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Tom O'Connor

eDiscovery for the Rest of Us: eDiscovery Best Practices

Editor’s Note: Tom O’Connor is a nationally known consultant, speaker, and writer in the field of computerized litigation support systems.  He has also been a great addition to our webinar program, participating with me on several recent webinars.  Tom has also written several terrific informational overview series for CloudNine, including eDiscovery and the GDPR: Ready or Not, Here it Comes (which we covered as a webcast), Understanding eDiscovery in Criminal Cases (which we also covered as a webcast), ALSP – Not Just Your Daddy’s LPO and Why Is TAR Like a Bag of M&M’s?. Now, Tom has written another terrific overview regarding eDiscovery for the smaller cases titled eDiscovery for the Rest of Us that we’re happy to share on the eDiscovery Daily blog (and will cover later this month in a webcast).  Enjoy! – Doug

Tom’s overview is split into four parts, so we’ll cover each part separately.  Here’s the first part.

Introduction

With the high number of eDiscovery vendors and the huge amount of ED conferences, webinars and seminars, you might ask why we would talk about eDiscovery for “the rest of us”.  eDiscovery was initially seen as the exclusive domain of large firms with large cases in Federal court.  But the fact is that firms of all sizes now must know how to handle electronic discovery efficiently and cost-effectively. Why?

First, most attorneys in private practice are employed by law firms with fewer than 20 lawyers and, in fact, half of all U.S lawyers in private practice are solo practitioners.  Smaller firms mean smaller cases. With the increase in digital activity by people in all areas of their lives, we are now seeing e-discovery become an issue in domestic disputes, employment cases and even criminal matters. All case types handled by small firms.

And the initial Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governing ESI have now been emulated in over 2/3 of the states with even an agreed-upon e-discovery exchange protocol between the offices of the U.S. Attorney and the Federal Defenders for criminal cases finding its way into state matters. Coast-to-coast, from California to Florida and from states as populous as New Jersey to mostly rural states such as Louisiana and Alabama, e-discovery is now a local issue.

Indeed, when Bruce Olson and I first gave a presentation called eDiscovery for Small Cases at the ABA TechShow in March of 2010, we didn’t expect much of a turnout.  But the room was packed and we both realized we had struck a nerve.

Why?  Bruce and I called it the Small Case Dilemma.  We’ll explore that issue and others in this paper, as follows:

  1. eDiscovery: The Early Years
  2. The EDna Challenge, 2009
  3. The Ernie Challenge
  4. The EDna Challenge, 2016
  5. What’s Next?
  6. Conclusion

We’ll publish Part 2 – eDiscovery: The Early Years and The EDna Challenge, 2009 – on Thursday.

So, what do you think?  Do smaller litigation cases get shortchanged when it comes to eDiscovery technology?  As always, please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Sponsor: This blog is sponsored by CloudNine, which is a data and legal discovery technology company with proven expertise in simplifying and automating the discovery of data for audits, investigations, and litigation. Used by legal and business customers worldwide including more than 50 of the top 250 Am Law firms and many of the world’s leading corporations, CloudNine’s eDiscovery automation software and services help customers gain insight and intelligence on electronic data.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

Why Is TAR Like a Bag of M&M’s?, Part Four: eDiscovery Best Practices

Editor’s Note: Tom O’Connor is a nationally known consultant, speaker, and writer in the field of computerized litigation support systems.  He has also been a great addition to our webinar program, participating with me on several recent webinars.  Tom has also written several terrific informational overview series for CloudNine, including eDiscovery and the GDPR: Ready or Not, Here it Comes (which we covered as a webcast), Understanding eDiscovery in Criminal Cases (which we also covered as a webcast) and ALSP – Not Just Your Daddy’s LPO.  Now, Tom has written another terrific overview regarding Technology Assisted Review titled Why Is TAR Like a Bag of M&M’s? that we’re happy to share on the eDiscovery Daily blog.  Enjoy! – Doug

Tom’s overview is split into four parts, so we’ll cover each part separately.  The first part was covered last Tuesday, the second part was covered last Thursday and the third part was covered this past Tuesday.  Here’s the final part, part four.

Justification for Using TAR

So where does this leave us? The idea behind TAR – that technology can help improve the eDiscovery process – is a valuable goal. But figuring out what pieces of technology to apply at what point in the workflow is not so easy, especially when the experts disagree as to the best methodology.

Is there a standard, either statutory or in case law to help us with this determination?  Unfortunately, no. As Judge Peck noted on page 5 of the Hyles case mentioned above, “…the standard is not perfection, or using the “best” tool, but whether the search results are reasonable and proportional.”

FRCP 1 is even more specific.

These rules govern the procedure in all civil actions and proceedings in the United States district courts, except as stated in Rule 81. They should be construed, administered, and employed by the court and the parties to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding.  (emphasis added)

The Court in any given matter decides if the process being used is just.  And although we have seen ample evidence that computers are faster than humans, speed may not always equate to accuracy. I’ll leave aside the issue of accuracy for another day since two of the most interesting case studies, the EDI/Oracle study and the most recent Lex Geek “study” in which a human SME scored exactly the same number of accurate retrievals as the computer system.

