A proper welcome to Xerox XLS as a sponsor of the eDisclosure Information Project

The logo of Xerox Litigation Services – XLS appeared here shortly before I set off on last October’s race from continent to continent. I wrote a brief welcome at the time but wanted to find out more about the company’s litigation software and services before writing a fuller article. I have now had the opportunity of speaking to Senior Classification Analyst Amanda Jones, of hearing an excellent webinar which she gave with Cleary Gottlieb, and of meeting up in Oxford just before Christmas with COO Chris O’Brien and with Chris Stephens who looks after client services for XLS in the UK. I am, accordingly, now equipped to write properly about what XLS has to offer.

This post covers what XLS does by reference to its web site, reports on my conversation with Amanda Jones and the webinar, explains the UK set-up and, not least, gives advance notice of a US-UK judicial round-table at LegalTech in New York.

The Xerox XLS Software and Services

You can deduce a certain amount about XLS from the mere fact that it employs a Senior Classification Analyst. The emphasis which appears from the website, from my conversations and from the webinar, is on supplementing the skills of the legal team with a combination of hosted software solutions and professional skills in a way which keeps the lawyers in charge of the process whilst taking away those parts – which will vary from client to client – which the lawyers do not want to do, may not have the skills or equipment for, or which can be done better and at lower cost by delegation to XLS. The recurring theme is one of maximising lawyer input where it counts.

The main components of the XLS software and service offering appear from its website. The core application is the OmniX Review Technology, a hosted service which delivers documents to the lawyers’ desktops for them to review, search, tag and analyse. CategoriX is XLS’s software for automatic document classification which applies statistical and machine-learning techniques to prioritise documents for review, for quality control, issue coding and document reduction. It was this which was the subject of the webinar mentioned above, to which I will return below. These software applications, together with a new Legal Hold application, are supplemented by eDiscovery Services and eDiscovery Consulting.

The Human Involvement in the Process

The key message which I took away from my long conversation with Amanda Jones was not really about technology at all, but about the human involvement by the lawyers who take responsibility for the discovery. They are intelligent people, and could learn about the technology, but from a practical and strategic position it makes more sense for them to play to their own strengths. Defensible discovery now involves statistics, linguistics and other technical skills; the lawyer brings his or her knowledge of the case, of the issues, the facts and people, and the law, leaving it to Xerox to provide both the technical expertise and the workflow and validation functions and techniques.

There is no push-button solution, and lawyers would not like it if it was on offer, nor do they like the idea that overall responsibility is being taken away from them. What they – and their clients – need is that the expensive drudgery of conventional techniques be replaced not simply by technology, but by an informed and collaborative use of technology. This is what Xerox XLS brings to them.

XLS Webinar – Demystifying Technology

The XLS webinar Demystifying Technology was given jointly by Amanda Jones and Eli Nelson of Cleary Gottlieb. It is still available as I write, sensibly without any registration or downloading formalities (I say “sensibly” because of my continuing mystification at marketing departments who generate content which they want people to see or hear and then erect barriers to make it difficult). Unusually for me (I prefer to read than to listen, whether for work subjects, fiction or the news), I actually listened to this presentation from beginning to end and took copious notes. I will not repeat those here, because the webinar is so accessible and packed with useful ideas that it makes more sense simply to recommend that you listen to it. Some one-liners from my notes give you the flavour of it:

  • In conventional review, associates immerse themselves in the matter and its issues and then explain it to the team; there is no great difference when you are training an algorithm
  • Each iteration gets you further down the line; you recoup all of the training time “and then some” from the consistency which you get as a result of extrapolation from the training, which pays dividends in the end
  • Distinguish between chronological time and man-hours in assessing the overall time taken – this route never takes more man hours
  • Training includes the conclusion “you are right here but you’re not right there” and the results become consistent
  • You never have time properly to QC the results of a human review
  • Associates are performing higher quality work; you maximise the brain of educated workers for nuanced analysis
  • Lawyers make consensus-based decisions about relevance at the outset, then memorialise their decision for the algorithm to run with
  • Beware the seduction of “easy numbers” and the difficulties in reducing non-binary decision-making to yes/no decisions – thus the focus on prioritisation.
  • Much of the point of QA is to identify anomalies

There is plenty more like this. The webinar would be persuasive listening for those who are concerned at what they see as the arrogation of their role by outsiders and by technology. The emphasis given by Amanda Jones and Eli Nelson to the lawyer-centric nature of this type of collaborative working make it clear that this is far from what actually happens.

Xerox XLS in the UK

Chris Stephens explained to me how the XLS software and processes have been implanted in the UK. Xerox Litigation Services works for existing and new XLS clients from its office in Long Lane, London SE1, and from a processing and hosting facility at Telford. The process will vary with the client and the job. Data may be delivered to Telford in physical form or uploaded to there, depending on volumes and other implications. It is quickly made available to the lawyers in a form which takes account of any initial discussions specific to the case as well as standard XLS procedures. As in the US, the XLS consultants play whatever role is required for the case, and to whatever degree is necessary or helpful to the clients.

Chris Stephens has moved here with his family, so Xerox clients can expect continuity. I saw a detailed recruitment advertisement placed by Project Counsel before Christmas for an Operations Manager to oversee a team of technical analysts at Telford. The signs are that XLS is set to become a significant player in the UK eDisclosure/eDiscovery market.

Judicial Round-Table at LegalTech

XLS are holding a breakfast Roundtable at LegalTech on Monday 31st January from 8.00am to 9:30am at the Flathotel. The speakers include US Magistrate Judges Andrew Peck, David Waxse and Frank Maas, and the UK’s Senior Master, Steven Whitaker. The subject is technology assisted review. That subject and that speaker list warrants an early start on that first day of LegalTech. I will be there.

It is obviously very welcome to me to have a company of this size and reach as a sponsor of the eDisclosure Information Project. The webinar and the judicial breakfast give hints of an educational commitment in which I am keen to take my part.

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About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
This entry was posted in Discovery, eDisclosure, eDiscovery, Electronic disclosure. Bookmark the permalink.

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