An Index Disguised as a List

Index Disguised as a List

A while back I wrote an article entitled A Text File Disguised as a Load File. It is the most read article on this site. Why? Because as the article states, there are many overlapping meanings for the same term and it can be tricky for a newbie to learn all of the terminology we use in litigation support. That is why people are running searches in Google and landing on this article.

Another example would be the term “index”. The generic definition would be “a list”. However, in the legal industry, it can have a different meaning depending on the context.

An index is the document that a paralegal creates and places at the beginning of a binder that lists all of the documents contained between each tab in the binder.

An index is a document that a legal secretary creates and places inside the top of a box before sending the box off to the records department. The index contains a list of the box contents.

A “case index” is a list of legal cases.

A chronological index in a litigation matter is a list of all the facts in chronological order that are currently undisputed or disputed. We affectionately refer to these as “a chron”.

An index is the list at the end of a deposition transcript that contains all of the words mentioned including their page and line numbers. Did you know this list is also referred to as a Concordance? Just think how confusing that can be when the legal team is also using a Concordance database.

A database index is a sorted alpha-numeric list of every word in every document in the database. We use a database index, albeit sometimes unknowingly, when we perform a database search. The index helps to present the search results much more quickly.

When we “process” electronic discovery, the documents are extracted from their various containers and the text is extracted from the documents. All of the text is used to create an index that we use to perform our keyword searches during the processing stage. Creating the index during this stage of processing can take a while depending on the volume of data being processed.

As you can see, context can be important in determining the use of a particular index in litigation matters.

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    • Sheneika Hurley

      Oh my, once again another one of your article is right on time. I just finished
      reading this article and, lo and behold, a request comes through my email from
      a client asking “is each of the 15 boxes indexed.” Mind you I work
      for an eDiscovery company and not a storage facility nor in a record department
      🙂 and we currently have all these boxes crammed into our office space while we
      wait to receive instructions from the client on where to ship them.

      Now the reason why your article was perfect timing is due to the
      fact that I live in the eDiscovery world. Where what immediately comes to my
      mind when I hear the word indexed, is actually what you described in your
      article: “When we “process”electronic discovery, the documents are extracted from their various containers and the text is extracted from the documents. All of the text is used to create
      an index that we use to perform our keyword searches during the processing
      stage. Creating the index during this stage of processing can take a while
      depending on the volume of data being processed.”

      However, after re-reading the client’s email and having your article so fresh in my
      mind, I was able to grasp that the client is referring to: “An index is a document that a legal
      secretary creates and places inside the top of a box before sending the box off
      to the records department. The index contains a list of the box contents.”

      So once again, thank you Amy for always sharing relevant and extremely useful
      information that is available exactly when you need it. What would the Lit
      Support world do without you.

    • Cheryl Haynes

      Thanks for the article, it has helped answer a few of my questions as well.

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