I am most interested in pointing out that few if any studies or case law opinions address the issue of inexpensive.  To his credit, Judge Peck did note in footnote 2 on page 3 of the Hyles opinion that “…some vendor pricing models charge more for TAR than for keywords.” but went on to note that typically those costs are offset by review time savings.  With all due respect to Judge Peck, to whose opinion I give great credence, I am not sure that is necessarily the case.

Most case studies I have seen emphasize speed or accuracy and don’t even mention cost. Yet the increased emphasis on proportionality in eDiscovery matters makes this third requirement more important than ever. Maura Grossman does provide for this concern in her Broiler Chicken protocol but only to the extent that a concerned party should bring any issues to the Special Master.

The proportionality issue is an important one. Principle 4 of the Sedona Conference Commentary on Proportionality in Electronic Discovery states that “The application of proportionality should be based on information rather than speculation.” Absent specific statistics regarding TAR costs, it seems we are all too often engaging in speculation about the true cost a specific technology.

I am mindful of the decision in the case of In Re State Farm Lloyds in March of 2017 (covered by eDiscovery Daily here), in which the Texas Supreme Court, deciding a matter involving the form of production and noting it’s parity with the Federal Rules, remarked that one party made an assertion of an “… extraordinary and burdensome undertaking … without quantifying the time or expense involved.”   Meaningful case studies and their statistics about the actual costs of various technologies would go a long way towards resolving these sort of disputes and fulfilling the requirement of FRCP 1.

Conclusions

Although the use of TAR has been accepted in the courts for several years, there is still a great deal of confusion as to what TAR actually is. As a result, many lawyers don’t use TAR at all.

In addition, the lack of definitions makes pricing problematic. This means that the several of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are difficult if not impossible to implement including FRCP 1 and FRCP 26(b)(1).

It is essential for the proper use of technology to define what TAR means and to determine not only the different forms of TAR but the costs of using each of them.  Court approval of technology such as predictive coding, clustering and even AI all depend on clear concise information and cost analysis.  Only then will technology usage be effective as well as just, speedy and inexpensive.

So, what do you think?  How would you define TAR?  As always, please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Image Copyright © Mars, Incorporated and its Affiliates.

Sponsor: This blog is sponsored by CloudNine, which is a data and legal discovery technology company with proven expertise in simplifying and automating the discovery of data for audits, investigations, and litigation. Used by legal and business customers worldwide including more than 50 of the top 250 Am Law firms and many of the world’s leading corporations, CloudNine’s eDiscovery automation software and services help customers gain insight and intelligence on electronic data.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

Why Is TAR Like a Bag of M&M’s?, Part Three: eDiscovery Best Practices

Editor’s Note: Tom O’Connor is a nationally known consultant, speaker, and writer in the field of computerized litigation support systems.  He has also been a great addition to our webinar program, participating with me on several recent webinars.  Tom has also written several terrific informational overview series for CloudNine, including eDiscovery and the GDPR: Ready or Not, Here it Comes (which we covered as a webcast), Understanding eDiscovery in Criminal Cases (which we also covered as a webcast) and ALSP – Not Just Your Daddy’s LPO.  Now, Tom has written another terrific overview regarding Technology Assisted Review titled Why Is TAR Like a Bag of M&M’s? that we’re happy to share on the eDiscovery Daily blog.  Enjoy! – Doug

Tom’s overview is split into four parts, so we’ll cover each part separately.  The first part was covered last Tuesday and the second part was covered last Thursday.  Here’s part three.

Uses for TAR and When to Use or Not Use It

Before you think about using more advanced technology, start with the basic tools early on: dedupe, de-nist, cull by dates and sample by custodians. Perhaps even keyword searches if your case expert fully understands case issues and is consistent in his or her application of that understanding.

When you have all (or at least most) of your data at the outset, some examples are:

  • Review-for-production with very large data sets
  • First pass review for Responsive/Not Responsive
  • First pass review for Privileged/Not Privileged
  • Deposition preparation
  • Working with an expert witness

Then when you are ready to move on to more advanced analytics, get an expert to assist you who has legal experience and can explain the procedure to you, your opponent and the Court in simple English.

Advanced tools may also be helpful when all of the data is not yet collected, but you need to:

  • Identify and organize relevant data in large datasets
  • When the objective is more than just identifying relevance or responsiveness
  • If you need to locate a range of issues
  • If you have a very short deadline for a motion or hearing

There are several operational cautions to keep in mind however.

  1. TAR isn’t new: it’s actually the product of incremental improvements over the last 15 years
  2. TAR isn’t one tool: just as there is no one definition of the tools, there is likewise no single approach to how they’re employed
  3. TAR tools do not “understand” or “read” documents. They work off of numbers, not words

And when do you NOT want to use TAR? Here is a good example.

This is a slide that Craig Ball uses in his presentation on TAR and eDiscovery:

Image Copyright © Craig D. Ball, P.C.

The point is clear. With large data sets that require little or no human assessment, TAR … and here we are specifically talking about predictive coding …. is your best choice. But for the close calls, you need a human expert.

How does this work with actual data? The graphic below from the Open Source Connections blog shows a search result using a TAR tool in a price fixing case involving wholesale grocery sales.  The query was to find and cluster all red fruits.

Image Copyright © Open Source Connections blog

What do see from this graphic?  The immediate point is that the bell pepper is red, but it is a vegetable not a fruit. What I pointed out to the client however was there were no grapes in the results.  A multi modal approach with human intervention could have avoided both these errors.

