, allowing the system to track progress.
  • Boolean Search – The method of searching words or phrases within a single query using NOT/ OR/ AND operators.
  • Child Document – A document or file which is embedded within, or attached to another document.
  • Clustering - The act of grouping together documents with similar themes.
  • Coding – Inputting the information of a document into a field. There are two types of coding:
    • Objective Coding – This can be applied by anyone who is able to read the document. The process of manually determining the metadata of a document such as document type, title/subject, date, author, etc.
    • Subjective Coding – Requires an understanding of the document and background of the project. The process of coding for Relevance, Privilege, Issues, etc.
  • Complex Case - Refers to a case in which the data is very difficult to come by and/or external legal help above and beyond that which is normally sought is required.
  • Control Number – A unique identifier associated with a document.
  • Custodian – The owner of a document or data set.
  • Data Collection – The method of gathering electronic data in a forensically sound manner.
  • Data Controller - A body that collects, holds, or processes information on others.
  • Data Mapping – Identifying the locations, custodians, and data types that are potentially relevant to a case.
  • Data Subject - The individual making the access request to retrieve the data held on them.
  • De-duplication – Using hash values to identify multiple copies of the same document and excluding them.
  • Document Family – A group of related items. The primary file in the group is the parent, with the associated files being the children. The most common example of a family would be an email and its attachments.
  • Document Viewer - Interface used to display documents within a workspace. You can use the Viewer type tabs to toggle the loaded formats of documents, such as Native Viewer, Image Viewer, and Extracted Text Viewer. Using the Viewer, you can control the form of document that displays in the interface.
  • Email Threading- Collecting and presenting documents that make up the same email/thread of emails together.

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  • ESI - Electronically Stored information.
  • Extracted Text – Text pulled from a native electronic file. The extracted text is displayed within the Extracted Text Viewer within Relativity.
  • Field – Used to document metadata and object information which can then be used for searching.
  • Filtering – The process of narrowing down the number of documents for review by applying sets of inclusion or exclusion criteria. The filtering criteria may include, file type, date, and keywords and phrases.
  • Forensic Image – A bit-by-bit copy of a data source that preserves the metadata and prevents spoliation.
  • Hash value - Unique, identifying number calculated by a “hash algorithm.” In order for a document to be considered a duplicate of another, the hash values must be identical.
  • Hosting – Loading documents onto a review platform that can be accessed remotely by review teams.
  • ICO - Information Commissioners Office.
  • Image File – Visual representations of a file in either TIFF or JPEG format. Files typically represented as an image file are: Documents supplied with redactions/ documents requiring redactions Scanned hard copy files Images files are displayed using the Image Viewer within Relativity.
  • Layout – Forms within the Relativity platform that give you the ability to view and edit document fields. A layout is required to apply coding to a document such as Relevance and Privilege.
  • Load File – A file that allows for processed data to be loaded into an eDiscovery platform without the need for processing.
  • Manifestly Excessive - When a request is clearly or obviously unreasonable. This works both ways and you can be penalised for providing a manifestly excessive response to a DSAR.
  • Metadata – Information about a document. For example, timestamps, titles, author and recipients

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  • Native File – The electronic format that a document originally exists in. For example, pdf, msg, doc, xlsx, etc. Native files are displayed using the Native Viewer within Relativity.
  • OCR - Optical Character Recognition, this is a method of scanning printed material to convert images with text into machine-readable text which then allows a document to be text searchable.
  • Parent Document – The document or file in which other documents are embedded, or attached. It May also be referred to as a top-level item.
  • PII - Personally Identifiable Information 
  • Processing – Preparing documents for review by extracting files from folders and containers, separating attachments from emails and then extracting their metadata and text for the purpose of searching and filtering within a review tool.
  • Proportionate Identification - Means of identification that are appropriate to the situation. e.g. a username and login instead of a birth certificate for an online account.
  • Redact – Deliberately cover a portion of a document that may be considered confidential or privileged.
  • Sort Date – A derived date used to sort documents chronologically keeping families together.
  • Spoliation – Alteration or destruction of electronic data.
  • Unitisation – Individually scanned images are assembled into documents and parent\attachment relationships are determined.
  • View – Customisable lists of items. Views are used to control the following things:
    • The documents displayed on the list, based on a set of criteria.
    • The fields of information displayed for the returned documents.
    • The sort order of the returned documents.
  • Workspace – A secure online repository for documents to facilitate searching, organising and categorising data. There are two types of workspaces:
  • ECA Workspace – A repository workspace used for filtering documents prior to review. The ECA workspace will typically hold the entire data set of a project.
  • Review Workspace – A workspace containing documents to be reviewed. This is typically a subset of the data set which has had filtering applied.


In a world that is constantly evolving, we know that new jargon appears in the market on a regular basis, so keep checking back here to see what new words have been added!