The recent dominance of predictive coding and other forms of computer-assisted review in these pages and elsewhere reflects as well as reports on the growing interest in this kind of technology. It is also inevitable that the discussion has been led by US thinking on the subject because that is where most of the discussion happens.
I have tried in my own articles to walk a line between giving an uncluttered view of the predictive coding debates and emphasising that this is merely one of several options which must be considered by those charged with the management of large volumes of electronic data. This type of technology is not for everyone nor for every case and, as Greg Wildisen of Epiq Systems said in my discussion with him (see Strong eDiscovery behind the Q2 numbers at Epiq Systems) there is often a balance to be struck between the time and cost considerations when considering human and technology input.
The UK does not have the vast armies of contract lawyers which are common in the US. Those who have a lot of documents for review, however, ought to be aware that there is a thriving and competitive market offering document review services in the UK to be considered alongside, or more usually in tandem with, a technology solution.
I have already mentioned Epiq Systems’ document review service in the article referred to above. I was in the London offices of Huron Legal recently. When I first went there, for the office opening, the review pods had just been set up. Now there were two teams of reviewers hard at work and I was told that this had been the case since the service was launched. Hobs Legal Docs, one of the few UK providers still with a strong paper-handling division, necessarily provides manual coding to go with it – unlike most electronic data, scanning paper requires manual work for mere identification quite apart from any decision-making implicit in the term “document review”.
I am not going to get drawn into giving a list of all those who offer document review services to their UK clients, whether onshore or offshore, mentioning these three because I have recently seen their facilities with my own eyes. An equally random way of identifying players in this market is to put a few relevant search terms into Google UK; the top entries for a search which I have just made include First Advantage Litigation Consulting, Unified (with Project Counsel), Kroll OnTrack, Millnet, LDM Global, i-Lit Paralegals and Xerox Litigation Services as well as some of those already mentioned as at least referring to services of this kind on their web sites. A slightly different permutation of search terms will produce other names.
The point is clear: whatever the role of technology in litigation search, and however sophisticated it becomes, human review retains its place alternatively to or (more usually) alongside technology as a way of getting quickly and efficiently to the document set which matters.
If we leave aside those who sensibly and genuinely see the need to consider all possible ways of handling documents efficiently, there are growing external pressures on the rest to do so; they include increasingly active management by judges, competition with others for client business and, in some cases, mere survival as a litigation practice. Check it out, as they say in some circles.