Machine Learning Algorithms Making the E-Discovery Process Much Less Painful

Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence which evolved from the study of pattern recognition. Through the construction of algorithms, machines can make predictions on data versus following preprogrammed commands. What’s more, these algorithms can make independent decisions when new data is applied. As computer processing power improves, this technology can be applied to much larger data sets for reliable, repeatable results. This is the technology behind self-driving cars, fraud detection and data mining for online advertising.

The legal field has also found an application for machine learning algorithms to reduce the cost of document review.  Specifically, these algorithms have been applied to doc review solutions such as; Computer Assisted Review, Technology Assisted Review (TAR), and predictive coding. The growth of email and storing of documents electronically, gave rise to the e-discovery industry in the early 2000’s.  The exponential data growth is outpacing the traditional e-discovery methodology of filtering/searching to reduce data sets for review hosting. Pressure to reduce these costs, including pricey attorney review hours, had solution providers looking around for an answer. The potential application of TAR to legal document discovery quickly made it the industry “holy grail”. However, TAR solutions for e-discovery were mostly limited to industry conference circuits and talking heads. By 2012 the technology had matured enough begin to deliver on its promise to revolutionize doc review with a reliable alternative to traditional attorney review.

As technology advances, so does the expectations of courts when handling electronic documents. Judges now have little leniency for incomplete preservation or collection efforts, which has changed since the early 2000’s. Assuming a proper legal hold was in place, attorneys and third party providers are expected to provide all relevant email, user created e-docs, and associated metadata. If not, they face possible sanctions. Similarly, judges are just starting to push firms to use TAR to conserve legal spending resources, versus limiting discovery due to data volume. One example of a court ordered use of automated coding in a federal case occurred very recently. Judge Peck, from the United States Southern District Court of New York, in the case of Da Silva Moore v. Publicic Groupe et al., ordered litigants to use computer assisted review instead of only using keyword searches. He reasoned there was a likelihood of fewer mistakes in the document review process using this new technology since it could quickly recognize relevant information that simple keyword searching would miss. The future of machine learning is not only focused on reducing cost, but it also has the ability to push technology review past the limits of keyword filters.

This technology is not perfect or 100% accurate, but neither is attorney review. The biggest benefit on the horizon for law firms and their clients will be the application of TAR to an initial “first pass” review of docs. This removes the unnecessary hourly rates of young associates or doc review centers, who review data relevant to the case, or privileged communications. Removing this low hanging fruit conserves attorney billable hours for the more complex review issues of e-discovery. The attorneys benefit from avoiding doc intensive cases that take up a lot of their time, leaving bandwidth for other matters.

Discovery Dilemmas of Mobile Device Privacy

The convenience and functionality of mobile phones, tablets, and laptops enable our content hungry lives. Each year, we become more dependent on constant use of mobile devices to keep up with our professional and personal lives.  Mobile technology is so ingrained in our daily life, we use it to shop, email, search the web, navigate, take pictures, engage in social media, and of course call/text our friends and family.  Even with saturation we seldom consider how this information could affect electronic discovery and litigation.

The rush to put the world at our fingertips has ignored potential risks this increased connectivity might cause in the world of litigation discovery. Forensic collection and e-discovery continues to be complicated as a result of personal devices in the workplace. Mobile device technology might be on the cutting edge, but the legal industry is constantly evolving to catch up.

From a security and liability standpoint, mobile devices in the workplace can seem like a no-win scenario. To reduce costs, many companies choose a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy. This route can expose these companies to the security risks of unsecured and unmonitored devices in close proximity to sensitive company data. Using personal devices for, or at work, exposes employees to the risk of their phones’ contents being reviewed during document review. More often than not, the freedom and comfort or your personal device is not offset by this level of privacy intrusion.

Other companies choose the COPE (Company Owned, Personally Enabled) policy option, and provide phones to their employees. The greater control over the devices reduces the security risk, but creates other problems when employees use the devices to post to social media, sync personal email accounts, and engage in offensive communication not in line with company views.

