Don’t Jump the Gun with Predictive Coding

Future of predictive coding
Global Aerospace Inc. et al., v. Landow Aviation, L.P. dba Dulles Jet Center, et al.

Results are in from the first case where a judge mandated the use of predictive coding, despite initial objections from the plaintiff that the technology is not as effective as human review. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports predictive coding used in the case found 81% of relevant documents.

The ABA Journal compares these results to the 60% accuracy rate for human reviewers estimated by a 2011 Richmond Journal of Law & Technology article. Some claim the comparison proves the superiority not only of this particular review technique, but also of artificial intelligence over lawyers.

This conclusion might be jumping the smoking gun, literally. What if the most relevant data is contained in the missing 19%? Initially, the Global plaintiff argued that all relevant evidence must be produced, which is, after all, the goal of defensible discovery.

Predictive coding, also known as Technology Assisted Review (TAR) and Computer Assisted Review (CAR), is a very new review method. Contrary to what eDiscovery headlines may lead you to believe, TAR is currently used by only a small portion of the legal community. Industry standards are not set, and there is little agreement about when and how it should be used. This disagreement can lead to expensive and often futile negotiations with opposing counsel.

When predictive coding is employed, a team of highly-paid human experts, specializing in statistics, law and technology, must train the computer in what is relevant by coding a sampling of documents (in the Global case, 5,000 documents). The coding is then applied to the rest of the documents to determine relevancy. If the initial sample is not correctly coded, the results will be drastically inaccurate. Therefore, human intelligence is still essential to the process.

In addition, Global is a single case with a relatively small sample size. Even if predictive coding continues to provide consistent, reliable results, it is not a one-size-fits-all approach for document review. If it is widely adopted in the future, predictive coding will never replace other search technologies or human intelligence; it will simply be another option in your litigation toolkit.

In most cases, a carefully planned discovery process combined with a multimodal search approach yields the most accurate results for the least cost.

Drawbacks of predictive coding

  • Small mistakes early in coding can create false positives and miss relevant documents.
  • Accidental disclosure of privileged information is more likely.
  • For the sake of transparency, CAR/TAR/predictive coding often requires disclosure of all non-privileged training documents and coding to opposing counsel, regardless of relevancy. How much do you want opposing counsel to know?
  • The cost of predictive coding/CAR/TAR negotiations can cancel out any savings the approach might otherwise generate.
  • Predictive coding/CAR/TAR only makes sense for extremely large sets of ESI. How big is your data?

Technology should be used to reduce review volume, not to replace human review. Human intelligence cannot be fully automated. A concept-clustering search approach combines the best of human and artificial intelligence.

Contact a WarRoom litigation support consultant to help you determine the strategy that minimizes your risk and cost.

Don’t Forget About Paper Discovery

Average American consumes 5.57 forty foot trees of paper per year.
Even as electronic data grows, so does our use of paper. According to The Economist, the average American uses the paper equivalent of almost six 40-foot trees per year. The EPA reports that the average office worker generates approximately 2 pounds of paper and paper products every day. We’re a long way from realizing the paperless office.

Since paper plays such an important role in business operations, make sure you don’t forget about it when planning your litigation discovery. If you fail to produce relevant paper evidence simply because it wasn’t integrated with your eDiscovery tool, you could face sanctions or even adverse inferences. Make sure that your paper discovery process is defensible.

There are some advantages to a traditional, paper-based approach to discovery. Analysis of paper documents can make it easier to conceptualize your case and develop strategy because paper documents are sometimes more organized than their electronic counterparts. Better understanding your discoverable evidence and your case early on saves you money down the road.

No Document Left Behind

In order for a paper discovery approach to be useful, scanned or copied documents must be clear and legible, and meet your deadlines. Look for a legal document service that conducts page-by-page quality assurance and provides rush delivery. Your litigation document needs can be quite complicated, and should not be handled by the average local print shop. From Bates stamping to specialized tabs, legal document production requires a litigation support provider who understands court requirements.

Not only do your documents need to be error-free, they also must be secure. Almost all discoverable evidence is confidential in nature, and much of it is single source. If it is lost or destroyed, it can’t be replaced. Some evidence is so sensitive it is only available for processing for a short time. Original and confidential documents must be brought to a secure facility and processed as quickly as possible.

Perhaps you’ve received a disc of evidence prepped for Concordance or Summation, but you prefer to use a paper-based discovery approach. Entrust your blowback to a qualified litigation support team. Your litigation support provider converts Electronically Stored Information (ESI) back into paper by returning single file pages to a multipage format, in the correct order. You don’t waste time printing each page individually and the end result is a reviewable paper document.

Evidence doesn’t always fit conveniently in an 11” by 17” rectangle. Most copiers aren’t large enough to accommodate oversize maps or building plans. When you have large documents, call a legal document service with the equipment necessary to professionally handle your scanning or copying job.

Traditional Discovery Isn’t Just About Scanning

Document scanning, copying and printing are vital components of your litigation preparation, but don’t stop there. While paper discovery has some advantages, it can also be time consuming. From electronic labeling to Optical Character Recognition (OCR), technology helps you tame your paper discovery.

Review is the most expensive aspect of discovery, but there are ways to minimize cost, even when taking a traditional discovery approach. OCR allows scanned images of text to be recognized as text and thereby searchable and editable. Once a document is OCRed, it can be indexed and tagged, saving you money in review time. Bibliographical coding for “to” “from” and “bcc” fields allows a searching capacity identical to an eDiscovery tool. Coding large volumes costs just pennies on the document, and cuts down on the overall size and cost of your discovery project by making searches more efficient.

Scanned documents can be uploaded to any document database, including Concordance. If you choose to use an eDiscovery review solution, your uploaded paper documents can be reviewed with the same software tool as your electronic documents, integrating your paper and electronic evidence for more efficient analysis. Hosted review ensures a safe and defensible storage location for your discoverable data.

WarRoom Document Solutions offers full-service traditional and electronic discovery. Cost varies depending on the size and scope of your project. Our litigation support team works with you to assess your project’s needs. Our 19 years in the legal document industry allows us to give you an accurate cost estimate, which helps prevent discovery sticker shock.

Call us at 1-855-WarRoom today to learn how our Boston or Providence litigation support consultants can help with your paper or electronic discovery needs.