We’ll publish Part 4 – Justification for Using TAR and Conclusions – on Thursday.

So, what do you think?  How would you define TAR?  As always, please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Image Copyright © Mars, Incorporated and its Affiliates.

Sponsor: This blog is sponsored by CloudNine, which is a data and legal discovery technology company with proven expertise in simplifying and automating the discovery of data for audits, investigations, and litigation. Used by legal and business customers worldwide including more than 50 of the top 250 Am Law firms and many of the world’s leading corporations, CloudNine’s eDiscovery automation software and services help customers gain insight and intelligence on electronic data.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

Why Is TAR Like a Bag of M&M’s?, Part Two: eDiscovery Best Practices

Editor’s Note: Tom O’Connor is a nationally known consultant, speaker, and writer in the field of computerized litigation support systems.  He has also been a great addition to our webinar program, participating with me on several recent webinars.  Tom has also written several terrific informational overview series for CloudNine, including eDiscovery and the GDPR: Ready or Not, Here it Comes (which we covered as a webcast), Understanding eDiscovery in Criminal Cases (which we also covered as a webcast) and ALSP – Not Just Your Daddy’s LPO.  Now, Tom has written another terrific overview regarding Technology Assisted Review titled Why Is TAR Like a Bag of M&M’s? that we’re happy to share on the eDiscovery Daily blog.  Enjoy! – Doug

Tom’s overview is split into four parts, so we’ll cover each part separately.  The first part was covered on Tuesday.  Here’s part two.

History and Evolution of Defining TAR

Most people would begin the discussion by agreeing with this framing statement made by Maura Grossman and Gordon Cormack in their seminal article, Technology-Assisted Review in E-Discovery Can Be More Effective and More Efficient Than Exhaustive Manual Review, (XVII RICH. J.L. & TECH. 11 (2011):

Overall, the myth that exhaustive manual review is the most effective—and therefore, the most defensible—approach to document review is strongly refuted. Technology-assisted review can (and does) yield more accurate results than exhaustive manual review, with much lower effort.

A technology-assisted review process may involve, in whole or in part, the use of one or more approaches including, but not limited to, keyword search, Boolean search, conceptual search, clustering, machine learning, relevance ranking, and sampling.

So, TAR began as a process and in the early stage of the discussion, it was common to refer to various TAR tools under the heading “analytics” as illustrated by the graphic below from Relativity.

Copyright © Relativity

That general heading was often divided into two main categories

Structured Analytics

  • Email threading
  • Near duplicate detection
  • Language detection

Conceptual Analytics

  • Keyword expansion
  • Conceptual clustering
  • Categorization
  • Predictive Coding

That definition of Predictive Coding as part of the TAR process held for quite some time. In fact, the current EDRM definition of Predictive Coding still refers to it as:

An industry-specific term generally used to describe a Technology-Assisted Review process involving the use of a Machine Learning Algorithm to distinguish Relevant from Non-Relevant Documents, based on a Subject Matter Expert’s Coding of a Training Set of Documents

But before long, the definition began to erode and TAR started to become synonymous with Predictive Coding. Why?  For several reasons I believe.

  1. The Grossman-Cormack glossary of 2013 used the phrase Coding” to define both TAR and PC and I think various parties then conflated the two. (See No. 2 below)

  1. Continued use of the terms interchangeably. See EG, Ralph Losey’s TARCourse,” where the very beginning of the first chapter states, “We also added a new class on the historical background of the development of predictive coding.”  (which is, by the way, an excellent read).
  2. Any discussion of TAR involves selecting documents using algorithms and most attorneys react to math the way the Wicked Witch of the West reacted to water.

Again, Ralph Losey provides a good example.  (I’m not trying to pick on Ralph, he is just such a prolific writer that his examples are everywhere…and deservedly so). He refers to gain curves, x-axis vs y-axis, HorvitsThompson estimators, recall rates, prevalence ranges and my personal favorite “word-based tf-idf tokenization strategy.”

“Danger. Danger. Warning. Will Robinson.”

  1. Marketing: the simple fact is that some vendors sell predictive coding tools. Why talk about other TAR tools when you don’t make them? Easier to call your tool TAR and leave it at that.

The problem became so acute that by 2015, according to a 2016 ACEDS News Article, Maura Grossman and Gordon Cormack trademarked the terms “Continuous Active Learning” and “CAL”, claiming those terms’ first commercial use on April 11, 2013 and January 15, 2014. In an ACEDS interview earlier in the year, Maura stated that “The primary purpose of our patents is defensive; that is, if we don’t patent our work, someone else will, and that could inhibit us from being able to use it. Similarly, if we don’t protect the marks ‘Continuous Active Learning’ and ‘CAL’ from being diluted or misused, they may go the same route as technology-assisted review and TAR.”

So then, what exactly is TAR? Everyone agrees that manual review is inefficient, but nobody can agree on what software the lawyers should use and how. I still prefer to go back to Maura and Gordon’s original definition. We’re talking about a process, not a product.

TAR isn’t a piece of software. It’s a process that can include many different steps, several pieces of software, and many decisions by the litigation team. Ralph calls it the multi-modal approach: a combination of people and computers to get the best result.

