eDiscovery Daily Blog

EDRM Releases the Final Version of its TAR Guidelines: eDiscovery Best Practices

During last year’s EDRM Spring Workshop, I discussed on this blog that EDRM had released the preliminary draft of its Technology Assisted Review (TAR) Guidelines for public comment.  They gave a mid-July deadline for comments and I even challenged the people who didn’t understand TAR very well to review it and provide feedback – after all, those are the people who would hopefully stand to benefit the most from these guidelines.  Now, over half a year later, EDRM has released the final version of its TAR Guidelines.

The TAR Guidelines (available here) have certainly gone through a lot of review.  In addition to the public comment period last year, it was discussed in the last two EDRM Spring meetings (2017 and 2018), presented at the Duke Distinguished Lawyers’ conference on Technology Assisted Review in 2017 for feedback, and worked on extensively during that time.

As indicated in the press release, more than 50 volunteer judges, practitioners, and eDiscovery experts contributed to the drafting process over a two-year period. Three drafting teams worked on various iterations of the document, led by Matt Poplawski of Winston & Strawn, Mike Quartararo of eDPM Advisory Services, and Adam Strayer of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. Tim Opsitnick of TCDI and U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis IV (Southern District of New York, Ret.), assisted in editing the document and incorporating comments from the public comment period.

“We wanted to address the growing confusion about TAR, particularly marketing claims and counterclaims that undercut the benefits of various versions of TAR software,” said John Rabiej, deputy director of the Bolch Judicial Institute of Duke Law School, which oversees EDRM. “These guidelines provide guidance to all users of TAR and apply across the different variations of TAR. We avoided taking a position on which variation of TAR is more effective, because that very much depends on facts specific to each case. Instead, our goal was to create a definitive document that could explain what TAR is and how it is used, to help demystify it and to help encourage more widespread adoption.”  EDRM/Duke Law also provide a TAR Q&A with Rabiej here.

The 50-page document contains four chapters: The first chapter defines technology assisted review and the TAR process. The second chapter lays out a standard workflow for the TAR process. The third chapter examines alternative tasks for applying TAR, including prioritization, categorization, privilege review, and quality and quantity control. Chapter four discusses factors to consider when deciding whether to use TAR, such as document set, cost, timing, and jurisdiction.

“Judges generally lack the technical expertise to feel comfortable adjudicating disputes involving sophisticated search methodologies. I know I did,” said Magistrate Judge Francis, who assisted in editing the document. “These guidelines are intended, in part, to provide judges with sufficient information to ask the right questions about TAR. When judges are equipped with at least this fundamental knowledge, counsel and their clients will be more willing to use newer, more efficient technologies, recognizing that they run less risk of being caught up in a discovery quagmire because a judge just doesn’t understand TAR. This, in turn, will further the goals of Rule 1 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure: to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of litigation.”

EDRM just announced the release of the final version of the TAR guidelines yesterday, so I haven’t had a chance to read it completely through yet, but a quick comparison to the public comment version from last May seems to indicate the same topics and sub-topics that were covered back then, so there certainly appears to be no major rewrite as a result of the public comment feedback.  I look forward to reading it in detail and determining what specific changes were made.

So, what do you think?  Will these guidelines help the average attorney or judge better understand TAR?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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