11 Short and Scary Tales from the Ediscovery Crypt

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It's the spookiest time of year, when all sorts of monsters from scary stories creep into real life. Unfortunately for ediscovery professionals, these horrors can come alive any time of year.

While we saved our 13 scariest ediscovery horror stories for the ebook, we had too many good submissions not to share them all.

Behold, the short and sweet tales from the ediscovery crypt:

They’re always watching

“I’ve had many clients use Google Translate to find out what’s in privileged documents, not realizing that Google saves that information. Meaning: Using Google Translate breaks privilege, and they have to turn the documents over to the other side.”

Still afraid of the cloud?

“I was working at a large law firm, and one morning we showed up and were unable to access anything on our servers: our case files, our emails, nothing. The whole company was frantically calling IT. It turns out, there was a fire in the server room that took down two servers, and they had to shut everything down to work on them. 

The data on those two servers was completely lost. The West Coast team lost an entire work day while they salvaged what remained.”

The recurring nightmare

“When I worked at another ediscovery software vendor, we had mandatory downtime of 6-8 hours at a time, every quarter. Our clients did not appreciate this, to put it lightly.”


“At one company I worked for, we’d send potential ediscovery vendors a ‘TAR-bomb’ — a file that rapidly expands and can crash some systems — to see if they know how to stop them. This test inadvertently took down the entire system at the vendor for 72 hours as they couldn’t figure out what was happening.”

Special delivery

“I had a client that was doing large-scale migration of highly sensitive data. For the first and only time in my career, I had to arrange armed air transport of the client’s data.”

You can’t do everything yourself

“I was working with a law firm and their client was being sued in federal court. He was a tech guy, and he insisted on doing ediscovery himself to save money. He did such a terrible job collecting and processing his own data that I eventually had to testify in court about it.”

A haunting detail

“I went to Canada for a case that went unreasonably well. The client was elated and couldn’t wait for us to work together again. It was my highest-billing month ever. I returned to the U.S. to find that the contract attorney hadn’t accounted for the currency change. We lost money on the case.”


“I was working a case where the predictive coding used by the other side failed. Specifically, an image of a smiling face was predicted as responsive. In order to make the discovery deadline, the other side had to hire hundreds of additional reviewers.”

ESP is not email sending program

“At 2 p.m., I got an angry email from a client about why I hadn’t completed a request. My boss is irate, and calls the client to apologize and say we’ll get right on it. We’re combing through all of our emails — trash, spam, everything — but can’t find this request. At 4 p.m. the client realizes he hadn’t sent the request yet. His excuse: “I must have thought really hard about sending it.” 


“When I worked at a competitor, we told people we needed downtime to ‘update the model.’ Really, it was just people working overnight to make better batches.” 

Slowly I turn, step by step... 

“When I worked at an ediscovery software provider, we had clients run predictive coding on a folder of documents they already knew were interesting. It’s not the most statistically sound method, but it didn’t take much time and would occasionally return interesting things. 

We released a new version of the software that forced them to use a more accurate predictive workflow. The problem was, it forced you to do all the work before getting to the first iteration of recommended documents, and what was a one-step process became a 27-step process.”

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Erin Russell

Erin Russell is the senior communications manager at DISCO. She has extensive experience covering tech and AI as a journalist and editor, and her bylines include Texas Monthly, Eater, and Austin Business Journal.