In short, analytics are the individual tools. TAR is the process you use to combine the tools you select.  The next consideration, then, is how to make that selection.

We’ll publish Part 3 – Uses for TAR and When to Use or Not Use It – next Tuesday.

So, what do you think?  How would you define TAR?  And, as always, please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Image Copyright © Mars, Incorporated and its Affiliates.

Sponsor: This blog is sponsored by CloudNine, which is a data and legal discovery technology company with proven expertise in simplifying and automating the discovery of data for audits, investigations, and litigation. Used by legal and business customers worldwide including more than 50 of the top 250 Am Law firms and many of the world’s leading corporations, CloudNine’s eDiscovery automation software and services help customers gain insight and intelligence on electronic data.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

Why Is TAR Like a Bag of M&M’s?: eDiscovery Best Practices

Editor’s Note: Tom O’Connor is a nationally known consultant, speaker, and writer in the field of computerized litigation support systems.  He has also been a great addition to our webinar program, participating with me on several recent webinars.  Tom has also written several terrific informational overview series for CloudNine, including eDiscovery and the GDPR: Ready or Not, Here it Comes (which we covered as a webcast), Understanding eDiscovery in Criminal Cases (which we also covered as a webcast) and ALSP – Not Just Your Daddy’s LPO.  Now, Tom has written another terrific overview regarding Technology Assisted Review titled Why Is TAR Like a Bag of M&M’s? that we’re happy to share on the eDiscovery Daily blog.  Enjoy! – Doug

Tom’s overview is split into four parts, so we’ll cover each part separately.  Here’s the first part.

Introduction

Over the past year I have asked this question several different ways in blogs and webinars about technology assisted review (TAR). Why is TAR like ice cream? Think Baskin Robbins? Why is TAR like golf? Think an almost incomprehensible set of rules and explanations. Why is TAR like baseball, basketball or football? Think never ending arguments about the best team ever.

And now my latest analogy. Why is TAR like a bag of M&M’s?  Because there are multiple colors with sometimes a new one thrown in and sometimes they have peanuts inside but sometimes they have chocolate.  And every now and then you get a bag of Reese’s Pieces and think to yourself, “ hmmmm, this is actually better than M&M’s. “

Two recent cases spurred this new rumination on TAR. First came the decision in Winfield, et al. v. City of New York, No. 15-CV-05236 (LTS) (KHP) (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 27, 2017) (covered by eDiscovery Daily here), where Magistrate Judge Parker ordered the parties to meet and confer on any disputes with regards to a TAR process “with the understanding that reasonableness and proportionality, not perfection and scorched-earth, must be their guiding principles.”  More recently is the wonderfully crafted validation protocol (covered by ACEDS here) from Special Master Maura Grossman in the In Re Broiler Chicken Antitrust Litigation, (Jan. 3, 2018) matter currently pending in the Northern District of Illinois.

Both of these cases harkened back to Aurora Cooperative Elevator Company v. Aventine Renewable Energy or Independent Living Center of Southern California v. City of Los Angeles, a 2015 where the court ordered the use of predictive coding after extensive discovery squabbles and the 2016 decision in Hyles v. New York City (covered by eDiscovery Daily here) where by Judge Peck, in declining to order the parties to use TAR, used the phrase on page 1 of his Order, “TAR (technology assisted review, aka predictive coding) … “.

Which brings me to my main point of discussion. Before we can decide on whether or not to use TAR we have to decide what TAR is.  This discussion will focus on the following topics:

  1. History and Evolution of Defining TAR
  2. Uses for TAR and When to Use or Not Use It
  3. Justification for Using TAR
  4. Conclusions

We’ll publish Part 2 – History and Evolution of Defining TAR – on Thursday.

So, what do you think?  How would you define TAR?  And, as always, please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Image Copyright © Mars, Incorporated and its Affiliates.

Sponsor: This blog is sponsored by CloudNine, which is a data and legal discovery technology company with proven expertise in simplifying and automating the discovery of data for audits, investigations, and litigation. Used by legal and business customers worldwide including more than 50 of the top 250 Am Law firms and many of the world’s leading corporations, CloudNine’s eDiscovery automation software and services help customers gain insight and intelligence on electronic data.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

ALSP – Not Just Your Daddy’s LPO, Part Four: eDiscovery Trends

Editor’s Note: Tom O’Connor is a nationally known consultant, speaker, and writer in the field of computerized litigation support systems.  He has also been a great addition to our webinar program, participating with me on several recent webinars.  Tom also wrote a terrific four part informational overview on Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) titled eDiscovery and the GDPR: Ready or Not, Here it Comes (and participated with me on a webcast on the same topic) and wrote another terrific five part informational overview on Understanding eDiscovery in Criminal Cases.  Now, Tom has written another terrific overview regarding Alternative Legal Service Providers titled ALSP – Not Just Your Daddy’s LPO that we’re happy to share on the eDiscovery Daily blog.  Enjoy! – Doug

Tom’s overview is split into four parts, so we’ll cover each part separately.  We covered part one on March 8 and parts two and three last Monday and Thursday.  Here’s the final part, part four.

What does this mean for the future of ALSPs?