Information governance needs to be a priority when thinking about how to best handle personal devices in the workplace in order to reduce confusion in electronic discovery. Moreover, the concept of BYOD leaves the question of how to know which and how many devices might have accessed the corporate network.  All this to consider and we haven’t even begun to chat about Pokemon Go!

Wearable Technology eDiscovery Considerations

What exactly is wearable tech? Wearable technology encompasses accessories that can be worn by a consumer and is meant to aid with everyday life. Wearable tech can be as simple as a Fitbit that tracks your steps towards a fitness goal or as complex as Google Glass removing the need to use our hands in the future of computing. The designs of wearable technology contain practical functions and features that can be beneficial, futuristic, and just plain fun. While they are fun for end users, they create as many electronic discovery conundrums as their predecessors email and text messaging did when they were new.

Wearable tech is just another source of user created data, much like email & text messaging. Fitbit steps/physical activity certainly may be relevant in cases involving personal injury, medical mal practice, and in the process of litigation support. As an example, Fitbit was the difference of a case in Florida when a woman attempted to call 911 to report sexual assault. Her Fitbit proved to the court that she was in fact walking around and staging the crime at the time that she claimed that she was sleeping. Typically, courts and third party technology always face a learning curve when trying to apply electronic discovery rules to new tech toys with the potential to store a custodian’s data. Wearable tech is no different and the full impact on eDiscovery and litigation is yet to be seen.

How personal is your data stored in wearable tech? What is the difference between the steps on your FitBit, versus more complex user created documents housed in Google Glass? Before attorneys can deal with reviewing the data sources, the litigation support industry will need to finalize the standardization of wearable tech forensic collection. While we may not get the answer today, these potential privacy issues are sure to sort themselves out in courtrooms across the country. In the interim, any risk/reward that might be associated with the use of wearable technology, needs to be on the radar of legal teams everywhere.


TERIS Announces Their East Coast Expansion

(ARIZONA), USA, July 6, 2016 – TERIS is a world-class services provider to leading law firms and corporate legal departments nationally. Through the strategic deployment of Tier 1 industry technology. TERIS consistently delivers efficient, defensible and scalable eDiscovery solutions. TERIS is excited to announce its expansion to the East Coast to better serve their current and future clients.
While the rest of the industry is caught in a wave of acquisitions and rebranding, TERIS is continues to grow organically. This is a product of executive level stability, foresight, and reputation dating back to the company’s inceptions in 1996.
TERIS has long had a strong presence on the East Coast, which has led them to spring board their new offices in New York and Washington D.C and Wilmington, Delaware.
A spokesperson of TERIS said, “We are absolutely thrilled about the east coast expansion of our company. We are appreciative of the welcome we have received, and we will definitely continue to work hard to be successful partners to all of our clients.”
To see the services and regions TERIS supports, please visit or by contacting their support at
“Our growth is a reflection of referrals to new clients who have heard about our services from their colleagues. Our teams are ready and presently on ground in DC, NY, and DE. We are excited, and we know that all our clients on the east coast will be pleased with the services we have to offer” the spokesperson concluded.
To know more about TERIS and the services they provide, visit –

Cell Phone Encryption: A Look at the Pros and Cons

With the recent news coverage and debate that’s been taking place between the FBI and Apple,
the topic of cell phone encryption is more common and talked about than ever before. Many
individuals and companies alike are spending time thinking about whether or not it is a good
idea to encrypt cell phones. Do the pros of encryption outweigh the potential cons, or vice
versa? Sure, the information is protected in a more substantial way than ever before, but what
about the risk that exists when an employee refuses to hand over the encryption password to
their employer regarding a company cell phone?

