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eDiscovery and Conversation Threading: What You Need To Know

Threads are woven into social media and the way we communicate online. They facilitate the expansion and consolidation ...

Threads are woven into social media and the way we communicate online. They facilitate the expansion and consolidation of discussions that branch into several subsets. Conversation threading is not standard in instant messaging, but threading has become a standard part of email as well as some real-time communication platforms (like Microsoft Teams). This can significantly impact the way companies organize, preserve and access communication data for the eDiscovery process.

Key Takeaways

  • Conversation threading is the process of organizing related messages into a single conversation web.

  • Creating or identifying conversations threads in eDiscovery is difficult.

  • Conversation reconstruction can be used to help this process. It allows users to export threaded conversations and individual messages, review, redact and annotate conversation threads, capture other messages related to criteria in a search query, and preserve the metadata included in the original messages.

electronic conversation threadingWhat Is Conversation Threading?

Threading organizes related messages into a single conversation web. This allows users to follow the flow of a discussion more quickly and efficiently, especially when dealing with multiple messages or participants. It can also provide context for persons who join a chat later, allowing them to skim discussions in emails or online forums and determine what was said and in response to whom. That significantly improves the likelihood of them adding value to the appropriate conversations.

How Does Threading Affect the eDiscovery Process?

As communication occurs online more frequently, the volume of electronically stored information that needs to be searched and reviewed in legal proceedings continues to grow. With threading, it is easier and more convenient to piece together related messages and understand the context of the conversation.

Threading makes eDiscovery more efficient and effective. Workers can filter, sort and search through threads based on specific criteria. This makes it easier to zero in on relevant information. In addition, threading can help to identify key participants and track their involvement in the conversation over time.

Conversation threading does have its drawbacks. For example, some messages may be left out of a thread if they aren't correctly identified or linked to the main conversation. In addition, threaded messages can sometimes be challenging to capture and preserve in their original form, which could raise concerns about data integrity.

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What Is Conversation Reconstruction?

Despite the clear functionality of threading, not all email clients and work chat forums use this method. That can make it difficult for people to tie related conversations together. Some eDiscovery software options also do not adequately handle threads to keep them sufficiently consolidated.

Microsoft Purview's conversation reconstruction allows users to do the following with its premium version:

  • Export threaded conversations and individual messages
  • Review, redact and annotate conversation threads
  • Capture other messages related to criteria in a search query
  • Preserve the metadata included in the original messages

How Can Legal Teams Reconstruct Conversation Threads?

Legal teams can recreate conversation threading manually or via a software application. Software varies in handling queries and data organization, so the exact steps depend on the solution and version used. Microsoft provides these general steps for Microsoft Purview Premium.

1. Create a Collection Estimate

Identify potential locations and custodians for the data you need to search. Navigate to the Collections tab of that specific case. Choose New Collection to create a base for your conversation threading.

2. Add Your Collection Results To a New Review Set

Fine-tune your search query and execute it. You can then add these results to a specific review set. When you do this, Microsoft copies the data for evaluation and review and stores it in Azure.

After adding conversations to a review set, you can collect individual messages that match the initial search query, such as the date, persons and specific keywords. You can then recreate a complete version of the conversation.

3. Organize Threaded Conversations

You can annotate, redact and organize conversations as needed. Automatically link related messages based on criteria that you establish. Finally, export all relevant data for further review. You can export each conversation as individual files or include them all on a single PDF. Microsoft provides a wealth of options for exporting data after completing conversation threading.

4. Review the Data

Legal teams often have established processes for reviewing data. Microsoft Purview supports the following tasks:

  • Group by conversation: Speed up the review process by evaluating all related messages and threads from each conversation.
  • Text view: Take a more thorough approach by reviewing the text extracted for the whole discussion.
  • Tagging: Use the coding panel to add tags to messages.
  • Summary review: View the conversations in their threaded forms and access the metadata for each message.
  • Annotate view: Review the messages and add critical information or instructions to the next reviewer by annotating the document.

5. Troubleshoot

When you add messages to a review set, Purview may fail to auto-recreate the conversation. If you cannot review the messages in summary or annotated formats, re-run the process by choosing Action and then Create conversation PDFs.

Why Is It Important To Preserve Conversation Threading?

Threading is integral to digital communication, so eDiscovery software must evolve to handle threads for several reasons

Legal Risks

When legal teams fulfill requests for electronic communications, they must provide all relevant data. Failure to do so could lead to further legal action and accusations of deliberate attempts to conceal information. Threading helps legal teams capture all the relevant data from a conversation and export it correctly. Additionally, reconstruction can save time in the review stage, which may reduce overall costs.

Internal Audits

Lawsuits and external investigations are not the only times companies need to review communications. In fact, companies are better off identifying problems ahead of regulatory agencies or other parties. eDiscovery software can simplify this process by using conversation reconstruction to ensure auditors have complete and easy access to the necessary communication data.

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Do You Need Microsoft 365 To Access Conversation Threading in Purview?

Microsoft Purview's conversation threading is part of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, and some features are only available to higher subscription levels. Companies looking to access its full features for eDiscovery may need to consider cloud migration. Our experienced migration specialists have worked with medium and large corporations ready to upgrade their systems. Are you? Contact our Cloudficient team for a quote.

With unmatched next generation migration technology, Cloudficient is revolutionizing the way businesses retire legacy systems and transform their organization into the cloud. Our business constantly remains focused on client needs and creating product offerings that match them. We provide affordable services that are scalable, fast and seamless.

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