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Emojis & eDiscovery: What Lawyers Need to Know

Rebecca Cronin 07 / 17 / 20

If you’re in-house at a large corporation, chances are you spend most of your time — or would like to spend most of your time — delivering strategic legal advice to your business stakeholders, and driving real business value for the organization.So when it comes to electronic discovery — the process of collecting, processing, reviewing, and producing documents and information for discovery during a litigation, investigation, or regulatory review — the nitty gritty details can feel like something that should simply be outsourced.

Emojis & eDiscovery: What Lawyers Need to Know


Today, building a case based on the review of emails and other electronic communications has become commonplace, and most review teams have gotten comfortable with the process. Newer sources of information including text messages, instant messaging and even social media feeds are now starting to emerge on the eDiscovery scene, and these come with many new challenges. Collection, processing and review often require new tools and new workflows, but many vendors have some form of solution for these. The bigger challenge is the language and characters used. Emojis, on the other hand, are a whole other minefield.

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1Key takeaways from the white paper.

The origins of the emoji. What is an emoji?

Emojis and electronic discovery

The legal emoji translation challenge


Emojis & eDiscovery: What Lawyers Need to Know covers the basics of defining what an emoji is and their role in case law, electronic discovery, and the challenges of legal translation. 


5 billion

number of emojis that are sent daily on Facebook Messenger


Emojis are on the rise.

While emoji use would traditionally have been limited to personal communications, they are slowly creeping into the accepted lexicon. This has inevitably led to an increase in the use of emojis in more professional or business-relation communications, and ultimately in their appearance in documents relied on in court.

3The emoji translation challenge

The interpretation of emojis vary widely depending on the context and also on the individuals in question. It’s often described as a dialect, but it can be geographical, age-related, based on social circles, or a combination. That leaves it very much open to lawyers to argue the implied intent when using such messages in court.


About the author

Rebecca Cronin
Rebecca Cronin

Rebecca Cronin is Director of Technical Solutions at Legility, with more than a decade of experience in the fields of eDiscovery and legal technology. She advises clients on the development and implementation of strategies employing technology in litigation, investigation, regulatory and compliance. She holds a masters degree in information security and computer forensics from the University of East London, and an honors degree in computer engineering from the University of Limerick. She is a Relativity Master.

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