With the ever rising discussion about this topic, we thought we would put in our two cents as
well by outlining the pros and cons of cell phone and mobile device encryption.
One of the most obvious benefits of mobile device encryption is the extent to which potentially
sensitive information is protected. If the encrypted device falls into the wrong hands, the owner
of the device can be sure that the data will not be used for unwanted purposes. The owner of
that particular mobile device can be assured that the thief will be unable to access important or
personal information on the phone. This becomes especially important if the device is used for
sensitive work related purposes.

Having said that, choosing to use encryption could cause a problem for the company later down
the line. If an employer grants a work-purpose mobile device to an employee, it is important that
the employer be confident in the ethical standards of the employee. It is too often the case that
a work related mobile device is taken advantage of and, with encryption in place, the employer
can do absolutely nothing about it.

In addition to these considerations, individuals thinking about whether or not to encrypt their
devices should also keep in mind that the encryption itself is a time-consuming process that can
affect the performance of the device. Users can expect to notice a slower-running system
because of the resources required for encryption.

Lastly, if you are thinking about whether or not encryption is right for you, it is best to be
completely certain in your decision. Mobile device encryption is a one way process that cannot
easily be undone with current technology. However, for the right circumstances, this process is
one that can be highly beneficial in protecting valuable data.

Everything You Need To Know About The Arkfeld Conference 2016

One of the most important digital conferences in Arizona will be starting shortly. The ASU-Arkfeld eDiscovery and Digital Evidence Conference will take place in the Armstrong Hall on March 9-11, 2016, making it the fifth to date The three exciting days at ASU campus in Tempe will include stimulating information about the newest issues affecting electronic information, information governance and data analytics.

So what is The Arkfeld Conference? If you haven’t been following the latest news, The Arkfeld Conference is an annual conference taking place at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. It is a Program run by attorney, author and educator, Michael Arkfeld, who believes that digital advances are very important to law professionals. William Kellerman describes Arkfeld as the ”intersection of law and technology”, in order to ensure effective education and competency among legal professionals.

Last year’s conference attracted over 150 professionals, including attorneys, service providers and counsel. The theme of ”Know the Law, Know the Technology” discussed a variety of eDiscovery issues and allowed a wide array of ideas and valuable networking opportunities for those attending.

At the fifth annual conference, Arkfeld has undertaken the theme, ”Respect the Past. Understand the Present. Shape the Future.” It will be intriguing to see exactly what technological advances will take place in order to shape the future. Some of the highlights advertised by Arkfeld include mock demonstrations on eDiscovery, as well as insights from some of this year’s featured speakers.

This is where we will be hearing from some interesting voices, including U.S. District Judges Shira Scheindlin of New York, Craig B. Shaffer of Colarado, and Xavier Rodriguez of Texas. Furthermore, we’ll be hearing insights from Technologist Steve Watson from Intel Corporation and the Associate Dean of WP Carey School of Business at ASU, Michael Goul. TERIS continues to be a long time sponsor of the Arkfeld Conference.

To register:

Make Sense of Ever-Growing Amounts of Data with Analytics

The sheer volume of data is exploding, so much so that a puny one gigabyte of storage on one lowly flash drive could produce up to 100,000 pages of printed material. The data generated worldwide already has surpassed enough printed pages to stretch from the sun to Pluto and back. And by 2020, the world’s data could boom to 44 times what it is now.

If those statistics aren’t startling enough, John Hartman has more. The greatest percentage of all that data comes in electronic formats. Worse yet, some 50 to 70 percent of any organization’s data is redundant, outdated or trivial data that has no economic value.

The data explosion makes data analytics no longer a luxury for attorneys involved in litigation, but an absolute necessity, maintains Hartman, the principal of TERIS Texas. With analytics, he notes, lawyers can take fewer actions and still get more results.

“Having that much data in your pool and the cost associated with handling that data from a litigation standpoint requires you to have some knowledge about that data, and analytics provides information from the data,” Hartman said.

