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Are the Machines Taking Over eDiscovery?

Jul 24, 2018

A common misconception is that advances in eDiscovery software, automation, and artificial intelligence will eventually replace the need for many legal professionals. One of the first perceived battle grounds between man and machine in eDiscovery came with the acceptance and adoption of technology assisted review (TAR) by courts and a large percentage of the legal community over time. However, TAR and other AI technologies utilized in eDiscovery today still require human inputs and attorney review, training, and analysis to help identify and streamline the review of potentially relevant documents. A more tempered approach to the rise of technology in the legal industry is to say that it has vastly improved the work product and accuracy of legal professionals and made it possible for attorneys and litigation support professionals to keep pace with the exponential growth in electronically stored information.

From personal experience as a document review attorney more than a decade ago, I can remember combing through thousands of email communications with very little relevancy to the matters at hand. Emails about office potlucks, football pools, and endless spam vastly outnumbered the few relevant emails that popped up, making these easy to miss after countless hours sifting through the junk. In contrast, today’s technology has allowed eDiscovery providers to more quickly find relevant communications that require human review and get them in front of experienced review attorneys. This is good news because the quantity of those relevant communications has also increased exponentially, from thousands of documents to tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands within source populations of millions, tens of millions, or hundreds of millions of electronic communications. The incorporation of technological solutions into the legal profession has also opened the door for attorneys and legal professionals to evolve into legal technologists on the leading edge of technology-driven solutions.

A hot topic with eDiscovery software providers like Relativity is automation of some of the tedious manual tasks that are handled within eDiscovery platforms. Tasks that seem as simple as ingesting data can often be cumbersome endeavors that tie up valuable professional service resources which could more effectively be deployed in consulting, strategizing, and analyzing results. Some examples include running an index, running pre-defined term sets across new data, tagging documents that are ingested, creating review batches, or creating random samples of document sets. These manual tasks can bog providers down and hold up release of document populations for review on urgent matters.

As legal technology software continues to improve with innovative eDiscovery software solutions, leading edge eDiscovery service providers have begun to evolve into top notch professional service companies, employing expert contract attorneys and project managers to help guide law firms and corporations in the most effective use of available technologies and resources. In other words, the human element has become even more important and valuable to help differentiate eDiscovery providers utilizing many of the same technologies. The work of litigation support professionals and project managers has moved from the role of task masters and button pushers to high-level expert consultants that help strategize and provide creative technology-based solutions, supplementing the legal departments of their clients and acting as an extension of law firm and corporate legal teams.

Contact the CDS Advisory Services team to discuss how we can streamline your next eDiscovery project.

About the Author

Kate Hutchinson

Kate Hutchinson

As the Director of Marketing, Kate Hutchinson takes a collaborative and creative approach to marketing, working with stakeholders across departments to convey the benefits of CDS’s solutions. She holds a BA from Rutgers University and is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society.