eDiscovery Daily Blog

George Socha of Socha Consulting LLC – eDiscovery Trends

This is the seventh of the 2013 LegalTech New York (LTNY) Thought Leader Interview series.  eDiscoveryDaily interviewed several thought leaders at LTNY this year and generally asked each of them the following questions:

  1. What are your general observations about LTNY this year and how it fits into emerging trends?
  2. If last year’s “next big thing” was the emergence of predictive coding, what do you feel is this year’s “next big thing”?
  3. What are you working on that you’d like our readers to know about?

Today’s thought leader is George Socha.  A litigator for 16 years, George is President of Socha Consulting LLC, offering services as an electronic discovery expert witness, special master and advisor to corporations, law firms and their clients, and legal vertical market software and service providers in the areas of electronic discovery and automated litigation support. George has also been co-author of the leading survey on the electronic discovery market, The Socha-Gelbmann Electronic Discovery Survey; in 2011, he and Tom Gelbmann converted the Survey into Apersee, an online system for selecting eDiscovery providers and their offerings.  In 2005, he and Tom Gelbmann launched the Electronic Discovery Reference Model project to establish standards within the eDiscovery industry – today, the EDRM model has become a standard in the industry for the eDiscovery life cycle and there are nine active projects with over 300 members from 81 participating organizations.  George has a J.D. for Cornell Law School and a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

What are your general observations about LTNY this year and how it fits into emerging trends?

First of all, this year’s show has a livelier feel to it after a few years where it was feeling a bit flat, no doubt probably due to the economy.  The show has more “spark” to it, which is good not just for this conference but also for the industry and where it’s at and where it’s going.

As for the curriculum, if last year was the year of TAR/CAR/Predictive Coding, so was this year.  It’s also the year of “big data” – whatever “big data” means – and it may or may not be the year of information governance – whatever that means. I think a lot of what we see continues to focus on the same underlining set of issues, that providers are being ever more creative with the packages of the services, software and the capabilities they are offering.  They are trying to figure out how to get those offerings in front of the consuming audience with a compelling story addressing the question of why should you go the extra step and use what they have to offer instead of doing things as you always have done them.  Predictive coding is still more discussion than action, but it is interesting to hear the different opinions.  I moderated a panel with two trial lawyers who are head of their eDiscovery practice groups, who talked about the processes they now go through with clients where discussing predictive coding, to determine whether it’s appropriate for a given case.  The two attorneys were discussing the benefits of CAR, the drawbacks, how much extra it is likely to cost, how much it is likely to save and whether it is likely to even save anything.  This is a discussion that didn’t happen much a year ago and hardly at all two years ago.  To place this in context, however, I have worked with one corporation that has been doing what we now call Computer Assisted Review since 2003 to my direct knowledge and, I am told, since 2000.  CAR is not new in terms of techniques, rather it is new in terms of its packaging and presentation and “productization”.

If last year’s “next big thing” was the emergence of predictive coding, what do you feel is this year’s “next big thing”?

If you look at the eDiscovery industry, what the software providers have been developing and the skills and expertise that the service providers and law firms have been building up over the years, they are amassing a powerful set of capabilities that until now has been focused on one pretty narrow set of issues – eDiscovery. I see people starting to take those tools, techniques and experience and beginning to point them in new directions far beyond just eDiscovery, because most of what we deal with in eDiscovery applies in other areas as well.  For example, I see a turn toward broader information governance issues, such as how you get your electronic house in order so that things like eDiscovery become less of a pain point, and how do you do a better job or figuring out what is and what isn’t a record, and how can you get rid of content you been holding onto for years.  These issues extend beyond eDiscovery.  They include what you do to identify compliance challenges, and monitoring whether you are meeting those challenges in an effective fashion.  You could use the same technologies and approaches to improve how you manage your intellectual property assets, essentially pointing the EDRM framework in a new direction.  I think we are on the brink of what could be an enormous of expansion of uses of these capabilities that have been developed in a niche area for some time now.

What are you working on that you’d like our readers to know about?

With regard to EDRM, we are approaching our tenth year.  We are looking to that milestone and asking ourselves what EDRM should be today, what it should be tomorrow, and what can we do to improve what we do and how we do it.  We are going to shift to smaller working groups focused on more targeted projects with a shorter delivery cycle.  You can see the beginnings of that in some of our recently published deliverables.

The Computer Assisted Review Reference Model (CARRM) (our blog post about CARRM here) was our first outcome using this process and the second was the EDRM Talent Task Matrix (our blog post about it here) that we published on Monday.  For now, the Talent Task Matrix consists of a diagram that helps explain the concept as well as an accompanying spreadsheet which is available in Excel format (XLSX) or Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format that anyone can download.  We are looking for comments and feedback on the matrix and anticipate that it will fill a need and a gap that are not otherwise being addressed.

With regard to Apersee, providers continue to add information about themselves and we continue to add features.  In the past year, we replaced the search engine with a faceted search mechanism that is simpler to use.  We added an Event Calendar with links to Apersee providers. We added in a Press Release section which works in much the same way.  We’re looking to develop two additional sections which take specific types of content associated with providers and make that available within the application.  The underlining notion is to better help consumers evaluate providers on many dimensions, with an easily followed structure to the content available through the site.

Finally, we added the ability for consumers to submit Special Requests, so that if in looking for a provider and searching through the website they do not find the result they need, they always can submit a special request to us through the click of a button.  We reformulate the message and send it out to about 2,700 people in the provider community.  Unless you choose otherwise, the request is totally anonymous.  Typically, we get back 20 to 40 relevant responses within the first few hours, which usually is more information than the requestor can handle.  The responses from the request system have been very positive.

Thanks, George, for participating in the interview!

And to the readers, as always, please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic!

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