Hartman addressed the issue of using analytics to manage data in recent presentations to corporate attorneys, law-firm attorneys and judges at Legal Tech Texas and the Memphis/Mid-South Chapter of the Federal Bar Association 2015 Annual Seminar. His topic was “Applying Analytics: Effective and Efficient Data Management in Litigation and Beyond.”

Despite the data boom, Hartman notes, only 28 percent of organizations say they are attempting to instigate practices to better “govern” their data, and only 10 percent say their efforts have been effective.

“If you’re not using methods/technology on the front end to give you information about your data and if we go back to statistics that imply the majority of corporate data is, either riddled with ROT (redundant, outdated or trivial), or not structured in a way that allows for precise recall, you find yourself in a poor position to best control related expenses, budget, make strategic decisions and defend one of your most valuable corporate assets—your data,” he said.

So where is an efficient, effective attorney to start in discovery?

Three ‘buckets’ of discovery analytics

Hartman sees three types, or buckets, of discovery analytics for attorneys to consider, either alone or in combinations:

  • Structured analytics. These tools group documents based on their similarities in text andorganization, putting a basic structure around and providing information about the unknown data. Grouping email threads and identifying near duplicates are examples of structured analytics. Think of it as a basic portal to information, providing statistics about and organization for unorganized data.
  • Concept analytics. These tools expand beyond typical keyword searches to retrieve related items, helping attorneys find the meaning of content within a dataset. Concept clustering, concept searching and keyword expansion are examples of concept analytics. Such analytics are helpful in positioning a legal case, understanding potentially relevant material and determining a more accurate budget that will minimize costs while keeping a case defensible.
  • Predictive analytics. These tools start with an attorney weeding out unneeded documents from a subset of documents, then training the computer, usually in several iterations, to mimic the decisions and statistically “predict” how to properly code the rest of the documents. Such analytics are especially useful with very large data sets, where putting attorneys’ eyes on everything would be cost-prohibitive.

Using such analytics, attorneys can obtain dashboard-like overviews including of the number of documents that are originals, duplicates or near-duplicates; the top terms in the documents; and the top senders and recipients of documents. Analytics also can help attorneys zoom in or zoom out for data-map views of the results, just as Google Earth users can zoom in on specific geographic locations or zoom out to see a broader, less detailed context.

“The bottom line is, the brute-force approach is no longer feasible,” Hartman said. The cost savings in discovery and the success in defensibility make analytics a necessity, not a luxury, today.

Three ways to use analytics

Hartman also sees three areas of litigation where analytics can be applied:

  • Pre-case assessment. Before filing or responding to a case, lawyers can use analytics to investigate the data and determine a “go or no-go” strategy. They can explore the concepts and communications among people involved, and determine whether more data needs to be collected. As they better understand the material involved, they can more accurately set their budgets for the case.
  • Review. Increasing speed and accuracy helps manage the most expensive part of discovery. Clustering documents with similar characteristics can help reviewers look at the documents more efficiently. Following email threads can minimize the time spent looking over entire sets of emails. Mass tagging of duplicates reduces the number of documents needing review.
  • Production. Lawyers can use the same analytics tools they used on their client’s data to gain insight into the opposing side’s data. They can sort the opposing side’s data into categories, run concept searches to find any “smoking guns” and gain the ability to review data better than the opponents did.

To illustrate ROI and time savings that analytics can generate, Hartman points to what he calls a very typical case study. A litigation that starts with the potential review of some 254,000 documents can run a basic analytics tool to identify “content” exact duplicates, like a PDF version of a Word document with the very same content. Hash value “de-duping” is not the same as content-based exact duplicate identification, which analytics provides. In the example above, “hash value” de-duping had already occurred during the initial data processing, the content exact duplicates are generated by text that matches exactly, regardless of file type. A lawyer looking at a document can now see if any documents are content exact duplicates and bulk tag all the documents with one key stroke. In this case, what would have been a review cost of more than $203,000 came down to about $181,000, and what would have been more than 35 days of review time came down to some 29 days of review.

