UPDATED 12/3/08

During this decade, electronic discovery has moved from the fringes into the mainstream when litigating employment law claims. 

What does this mean? In many cases, employers must now run keyword searches and other types of searches on their computer systems to find information that might be relevant to the lawsuit at issue.

But what search terms do lawyers and other e-discovery practioners really look for?  An article in CIO.com, suggests a top 10 list according to an e-discovery provider.

Among the key search terms?

  • "Delete this email immediately."
  • "I really shouldn’t put this in writing."
  • "I don’t want to discuss this in e-mail. Please give me a call."
  • "Don’t ask. You don’t want to know."

In employment cases, there are obviously other terms or items that will likely be looked for depending on the type of case.  If it’s a sexual harassment case that involves pornography, for example, you can be sure that various searches will be run on porn-related search terms.  (And a Newsweek article this week suggests that the search for porn will be pretty successful given the numbers of people viewing it at work…)

For employers, there are easy and no-so-easy solutions to these issues. Among the easier solutions, put up some basic internet filters so that porn sites cannot be accessed.  Among the harder solutions, come up with document retention policies that clean up e-mail on a regular basis and that following company policies is obviously key.

And remind people of a simple e-mail rule — don’t put something in an e-mail that you wouldn’t want your mother to see on the front page of the New York Times six months later.

UPDATE: A keen reader highlighted for me the original source of some of the content I had attributed to a different blog in my original post.  I have updated the post to cite to this article as the proper source of the information rather than the blog, to give full credit to the original author.  

(H/T Overlawyered)