Regular readers will know that I find Equivio’s value proposition to be extremely attractive, notwithstanding that the user – the lawyer or his client – does not always get to see it directly. That is because Equivio’s products are bought by service providers and software developers and incorporated seamlessly into their own products. The clients might ask for Equivio’s near-deduping and e-mailing thread processes to be used, and see only the result, not the legs working. Alternatively, the processes may be so closely integrated into the review application that they appear as just another function of that application.
Equivio have followed their applications for identifying and handling near-duplicates and e-mail threads with a product called Equivio->Relevance. I have mentioned it before and I am not going to say much about it here, because I am writing a white paper about it and do not want to steal my own thunder. Put as briefly as possible, Equivio->Relevance hands a small batch of documents to a human reviewer who marks them for relevance. The next batch takes account of the relevance decisions already made, and is further refined by the human reviewer’s input into them. This process continues until the application announces that it “knows” enough to mark the remaining documents (that is, the vast majority) in accordance with the decisions made about the samples.
The element which interests me about this is not the pure technology, wonderful though that is, but the psychological effect on the reviewing team. The iterative relationship between reviewer and application seems far removed from the idea of a black box taking control away from the lawyers, and Relevance takes us a big step towards transparent delegation – that is, towards a set of computerised processes whose decisions are monitored by and tuned by the lawyers, whose own faith in the system increases with experience.
There is no substitute for a user’s review in trying to capture how this works, and we now have this in the form of an article in the Metropolitan Corporate Counsel of 2 November. Headed Controlling legal costs – legal service providers. Prioritisation: saving you discovery costs while speeding up review, the article takes the form of an interview with Greg Wildisen, International Managing Director of Epiq Systems, and Vince Neicho, litigation support expert at Allen & Overy. I know Vince well, and was aware that he was excited by some new technology which his firm were trying out as part of a suite of options to offer its clients. Having had a web demo of Equivio->Relevance, it was easy to deduce what that technology was.
What Epiq Systems have done is to take Equivio->Relevance and build it into their review platform DocuMatrix. DocuMatrix already includes Equivio’s near duplicates and e-mail thread technology, and Epiq are the first to integrate Equivio->Relevance. They call it IQ Review.
I will leave you to read the article itself, but it is worth pulling out one of the quotations in it. Bear in mind in reading it that Vince Neicho has been in this market for longer than any of us, and at a very high level, and might by now be expected to be jaded by new developments. What appears from this quotation suggests the opposite:
I am always amazed by what these pieces of software can do. A number of my colleagues and those from other firms make a point of attending events such as the LegalTech conference in New York in order to see what’s new. There are many firms that will just employ one provider to provide all of the different e-discovery related services. Allen & Overy takes the view that providers excel in different disciplines. We look at each discipline and then use what we determine to be the best approach for our needs.
Each product itself, of course, is constantly evolving. It is a moving feast, though every now and again something comes out which is a completely new. That is what Epiq’s IQ Review is. It is a refreshing new approach to document review and I think its timing is perfect.
I have a double purpose in drawing your attention to this quotation. In addition to Vince’s evident enthusiasm for this particular product, he makes the point that LegalTech in New York in February offers the opportunity for prospective users to compare and contrast new applications, as well as to discuss them amongst themselves. LegalTech is the next big show in the calendar. I have just booked my tickets and hotel, and the overall cost seems a small price to pay for getting up-to-date with the latest technology such as Vince Neicho describes.
If you cannot wait till February, my web demonstration of Equivio->Relevance was given by Warwick Sharp of Equivio, an eloquent advocate of the overall business proposition as well as of the technology. A corporate client will emerge from the demo wondering why his lawyers are not offering him a range of options like Allen & Overy do – which means that external lawyers ought to know what the range of possible options includes. If you want to see Epiq Systems’ application of Equivio->Relevance, as well as the rest of DocuMatrix, contact Mike Brown or Greg Wildisen.