Using analytics obviously has several benefits. In particular, Hartman points out its ability to reduce the number of files that need to be reviewed—a critical benefit, considering that discovery can cost about $20,000 per gigabyte of data, with review eating approximately $18,000 of this number. The use of analytics also increases consistency across the review process, compared to review by multiple human beings. The tool also helps law firms in their marketing efforts, since technology gives small firms a bigger footprint than they otherwise would have and helps them market their services to new clients.

TERIS plays a variety of roles in helping its clients with analytics. The firm provides analytics as a service, and it also can consult with firms considering buying their own analytics software. Because TERIS partners with the top software providers instead of developing its own analytics software, Hartman says TERIS serves as an unbiased, technology-agnostic partner to the legal community.

New Federal Rules on Civil Procedure will make analytics even more important. The new rules address the need for proportionality, in which the understanding gained from documents is expected to be proportional to the dollars spent on examining them. Analytics, Hartman says, will help lawyers avoid breaking their clients’ budgets and avoid clogging the courts with weak cases.

The bottom line

Hartman offers these takeaways for attorneys seeking to get their arms around the explosion in data and make better use of analytics:

  • Get in the game. Anyone not already using the many analytics tools available is behind.
  • Test everything. Corporate clients, especially, should formally evaluate discovery software before buying it, including understanding upcoming advances and the technology roadmaps. Once they have the technology, they must commit to keeping it current.
  • Dig deep. Look at the long term, not just at how a minimal level of technology can get attorneys through a short-term deadline.

“We have so much data, and we have lawyers who are banging their heads up against the wall, and clients who are trying to control costs, and courts who are trying to get proportional,” Hartman said. “In corralling this data monster, analytics is a tool that becomes something you really need to have in your tool belt.”

TERIS Joins Solutionary Inc.’s Channel Partner Program, Expands Services with Data Security for Law Firms and Corporations

AUSTIN, Texas (Sept. 9, 2015) – TERIS, the legal support services firm with offices in Texas and Arizona, is joining Solutionary Inc.’s channel partner program and expanding its service offering to include industry-leading information security for law firms and corporations.

Solutionary is a NTT Group security company (NYSE: NTT) and the next-generation managed security services provider. Headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, Solutionary is a leader in delivering managed security services including targeted threat intelligence and professional security services.

As law firms and corporations struggle to protect and secure their own data and their clients’ data, TERIS said it recognized an important opportunity to partner with Solutionary and continue providing clients with exceptional service that addresses their information challenges. With defensibility at the core of all TERIS service offerings, the new partnership with Solutionary enables TERIS to extend its offerings in information governance with security services designed to evaluate clients’ threat landscape and monitor clients’ IT infrastructure.

“Our goal is to respond to our client’s data security needs by helping them understand their risks and implementing proper and defensible processes to address those risks,” said Michael Frazier, director of strategic initiatives at TERIS. “We recognize Solutionary as the leader in next-generation managed-security services and as an expert in security consulting, and we are excited to bring Solutionary’s leading expertise to our clients.”

TERIS, through its litigation pedigree and focus on defensible data practices, is well positioned to help law firms and corporate legal departments understand their information risks and manage information with lifecycle governance initiatives.

“We are very excited to have TERIS as a part of our strategic partner ecosystem,” said Lee Sher, VP of channel sales. “TERIS has a very unique and focused market approach that has established them as experts in the legal and compliance space. TERIS’ understanding of the specific requirements and challenges faced by corporate legal and law firms will allow Solutionary to expand measurably in this market segment.”


TERIS is a full-service, SOC2 Type II-certified, provider of litigation support solutions and information governance consulting. TERIS works with leading law firms and corporate legal departments to provide consultation-based solutions, state-of-the-art technologies and highly experienced project management. TERIS combines robust experience across a broad range of disciplines with a client-focused model, providing legal, risk and compliance professionals the best tools and support to assess case data efficiently and accurately, saving both time and money. Using top-tier tools for data ingestion and client-facing platforms, TERIS serves clients across the United States, and internationally, with defensible, economical solutions. TERIS also offers court reporting services and assistance with outsourcing attorney document review.

