It’s hard to argue the beauty and power of Excel as a tool for Litigation Support. The vast number of functions available make it a fantastic starting point for any changes you have to make to data. Whether you’re editing a load file, creating an index, preparing a report, or making your database more functional – there is a way to accomplish almost every task in Excel.
With so many great functions, there is one that gets used in almost all of my data manipulations: Concatenate. This function has so many functions (see what I did there?) that once you learn to use it, you’ll find yourself going back to it all the time.
Concatenate joins strings of data or text together. This is incredibly helpful when you want to create information-rich fields that simplify reporting. Consider for example, a field that identifies whether a document is a parent or attachment, and the number of attachments to that document. Currently, the data exists across 2 separate fields, but paring them makes review quick and easy and saves on precious screen real estate. And let’s be honest, screen real estate might not quite match the San Francisco housing market, but it’s right up there in value.
Or consider a situation where you want to make reviewing Near Duplicate data easier than ever, so there is no question about how to interpret it. Using Concatenate, you can easily create content rich fields that can be loaded back to the database to make the user experience more streamlined.
Now, users can confidently search the Joined ND Data field for “Dup 100” and know that they are seeing all 100% similar near duplicate documents. Or when they are doing their review, having this one field displayed will give them even clearer information than the individual fields could provide. (Hint: It can be really helpful to name these types of fields created for ease-of-use or saving screen real estate to something like “Users_NearDup” so users don’t have to go digging through the 100s of fields that exist in your workspace. It won’t be helpful if they can’t find it!)
RIGHT, LEFT, MID
But what if you have the opposite problem, and you have data that you need to extract from a field? That’s where the trusty Right, Left and Mid functions come in. These functions return text from the Right, Left or Middle of a string. For example, in the list below, the file extensions can be extracted using the Right function.
The Mid function is even more powerful, as it can extract data from inside of the middle of a text string. In the example below, the Doc ID is extracted from a file path field.
Functions can seem tricky at first. The best way to learn is to practice, and talk through what you’re trying to achieve so you can break it down in steps. It won’t be long before you’re able to string together a number of functions inside functions to bend the data to your will.#LitigationSupportoreDiscovery#PracticeManagementandPracticeSupport#Firm#ProfessionalDevelopment#Microsoft#NewtoLegal