According to the Thomson Reuters report, ALSPs are likely to continue to expand as the complexity and specialization of legal services grows. Additionally, we can expect that even more areas of ALSP specialization will develop. Some of the AM Law 50 and Fortune 50 may still choose to keep their work in-house due to their high level of internal resource or pains endured in the past with ALSPs, but the overall market for ALSP services in the rest of the legal profession should continue to expand.

Specifically, the report showed that while only 38 percent of law firms use a litigation support ALSP now, another 15 percent said they would be likely to use them in the next year. And among regulatory risk and compliance services for corporations, the number of users increases 13 percent for new users within the next year.

The biggest driver? Technology. Firms and companies interviewed for the report identified a number of different technologies they hoped ALSPs would use in the near future, including:

  • artificial intelligence,
  • contract management,
  • process mapping, and
  • workflow technology.

Eric Laughlin, Managing Director of Legal Services at Thomson Reuters, noted that in many cases, these are technologies that are still in the nascent stages in firms or legal departments, saying:

“I think it shows that while legal departments and law firms either haven’t been able to adopt yet because of budget, or perhaps because of the scale, they have high expectations that ALSPs will use technology to their advantage.”

Will there be growth pains? Undoubtedly.  The Thomson Reuters report mentions several areas that law firms and corporations would like clarified before adopting ALSPs, including:

  • 59 percent of law firms that do not use ALSPs cited data security as the main reason,
  • 54 percent of law firms cited quality of service as an inhibitor,
  • 43 percent of corporate users also cited quality of service as a negative, and
  • 43 percent of corporate users cited failure to actually reduce costs as the most negative factor.

The Legaltech New York panel mentioned earlier highlighted these factors, with security getting the most attention. However, the panel suggested these issues may revolve mainly around market education and getting potential customers more familiar with and gaining experience using ALSPs, rather than being insurmountable barriers to continued growth.

The panel also discussed the potential growth in the ALSP market and opined that ALSPs may be viewed as complementary, rather than competitive to firms, helping firms be more efficient and competitive. Since an ALSP is not a law firm, it can often provide one or more services that law firms might offer, but at a lower cost with increased expertise, flexibility, and speed.

Also, because they do not have to adhere to the structure and hierarchy of a law firm, an ALSP can more quickly change business practices to increase efficiency using technology or other innovative practices. Since clients have traditionally preferred having a single point of contact for all their legal business, this would seem to open the door to the opportunity for the law firm or GC to partner with ALSPs to offer cost-effective models for their clients.

What will that future ALSP included hierarchy look like?  First and foremost, it will require good project management skills. Well known legal consultant Casey Flaherty, Principal of the legal operations consulting company Procertas, was recently quoted as saying:

Most successful users of ALSPs will tell you that… once they took time to train the provider and work to establish a common understanding for the product, the returns on the investment were spectacular.”

So more and more, ALSPs will become partners in legal work more than merely hired vendors. And like all partners in the legal process, the relationship will be ongoing and not simply oriented around one deliverable task.

“The future is now,” Fenwick & West LLP’s Robert Brownstone, who led the Legaltech panel on ALSPs, tells any and everyone who will listen. Brownstone often points out that “it is the rare law firm or legal department that can adequately ramp up – and keep up – on technology, project management and innovation. By planting their flag, ALSPs have provided legal departments not only with a wider array of choices but also a lever to pressure law firms to adjust to the new normal.”

So, while the future appears to be bright for ALSPs, the future also appears to be now.

So, what do you think?  Have you used an ALSP before?  And, as always, please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Also, it’s notable that Tom’s post is today because I (Doug) want to thank JD Supra and its readership for CloudNine being named the Readers’ Choice Top Firm in eDiscovery for the second straight year!  And, Tom and I were named two of the top four authors in the Readers’ Choice awards for eDiscovery!  I’m honored to be named for the second year in a row!  Distribution of our posts via JD Supra has continued to grow our readership greatly and I really appreciate our partnership with JD Supra and thank all of you for reading our blog, whether it’s via JD Supra or the “old fashioned way” via our site!  Thank you so much!

And, today our blog has been around for 7 1/2 years!  And, we are up to 1,942 lifetime posts!  Thanks to all of you of support and readership of the blog and making it all possible.  We wouldn’t write it if y’all didn’t read it!  :o)

Sponsor: This blog is sponsored by CloudNine, which is a data and legal discovery technology company with proven expertise in simplifying and automating the discovery of data for audits, investigations, and litigation. Used by legal and business customers worldwide including more than 50 of the top 250 Am Law firms and many of the world’s leading corporations, CloudNine’s eDiscovery automation software and services help customers gain insight and intelligence on electronic data.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

ALSP – Not Just Your Daddy’s LPO, Part Three: eDiscovery Trends

Editor’s Note: Tom O’Connor is a nationally known consultant, speaker, and writer in the field of computerized litigation support systems.  He has also been a great addition to our webinar program, participating with me on several recent webinars.  Tom also wrote a terrific four part informational overview on Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) titled eDiscovery and the GDPR: Ready or Not, Here it Comes (and participated with me on a webcast on the same topic) and wrote another terrific five part informational overview on Understanding eDiscovery in Criminal Cases.  Now, Tom has written another terrific overview regarding Alternative Legal Service Providers titled ALSP – Not Just Your Daddy’s LPO that we’re happy to share on the eDiscovery Daily blog.  Enjoy! – Doug

Tom’s overview is split into four parts, so we’ll cover each part separately.  We covered part one last Thursday and part two on Monday.  Here’s part three.