TERIS’ client retention rates are among the highest in the industry, supporting its philosophy that great culture retains excellent and skilled associates, who in turn deliver exceptional services to clients.

For more information about TERIS, visit our home page

About Solutionary Inc.

Solutionary, an NTT Group security company (NYSE: NTT), is the next-generation managed security services provider, focused on delivering managed security services, security consulting services and global threat intelligence. Comprehensive Solutionary security monitoring and security device management services protect traditional and virtual IT infrastructures, cloud environments and mobile data. Services are delivered 24/7 through multiple, state-of-the-art Security Operations Centers.

Solutionary clients are able to optimize current security programs, make informed security decisions, achieve regulatory compliance and reduce costs. The patented, cloud-based ActiveGuard® service platform uses multiple detection technologies and advanced analytics to protect against advanced threats. The Solutionary Security Engineering Research Team researches the global threat landscape, providing actionable threat intelligence, enhanced threat detection and mitigating controls. Experienced, certified Solutionary security experts act as an extension of clients’ internal teams, providing industry-leading client service to global enterprise and mid-market clients in a wide range of industries, including financial services, health care, retail and government.

For more information about Solutionary, go to

TERIS Challenges Phoenix-Area Law Firms to ‘Object to Hunger’ during September food drive

PHOENIX (Aug. 25, 2015) – Metro Phoenix law firms have their best opportunity of the year to combat hunger in Arizona as TERIS launches its third annual “Object to Hunger” Food Drive benefiting St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance.

The “Object to Hunger” campaign challenges Valley law firms to raise the most food and cash donations and help St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance feed the one in five Arizonans who live in poverty. The drive is sponsored by TERIS, a litigation support services firm with offices in Phoenix, Ariz., and in Austin, Texas. Co-sponsoring this year’s drive are the Document Control Group of Ryley Carlock & Applewhite in Phoenix and Ipro Tech LLC legal-software firm in Tempe, Ariz.

The food drive and friendly competition among firms will run Sept. 7 to 25 during Hunger Action Month.

“Community service is a core value of TERIS, and we are impressed by the Phoenix legal community’s participation in ‘Object to Hunger,’ ” said Richard Saldivar, Arizona/Texas principal of TERIS. “Their enthusiasm for this project is inspiring, and we at TERIS are proud to help them tackle the important issue of fighting hunger in our state.”

TERIS’s Phoenix office launched the “Object to Hunger” Food Drive in fall of 2013 to benefit Phoenix-based St. Mary’s Food Bank, the world’s first food bank and one of the largest in the United States. In its first two years, “Object to Hunger” raised more than 114,000 meals during what is normally a slow time of year for much-needed donations to the food bank.

This year’s competition aims to enlist at least 60 law firms in contributing at least 100,000 meals. Based on their levels of contributions, teams can earn one of four levels of “partner status” in the campaign. Winners will be chosen in two categories: most meals overall, and most meals per capita (based on the size of the company or firm.) Winners’ names will be engraved on a trophy.

Last year’s winners were the Phoenix law firm of Jones, Skelton & Hochuli for most meals overall; Frutkin Law Firm of Phoenix for most meals per capita; and Helene Fenlon PLC of Scottsdale for most meals per capita individual.

Every pound of food donated to St. Mary’s equals one meal that the food bank can distribute, and every dollar donated enables it to distribute seven meals. Items most needed for the food drive are beans; canned fruit and vegetables; canned soups, stews and chili; cereal; juice; pasta; peanut butter; rice and tuna. Other commonly needed items are diapers, household paper supplies, soap, shampoo and toothpaste.

