I interviewed Brandon Mack of Epiq recently, and opened by asking him what he meant by technology-assisted review. We went on to discuss how technology is changing the practice of lawyers, the widening scope of projects which use eDiscovery tools and skills, the impact of big data and the Internet of Things, and the normalisation of technology as it is seen by judges as well as lawyers. That is quite a lot for one short interview.
Technology assisted review is, Brandon Mack says, a very broad term. The market has seemed to make it synonymous with predictive coding, but in reality technology-assisted review is any mechanism that we use to enhance the effectiveness of review of data. Brandon Mack refers to deduplication as one example; others include clustering and email threading.
It is the business of people like Brandon Mack to help lawyers identify the most efficient and cost-effective way of getting the job done, using whatever tools and human resources are available. You are not limited to any one of them, and a company like Epiq helps you choose and use the right ones for the job.
I asked Brandon Mack how the use of technology tools is changing the practice of lawyers. He comes up with the useful phrase that it “helps lawyers magnify their work” and increases very quickly “the depth of knowledge which lawyers get out of data”. In other words, that apparent ideal of getting more for less appears have a real form when each hour of lawyer time can both get through greater volumes and extract more meaningful information from the data.
Some cases can make better use of this technology than others, and Brandon Mack refers to large cases which are text-heavy as being the most obvious example. He emphasises, however, that TAR covers so many different tools that almost any case can benefit from one or more of them.
This is not just for litigation, for investigations, for regulatory enquiries and for other traditional areas where an organisation has an obligation to produce relevant data for third parties. Companies now can do very much more with their data if they choose to. Brandon Mack says that clients are coming to Epiq whenever they are “looking for truth about what is in their data”.
Another subject which we cover in this interview is the increasing variety in the sources and types of data which organisations keep. The same technology-assisted review tools have application, Brandon Mack says, to big data. We have yet to see what effect these tools can have on that other fast-growing area, the Internet of things.
Asked for a prediction as to the future, Brand Mack foresees the “normalisation” of technology-assisted review tools, with clients and lawyers adapting the way they work to take account of the value given by technology. Increasing awareness on the part of judges is a significant driver for this.