eDiscovery Daily Blog

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.


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.

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