Friday, October 28, 2011

As I recall...

We at Valora are occasionally called upon to evaluate the results of traditional document review (read: manual, doc-by-doc review efforts), as a sort of post-project audit.  We use the usual precision and recall metrics to determine whether a document should have been tagged at all and whether it was done so correctly.  While both these measures are extremely important, the truth is it’s really all about the recall.  Let me explain.

If you are supposed to mark 1,000 documents as privileged, and your team only tags 200, does their precision on those 200 really matter?  In layman’s terms:  Do you really care how well those 200 docs scored on accuracy when the reviewers missed 800 documents in the first place?

This is not to suggest that there isn’t a crucial role for precision scoring.  There is!  But, not if you blow it on recall first.  In our above example, if the review team indeed found 1,000 documents and marked them privileged, you would surely wish to score the accuracy of those markings.  But, only if the recall fell within 20% +/- of the intended target.  Well below (or above) this mark, precision is useless info.  So, until as an industry we can demonstrate reliable recall on a regular basis, precision will just have to wait its turn.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Automated Review Reaches National Economic (& Comedic) Proportions

As a big fan of both The Daily Show and Fareed  Zakaria, imagine my surprise and delight when Jon Stewart’s guest, Zakaria, recently told the live studio audience that Automation was changing the way legal work, specifically discovery, was being conducted today!  Perhaps the most interesting quote was
 “…machines can do things that people used to. There’s now computer programs that can do stuff that lawyers used to be able to do, discovery and things like that.  May not be such a bad thing!”

Well, AutoReveiw has now officially reached national, international really, proportions for both economic analysis and comedic value.  Sounds like we’ve about “crossed the chasm” to me.  For the full June 7, 2011 Stewart-Zakaria interview clip, please see Valora’s website, here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"I Can See Clearly Now..."

Many years ago, early in my career, I worked at software powerhouse, Symantec. As they recently announced their intent to acquire Clearwell, I thought I would pass along my insider’s 2 cents on the topic. I became a "Symantian" in 1996 after they acquired a smaller company with a very hot product in a growing market. At the time the company was called Delrina and they made WinFax. You likely had a copy at some point. It was the innovator in using modems to send faxes and make VOIP calls. (I worked on the telephony end - the cooler part!)

In retrospect, the CW deal sounds very similar to the Delrina one and a good example of how Symantec operates. They bought Delrina at the height of its popularity, paying top dollar. Then they decimated the division, laying off more than half the workforce. (I was not laid off, but asked instead to become GM of a division.) They basically never put another dime into development, QA or marketing and rode the product's margins all the way into the sunset until it was obsolete. I suspect they made a fortune as there were few costs beyond the initial acquisition. They picked up the entire user base and locked out all competition. Within 3 years WinFax as a product was gone and it was completely embedded with other Symantec suite products.

Within 12 months, no one will be charging $300/GB to cull with Clearwell. Every client will have it embedded in their enterprise suite and simply perform the culling themselves. 3rd party vendors beware. The Clearwell party is over and the Relativity party is next.