Who is actually using an ALSP?  And, why are they using them?

Who is actually using an ALSP?  And what is the specific breakdown of these services? The Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute report shows that more than half of law firms and corporations are already using ALSPs with 51 percent of law firms and 60 percent of law departments already using ALSPs in at least one service category.

John Munro, Vice President of National Markets at Blackstone Discovery, was a panelist at a Legaltech New York session discussing the ALSP market. He noted that traditional document review work was once 75 percent of the LPO market but now may be no more than 30 percent of the ALSP market. More and more, ALSPs are playing a bigger role in providing legal services.

Law departments seem to be using ALSPs in specialized areas ranging from regulatory risk & compliance services to specialized legal advice for IP managers and legal researchers.

Law firms however are most likely to use ALSPs for litigation support, especially eDiscovery, document review and pre-litigation investigation.

In a January press release, report co-author Mari Sako, Professor of Management Studies at Saïd Business School shared that:

“ALSPs are not just about lower cost, but also about access to specialized expertise and alternative modes of delivery.”

But why?

ALSPs were originally seen as a good outsourcing choice simply because of affordability in handling tasks without billing out to an attorney. In 2005, it was purely about the cost savings and the labor arbitrage.  And according to the Thomson Reuters report that still seems to be the case when it comes to tasks such as document review. 85 percent of law firms who use ALSPs said they do so in document review for cost savings and 52 percent said they use them to meet peak document review demand without increasing headcount.

While cost savings still remains a driver, the report confirms how ALSPs today are disaggregating legal processes, that is to say they are providing legal expertise not always available in-house and helping enable greater use of current technology.

Outside of document review though, the need for expertise is increasingly a key factor in selecting an ALSP.  About two-thirds of law firms reported using litigation and investigation support services ALSPs and said their primary reason was the need for access to specialized expertise not available in-house; only one-third cited cost savings as a main factor. A good example of this expertise is Attorney Kelly Twigger and her company, ESI Attorneys. She routinely engages as the eDiscovery expert for law firms and corporate clients because she can provide a depth of ESI experience which they simply cannot bring to the table.

In selecting a non-legal task ALSPs, the percentages were close to the same: 63 percent (expertise driven) and 38 percent (cost-driven), respectively.

For in-house counsel, the four most often selected types of ALSP services beyond eDiscovery and document review were regulatory risk and compliance services, specialized legal services, intellectual property management, and legal research services. The primary reason for selection of these services was access to specialized expertise not available in-house and the difference between this reason and cost was even more pronounced then with private firms, at 77 percent for expertise while only 27 percent for cost savings.

In a statement to Legaltech News during the Legaltech conference in New York earlier this year, Eric Laughlin, Managing Director of Legal Services at Thomson Reuters, noted that

“Having matured in their offerings a little bit, these alternative legal service providers are differentiating based on expertise. And that makes corporations more and more comfortable to reach out to them and use them.”

In addition to expertise, an ALSP can do a much higher volume of work than can the average law firm or legal department. For example, an ALSP specializing in eDiscovery may simply have many more tools and much more robust workflow processes for extracting electronic evidence from terabytes of ESI than any firm or GC office.

This higher volume capability allows their expertise to be applied in a manner that is not only faster but less costly.  The result is that law firms now see that subcontracting services to an ALSP can allow them to focus more on their own core competencies. And corporations which have become more focused on reducing outside legal spend see that using a specialized ALSP rather than a law firm may better serve that purpose.

We’ll publish the final part, Part Four – What does this mean for the future of ALSPs? – next Tuesday.

So, what do you think?  Have you used an ALSP before?  And, as always, please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Sponsor: This blog is sponsored by CloudNine, which is a data and legal discovery technology company with proven expertise in simplifying and automating the discovery of data for audits, investigations, and litigation. Used by legal and business customers worldwide including more than 50 of the top 250 Am Law firms and many of the world’s leading corporations, CloudNine’s eDiscovery automation software and services help customers gain insight and intelligence on electronic data.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

ALSP – Not Just Your Daddy’s LPO, Part Two: eDiscovery Trends

Editor’s Note: Tom O’Connor is a nationally known consultant, speaker, and writer in the field of computerized litigation support systems.  He has also been a great addition to our webinar program, participating with me on several recent webinars.  Tom also wrote a terrific four part informational overview on Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) titled eDiscovery and the GDPR: Ready or Not, Here it Comes (and participated with me on a webcast on the same topic) and wrote another terrific five part informational overview on Understanding eDiscovery in Criminal Cases.  Now, Tom has written another terrific overview regarding Alternative Legal Service Providers titled ALSP – Not Just Your Daddy’s LPO that we’re happy to share on the eDiscovery Daily blog.  Enjoy! – Doug

Tom’s overview is split into four parts, so we’ll cover each part separately.  We covered part one last Thursday.  Here’s part two.

What is an ALSP?

