Legastat is the latest London-based e-disclosure services provider to offer Equivio’s technology for speeding up the identification of redundant data and enabling early case assessment. It is not the only such provider, and the same technology is available as integrated components of some software solutions.
There are not many providers of electronic document services whose logo includes the words “Established 1953”. It was obviously a good year for those whose involvement in electronic disclosure was necessarily preceded by a long period doing something else. It was the year in which I was born and it is the year in which Legastat was founded, and both of us had to occupy ourselves elsewhere until e-disclosure came along. I was a solicitor and Legastat was a provider of printing and copying services. When I was an articled clerk, I used to go to its premises in Carey Street, at the back of the Royal Courts of Justice, for urgent copies, a service which it still provides from the same premises.
More recently, it has added e-disclosure services to its more traditional offerings, now under the direction of Casian Sala. It crosses my radar now because it has augmented the services offered to its clients by taking Equivio’s technology for identifying near-duplicates and e-mail threads. It joins many of its rivals in the UK litigation services market, Trilantic, Hobs Legal Docs, and Millnet among them, on the list of those who provide Equivio’s technology (I will come on in a moment to those who provide them as part of and in addition to their own software solutions).
Equivio’s technology is aimed at speeding up the identification of redundant data. Near-duplicates and e-mail threads have in common that you can achieve both efficiency and consistency by grouping together items which have very similar content or which appeared in the same e-mail thread. If the same user sees all these similar documents at the same time, then he or she can make the same decisions about them without having to read them all. Equivio’s other main product, Equivio>Relevance, works by taking the decisions of a senior lawyer or subject-matter expert across a series of samples and then applying that knowledge to the whole document set to produce a relevance ranking. This allows decisions to be made as to who should review the documents and in what order.
Equivio’s products are provided in three different ways: as free-standing applications in the hands of a services provider, as components built into an organisation’s in-house systems, or as integrated elements in other document management applications.
I first came across Equivio in the latter context when Mike Brown of Epiq Systems first showed me Epiq’s document review platform DocuMatrix. Epiq was the first litigation software provider to integrate Equivio’s tools, and the benefits of this seamless integration were instantly obvious. DocuMatrix is particularly strong anyway at handing out parcels of documents in controlled batches to the right people, using whatever criteria best suit the circumstances. It makes obvious sense to batch together documents which have a high degree of similarity of content or which are part of the same e-mail thread.
When Equivio subsequently produced Equivio>Relevance, Epiq were the first to incorporate it into DocuMatrix and into a “combination of new technology and smart procedures” called IQ Review (it is worth reading the Allen & Overy case studies linked from this page). IQ Review can be used as an early case assessment (ECA) tool regardless of the review application, with the resulting ranking information available for import elsewhere. Equivio’s installed base lists other companies primarily known for their software including CaseCentral, Catalyst, Summation (now part of AccessData), FTI, iCONECT and Relativity, who use one or more of Equivio’s products either as integrated components or as free-standing steps on the way to import into their software.
The benefits are the same, whether Equivio’s functionality is built into your review application or used on its own. Anything which enables decisions to be made in bulk about documents saves time and money.
I report on all this with the benefit of having seen the tools both as self-contained applications and integrated into DocuMatrix. I am well aware of two things – firstly that the concepts so glibly described are not so easily understood if you are new to this, and secondly that the multiple routes to using the same underlying product (never mind rival products in the same space) may appear confusing. I see it as a strength that the market offers different doorways like this, and not just because it engenders competition. Why not contact one of the general services providers listed above who offer Equivio’s products as free-standing processes, and one software company which integrates them and see it all for yourself? If that is not the end of the matter (because there are other ways of skinning the ECA rabbit and you may want to see at least one other), you will at least understand what tools like this can bring to cost-effective management of your next case.