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App Helps Process Emojis in Litigation Cases

As of late, emojis, along with mobile device data in general, have become more and more prevalent in discovery and internal investigations. This trend is sure to accelerate as smartphone usage continues to replace computers for many tasks.

Now, there is a new app that gives lawyers and litigation professionals the ability to code and search for specific emojis during the discovery process. Working on Relativity’s e-discovery platform, QMobile Insight can search for, identify and process emojis found in relevant case files—meaning that the one piece of evidence needed to win the case could be a simple poop, flying cash, or angry smiley emoji away. The app also allows users to search similar documents to find additional relevant emojis, giving them a greater understanding of their case data. Their rise in popularity makes QMobile Insight that much more valuable as lawyers can use relevant emojis to craft a more holistic case for their client.  

Inside Counsel recently sat down with Yaniv Schiff, Director of Digital Forensics, QDiscovery, who shared insight into the application and how it’s impacting legal proceedings, and Helen Geib, QDiscovery’s General Counsel/Practice Support Consultant, who shared insight on the app’s impact from a litigation perspective. 

“As any teenager will attest, emojis are becoming a form of communication in and of themselves,” said Schiff. “The ability to easily search, review and code text messages within the same discovery environment as emails and edocs is advantageous for many reasons, not least because it’s simply more efficient and cost-effective to have all your data in one place. No potentially relevant data should be overlooked, whether in the form of words or emojis.”

Today, emojis are appearing more in litigation simply because they are appearing more in day to day communications. Emojis are frequently used to emote certain emotional reactions or responses, and can also be used instead of words as a form of shorthand. So, while the significance or implications of certain emojis are open for interpretation, they should not be overlooked during discovery.

The standard solution for reviewing mobile device data has been multiple spreadsheets and PDF reports, often thousands of pages long, generated by Cellebrite or another forensic collection software, per Schiff. These include a separate section for each communication type and require manual review, which is cumbersome and time-consuming—and finding emojis in this sea of data is difficult. But, QMobile Insight makes it possible to load mobile device data into Relativity and take advantage of all the capabilities of the platform. With the data in a structured format, it can be imported into review tools like Relativity. It’s far easier to search, review and produce when all the data is in one place. Just as important, analytics, searching and other discovery workflows can now be used, allowing the review team to find and investigate patterns in the mobile data, including recognizing emojis and being able to search for similar documents to find related text messages.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that many people now write text messages and emails in a hybrid language of English and emoji,” explained Geib. “This is commonplace in personal messaging and is even true in many business communications. Lawyers need to be able to ‘keyemoji’ search in the same way they use keyword searches.”

So, how can lawyers use relevant emojis to craft a more holistic case for their client?

No one would think of collecting and reviewing only the first half of an email, or of withholding a relevant communication solely because it was a one-word reply. However, according to Geib, by ignoring or, worse, excluding emojis from review and production lawyers risk doing just that. From the smiley face on, emojis have been used to indicate the tone of a communication. It’s critical to take emojis into account whenever intent is at issue, such as in employment cases.

She said, “Emojis are increasingly used as word substitutes, especially in messaging, and for that reason are potentially relevant in every case. Put simply, emojis carry meaning just like words do. Like words, they must be reviewed and assessed for their relevance to the case.”

Contributing Author

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Amanda Ciccatelli

Amanda G. Ciccatelli is a Freelance Journalist for InsideCounsel, where she covers intellectual property, legal technology, patent litigation, cybersecurity, innovation, and more. She earned a B.A....

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