To join the “Object to Hunger” campaign, request food donation boxes or make monetary contributions, law firms may contact Jolie Pauls of TERIS at 602-241-9333 or

About the sponsors


TERIS, with offices in Austin and Phoenix, serves corporate legal teams and law firms across the United States and internationally. It provides electronic discovery, information governance, computer forensics and other litigation support services. The firm is committed to community involvement, partnering with non-profit organizations to make a positive impact in the communities where its employees live and work. For more information about TERIS, visit

Document Control Group of Ryley Carlock & Applewhite, Phoenix, applies the principles of project management, quality assurance and technology optimization in providing solutions for discovery in litigation and information management and governance. Its clients range from the Fortune 50 to the Am Law 10, and everywhere in between. For more information about DCG, visit

Ipro Tech LLC, Tempe, is a global leader in the development of advanced software solutions used by legal professionals to streamline the discovery process. As an industry pioneer, Ipro combines decades of innovation to deliver high-performance software that reduces the cost and complexity of eDiscovery. Ipro has a worldwide network of corporations, law firms, government agencies and legal service providers that rely on its applications to address every stage of the litigation lifecycle efficiently and cost effectively. For more information about Ipro, visit

For more information about Mary’s Food Bank, visit

TERIS The Earlier You Start, the More Technology Can Cut the Costs of Discovery

The Earlier You Start, the More Technology Can Cut the Costs of Discovery

Discovery used to mean sending a small army of associate attorneys and paralegals to a warehouse to pour through boxes of paper documents and flag items to scan that might be relevant to pending litigation. The process could take hundreds of hours and rack up huge legal costs for a corporation or a law firm’s client.

The boom in electronic documents may well have changed that scenario for the worse, but the increasing availability of e-discovery tools may have changed it for the better. For perspective on how technology can help contain the high costs of discovery today, we talked to Michael Frazier, director of information governance at TERIS.

Q: What’s driving the rising interest in using technology to contain the costs of discovery?

A: When the recession hit and legal budgets were under particular scrutiny, finding ways to contain costs across the legal spectrum became very important. Discovery was an area that was ripe for the pickings. Technology was advancing quite quickly, and being able to use technology to reduce the number of documents that needed to have a human reviewer, or to reduce the amount of the time it took to find relevant information, became easier.

The volume of data, especially electronic data, is increasing exponentially, and it’s not slowing down any time soon. Discovery in general is one of the most expensive parts of litigation, and attorney review is the most expensive part of discovery. The more information you have to review because of the expanding data volumes, the more potential cost there is. It can be millions of dollars to have attorneys review documents. Being able to streamline and make that process more efficient is particularly important to companies involved in litigation.

Q: Which area do you see needing more attention – being proactive and using technology before discovery, or being reactive and using it during discovery?

A: I actually think there are three areas.

Proactively managing information — information governance is the term for that — is particularly needed because managing information effectively before you get to litigation is always going to be good for an organization. The adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” holds true. If you can spend the time and some money to manage information up front, if you can apply record-retention policies and schedules to defensively delete data that is ROT – redundant, outdated or trivial – you’ll have less data that potentially needs to be preserved, collected and reviewed if and when you get into litigation. Using technology to apply auto-classification and retention rules, dispose of information and find information — that’s the proactive information governance world.

The next piece, which is also proactive, would be litigation readiness or preparedness. This includes making sure that you have the proper discovery processes, such as a legal data map and litigation hold procedure, to help you identify repositories of information that will need to be preserved based on the underlying issues of the litigation. Technology can help to effectively and efficiently preserve identified information repositories. This puts you in position to do more targeted collection of potentially relevant information rather than wholesale sweeping preservations and collections.

Being reactive, once you’re in litigation, analytics tools like email threading, duplicate identification, concept clustering or technology-assisted review help make a review more efficient and contain costs that you’d otherwise spend on attorneys sitting and reviewing every single thing.

