Litigation Support Database Coding

One of the terms we use in litigation support is “coding”. Coding refers to putting information into database fields (which we refer to as “populating”) manually, one document at a time.

There are some service providers that provide this service. They have a room full of “coders”. We pay them per document to complete the coding for us. Some paralegals will perform the database coding themselves if they have time.

There are two categories of database coding and there are some standard rules that we follow when performing database coding.

Category 1 – Objective Coding (also called Bibliographic Coding)

This type of coding refers to information that is gleaned from the face of the document without requiring any decision analysis.

Some examples of objective coding fields would be the Bates Number, Document Date, Author, Folder Name and the Page Amount. There is nothing to consider, it is what it is.

Category 2 – Subjective Coding

This type of coding requires a thought process or a judgement call and the result can differ depending on who is making the decision.

Some examples of subjective coding fields would be Document Summary, Deposition Witness or Case Specific Issues.

We use database coding when we have hardcopy documents that were scanned which means we don't have any metadata to search or sort. For instance, one important need is giving the legal team an easy way to sort the document by date, thus putting them in chronological order.

We occasionally use database coding for electronic documents in cases where the metadata fields are inaccurate.




  1. Thanks for the coding breakdown! It’s been awhile since I had to do any kind of manual coding but sooner or later, it’s bound to be needed again. It’s good to know that there is a place to go, like your site, to find real-life working definitions, not just for coding, but bunches of other litigation support terms too. I’ve found your site to be a reliable primary resource for getting understandable definitions of terms as well as concepts common in the daily life of a litigation support professional.

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