The first consideration in understanding new generation ALSPs is to understand how ALSP is defined. In general, ALSPs are niche companies that specialize in providing such high-demand legal services as:

  • Human Resources
  • IT Services
  • Document Review
  • Contract Management
  • Litigation Support
  • ECA
  • Analytics
  • Discovery and Electronic Discovery
  • Contract Lawyers and Staffing
  • Investigation Support and Legal Research
  • IP Management
  • Due Diligence

Industries such as banking started outsourcing IT services as a means to reduce costs almost 30 years ago. And now businesses and law firms are doing the same thing in the area of document services by turning to these new generation ALSP companies for even routine legal services that are too expensive and time-consuming to do in-house.

According to the Thompson-Reuters Legal Executive Institute report, there are five categories of ALSPs.

  • Accounting and Audit Firms that have a large amount of revenue in legal services. They tend to focus on high-volume, process-oriented work that’s complementary to accounting-audit work.
  • Captive LPOs that are wholly owned captive operations. Often located in lower-cost regions, they are focused on high-volume process work.
  • Independent LPOs, eDiscovery and Document Review Providers who perform outsourced legal work under the direction of corporate legal departments and law firms. They are typically engaged for matter- or project-based work often proactively managed and globally delivered. This category Includes eDiscovery services and document review providers.
  • Managed Legal Services Providers that contract for all or part of the function of an in-house legal team. They typically are engaged for ongoing work within scope and proactively managed.
  • Contract Lawyers, In-Sourcing, and Staffing Services who are providers of lawyers to companies on a temporary basis. Support can range from entry-level document review to highly skilled and experienced specialists.

So while the term ALSP is a reasonable capstone description for the multiple categories of ALSP specialization, it does appear that using only one term may, in some cases, be an over simplification of a complex grouping of services.

Another characteristic that defines an ALSP is the fact that it is not necessarily a law firm and does not engage in the practice of law nor does it necessarily have to be staffed by lawyers. Because of this characteristic, paralegals, legal assistants, and technical staff with the right type of legal expertise are in great demand at the new generation ALSP.  And more and more work is moving in their direction. According to an October 2013 article in ABA Journal, employment at traditional law firms peaked in 2004 and has declined moderately since then.  During the same time period, employment at ALSPs has doubled.

Although litigation and investigation support ALSPs are the third most-used category of ALSPs for law firms (behind eDiscovery and document review), the report found that they are used by just 28 percent of firms. Twenty-six percent of firms use ALSPs for non-legal factual research and 24 percent of firms use them for specialized legal services.

When breaking down the ALSP services used by corporations, there seems to be even more reluctance to adopt them. Regulatory risk and compliance services are the categories that see the most use proportionally, but even those ALSPs see adoption at only 29 percent. The only other category above 20 percent adoption in corporate legal departments is specialized legal services (21 percent).

Eric Laughlin is the general manager for Thomson Reuters Legal Managed Services. He expects continuing growth for ALSPs, saying this about the report:

“The data says that law firms are recognizing ALSPs for more expertise, so there’s a respect there for what ALSPs are doing. And then their experience in the market is that clients are pushing them more to disaggregate. They’re being asked to look at more models by their clients.”

The numbers in the report bear this out. But, as noted above, the uses go well beyond eDiscovery. ALSP services now extend to a wide variety of activities including not just LPO, managed services, HR, general accounting and so on. David Curle, Director of Strategic Competitive Intelligence for Thomson Reuters Legal, said in another panel at Legaltech that these non-traditional activities provide for roughly $8.4 billion in legal services each year.  While still a fraction of the $700 billion total global spend on legal services, it is an incredibly fast-growing segment of the market.

We’ll publish Part Three – Who is actually using an ALSP and why are they using them? – on Thursday.

So, what do you think?  Have you used an ALSP before?  And, as always, please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Sponsor: This blog is sponsored by CloudNine, which is a data and legal discovery technology company with proven expertise in simplifying and automating the discovery of data for audits, investigations, and litigation. Used by legal and business customers worldwide including more than 50 of the top 250 Am Law firms and many of the world’s leading corporations, CloudNine’s eDiscovery automation software and services help customers gain insight and intelligence on electronic data.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

ALSP – Not Just Your Daddy’s LPO: eDiscovery Trends

Editor’s Note: Tom O’Connor is a nationally known consultant, speaker, and writer in the field of computerized litigation support systems.  He has also been a great addition to our webinar program, participating with me on several recent webinars.  Tom also wrote a terrific four part informational overview on Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) titled eDiscovery and the GDPR: Ready or Not, Here it Comes (and participated with me on a webcast on the same topic) and wrote another terrific five part informational overview on Understanding eDiscovery in Criminal Cases.  Now, Tom has written another terrific overview regarding Alternative Legal Service Providers titled ALSP – Not Just Your Daddy’s LPO that we’re happy to share on the eDiscovery Daily blog.  Enjoy! – Doug

Tom’s overview is split into four parts, so we’ll cover each part separately.  Here’s the first part.

Introduction

One of the biggest topics of discussion at the recent Legaltech® conference in New York was Alternative Legal Service Providers or ALSPs.  I was interested in the topic really because I was confused as to what the term ALSP meant. Like several other people I spoke with at the show, I originally considered an ALSP to be just a newer name that marketers had given to legal process outsourcing or LPO.

LPO was, of course, the exporting of legal services to low-wage markets either overseas (off-shore) or in the United States (on-shore). The LPO trend had been fueled by many factors, including:

  • Globalization
  • The rising cost of legal services
  • The growth of the Internet
  • Increased automation of legal processes
  • Developments in data security

In my experience, LPO offerings tended to be focused primarily on low cost document coding or data entry and were utilized primarily by law firms. But the recent rise of ALSP services, which have LPO characteristics, seems to be fueled by corporate law departments that are interested in partners providing software built specifically for their legal and compliance needs.