Q: How can corporate, in-house counsel adopt technology to cut discovery costs? Where should they start, and what makes the biggest impact?

A: In-house counsel has a particularly important role across the spectrum. From a corporate perspective, proactively managing information is a large goal, and it’s not just something within legal. If I were advising corporate counsel, I would say start with proactive information management and readiness initiatives that you can control. You can control implementing legal hold policies and implementing automated discovery processes to do preservation and collection, which necessarily includes cooperation from IT and other departments. By doing those first, you’re in a position to get quick wins that are potential pain points for legal, and you’re laying the foundation for cooperation across the organization for larger information governance initiatives, which in turn can also help cut discovery costs.

Every corporate legal group is going to have to evaluate its particular pain points. That will differ from corporation to corporation based on their litigation profile, regulatory profile, internal capabilities and goals for efficiency. In a litigation context, being able to effectively and efficiently identify, preserve and collect information is the area to look at for the potential for large impact. If a corporation doesn’t have a strong litigation or regulatory profile, discovery costs may not be a pain point. It might be something more business-focused like automating contract management.

Q: How can law firms adopt technology to cut discovery costs? Where should they start, and what makes the biggest impact?

A: I think there are two areas. One, law firms have the same issues as corporations, in that they have information that needs to be protected and secured.

Two, from a client information perspective, law firms need to understand the technology that is available and how to use it to provide their clients with, if not cost certainty then at least cost containment. They can do that through understanding what analytics tools are available, understanding review work flows and efficient management of reviewers. It’s also accepting that most clients aren’t going to want to pay $250 or $400 an hour for an associate to review documents when they can outsource it to contract attorneys at a fraction of the cost. It’s having those partnerships, knowing when to use them, and identifying areas that can be streamlined in that process that make an impact.

In my opinion, what makes the biggest difference is really learning new technologies and being comfortable using those new technologies. You need to know when to apply advanced analytic tools to quickly identify information that is potentially relevant and may bring about a quick resolution of the matter; and not spend a lot of time and money collecting and reviewing data that has no relevance to or impact on your case.

Q: Where does TERIS come in?

A: We are positioned to help both corporations and outside counsel on the whole spectrum.
Starting with information governance, we can provide an assessment to help corporations understand where they are in terms of information policies and procedures, to identify gaps and help shore up those gaps, to look at record retention programs and what technologies the corporation has in place, and help source technology if necessary.

A lot of corporations see technology as a silver bullet – “If we just buy an e-discovery tool or ECM system, it will fix all of our problems.” That really neglects the people, the process and the needs of corporate stakeholders. We can help them gain an understanding of those needs, help them put the policies and procedures in place to be more effective so that when they are looking at purchasing technology, they can do it in a way that makes the most sense for them.
We work with corporate clients on preservation and collection of information for litigation. We also work with corporations and outside counsel on processing data, hosting it for review, using state-of-the-art technologies and applying analytics tools to make the process more efficient. We work with law-firm attorneys to put work flows in place, whether for review or collection, making sure their production specifications are optimal so that when they meet with opposing counsel they know what they’re asking for and what they’ll be getting. We’re in position to affect all these areas.

The earlier we can be engaged in the process, the better off both corporations and law firms will be in terms of identifying information and knowing their capabilities. That’s proactive. When there is the potential for litigation, the sooner we can be involved in helping to identify, preserve and collect information, the better off we think everyone is. If we’re brought in later on, we pick up midstream just fine, but often we can identify areas that could have been handled more efficiently or more effectively had they been approached a little differently at the outset.

Q: What else would you tell attorneys about TERIS’ services?

A: We can positively impact litigation processes at all stages of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM). Anyone who has questions or just wants to gut-check their own processes, certainly we’re here to help them. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, you can’t get where you’re going if you don’t know where you are. You’ve got to have an understanding of the lay of the land before you can understand how best to move forward. We can provide an objective viewpoint to help gain that understanding.