These growth factors for ALSPs are illustrated in a report from The Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute, in partnership with the Georgetown University Law Centre for the Study of the Legal Profession and the University of Oxford Saïd Business School titled The 2017 Alternative Legal Service Study – Understanding the Growth and Benefits of These New Legal Providers (you can download a copy here)  In this global report, more than 800 law firms and corporations were surveyed, and the results indicated that the growing use of a new generation of ALSPs is largely about expertise, not lower costs, as is often assumed.  Other factors in the growing use of ALSPs noted in the study included scalability, client demand for global solutions and greater access to technological innovations.

My focus for the following discussion will be a closer look at the new generation ALSP and the factors that define it.  We will take a look at what an ALSP is, who is actually using an ALSP, why they use them and how they will impact the provision of legal services in the future.

We’ll publish Part 2 – What is an ALSP? – next Monday.

So, what do you think?  Have you used an ALSP before?  And, as always, please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Sponsor: This blog is sponsored by CloudNine, which is a data and legal discovery technology company with proven expertise in simplifying and automating the discovery of data for audits, investigations, and litigation. Used by legal and business customers worldwide including more than 50 of the top 250 Am Law firms and many of the world’s leading corporations, CloudNine’s eDiscovery automation software and services help customers gain insight and intelligence on electronic data.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

Understanding eDiscovery in Criminal Cases, Part Five: eDiscovery Best Practices

Editor’s Note: Tom O’Connor is a nationally known consultant, speaker, and writer in the field of computerized litigation support systems.  He has also been a great addition to our webinar program, participating with me on several recent webinars, including our webinar last Thursday (Important eDiscovery Case Law Decisions of 2017 and Their Impact on 2018), which was great.  If you missed it, you can check out the replay here.  Tom also wrote a terrific four part informational overview on Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) titled eDiscovery and the GDPR: Ready or Not, Here it Comes.  Now, Tom has written another terrific overview for Understanding eDiscovery in Criminal Cases that we’re happy to share on the eDiscovery Daily blog.  Enjoy! – Doug

Tom’s overview is split into five parts, so we’ll cover each part separately.  The first four parts were published last Monday, Wednesday and Friday and this Monday, now here’s the final part, Part 5.

Border Entry

Of course, not all criminal law electronic discovery matters involve futuristic technologies such as the Echo or embedded web pages. According to US Customs and Border Patrol, approximately one million people enter legally into the United States each day. Nearly half of them are crossing the US-Mexico border and many of them are traveling with laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other digital devices.

The issue surrounding possible eDiscovery disputes at the border is that case law is well settled that border searches constitute an “historically recognized exception to the Fourth Amendment’s general principle that a warrant be obtained.”  CF, United States v. Ramsey, 431 U.S. 606 (1977) where the Court recognized “the long-standing right of the sovereign to protect itself by stopping and examining persons and property crossing into this country.”

David Horrigan eDiscovery counsel and legal content director at Relativity, blogged recently about the case of United States v. Cotterman, 709 F.3d 952 (9th Cir. 2012) where border agents at an Arizona port of entry at the US-Mexico border seized the laptop of Howard Cotterman as he and his wife were returning from a vacation in Mexico. Cotterman had been flagged in the government computers due to a 15-year-old conviction for child molestation.

A search at the border found nothing but some files on the laptop were locked, so it was sent to a forensics unit which used special software to open the files and discovered images of child pornography.  A US District Court granted a defense motion to suppress evidence seized from the laptop, but a divided Ninth Circuit reversed, holding the totality of the circumstances created the reasonable suspicion required for the search.

As Horrigan noted, courts have rejected an “anything goes” approach at the border however the standards are far laxer than inside the US where the warrant standard is the more common.  Defense counsel with clients involved in a border dispute should be aware of this important distinction.

CONCLUSION

For practical purposes, with more and more ESI and possible third-party ESI that could assist in the defense of criminal cases, it is likely there will be future changes to the criminal rules to more closely mirror the civil rules. Certainly, the JETWG protocol signals a move in that direction.

As David Horrigan noted in his blog post cited above, “Criminal eDiscovery matters because technology changes the rules of the legal ballgame. Just as technological advances change what is reasonably accessible under Rule 26 in civil matters, advances in legal technology are making it cheaper and easier for the government to conduct searches in criminal matters.”

In the criminal field, the law must both keep up with changes in technology but continue the constitutional admonition to protect civil liberties. A serious challenge which will become more and more complex as technology continues to provide more challenges.

So, what do you think?  Do you handle criminal cases and have a lot of eDiscovery? Read more about it in this eDiscovery in Criminal Cases series and see how it may impact you and your organization.  And, as always, please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Sponsor: This blog is sponsored by CloudNine, which is a data and legal discovery technology company with proven expertise in simplifying and automating the discovery of data for audits, investigations, and litigation. Used by legal and business customers worldwide including more than 50 of the top 250 Am Law firms and many of the world’s leading corporations, CloudNine’s eDiscovery automation software and services help customers gain insight and intelligence on electronic data.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.