Wednesday, January 9, 2013

12 Tips To Get The Most Out of Technology-Assisted Review ("TAR")

  1. Decide which TAR approach best fits your needs and how you plan to deploy the solution: Do you want the seed set, predictive coding approach or the pattern-matching, rules-based approach? Seed set is good if you don't really know what you want, or you like to "decide on the fly." Rules-based is good if you know what you're looking for and can explain it (similar to how you would train contract attorneys for a large-scale review).

  2. Similarly, do you want TAR as a service or do you want to install a product? Products are typically lower-cost, but less featured or customizable to your specific needs. Services typically cost more, but usually include expert analysis and consulting as part of the package. One consideration in product vs. service is how frequently you encounter a need for TAR and how similar each instance is to the next. Higher frequencies would lead you towards a product, but low similarities across needs would lead you towards services. Remember to include both hard costs (typically dollars outlaid) and soft costs (such as training time and expenses, storage needs, platform support, etc.) in your analysis.

  3. Be realistic about how much you will rely on the coding performed by tool or process and what level of QC you will require. Will you eventually have "eyes on" every document or will you only put "eyes on" subsets of the documents based on relevance or issue criteria? Understanding this early will help you to make the right decisions on pricing, implementation and staffing.

  4. Get comfortable with pricing metrics conversions. Some solutions are sold per document or file, some per GB and some per hour. Here's how to translate between those metrics. Assume: ~ 6,000 docs/files per GB (post processing), and ~ 50 docs/files reviewed per person per hour. Now you can compare pricing for different solutions!

  5. Be explicit about your needs. Do you want a simple yes/no answer for privilege or do you want to know which types of privilege are being invoked? Ex: attorney-client vs. work product. Same for relevance. Is it enough to know simply that a document is relevant or do you need to know why it is relevant (and/or to what degree)?

  6. Map out your workflow and strategy. You (or your client) will need to defend your document production approach. For maximum defensibility, make sure your process is repeatable and transparent. Be wary of TAR solutions that do not disclose why or how propagated decisions are made. Be similarly cautious of solutions that yield different results when different people are "manning" them. Furthermore, make sure that the provider will back you up by providing tangible proof to support the defensibility of the process.

  7. Understand that TAR is an iterative process. The more guidance and feedback you provide, the stronger the results will be. Do not expect the first round to be perfect. You and the systems will both get better over time. As a rough rule of thumb, expect 4-5 iterations.

  8. Think about Exception Handling. Even the best TAR solutions will encounter "problematic" documents from time to time. How will you handle hand-written documents, custom application files or documents written in foreign languages? A good TAR solution should be able to easily identify the docs/files it cannot handle and remove them from the automated processing queue. In other words, don't pay twice for documents that will ultimately need manual processing.

  9. Make good use of Issue Codes. Most sophisticated TAR solutions can handle multiple Issue Codes, providing very helpful tagging and organizational information for Hot or Responsive documents. A consultative TAR solution provider can help you maximize your Issue Codes protocol so that it complements and enhances the production.

  10. Be aware of potential privacy concerns. Many document collections have sensitive or personally identifying information (PII) in their contents that cannot be openly shared. Sophisticated TAR techniques identify, cull and/or automatically redact this information prior to production. TAR approaches can save many hours of manual effort to cleanse data for production.

  11. Choose your solution carefully. Expect that your needs will change over time, both in general and across a single matter. Ideally, the solution provider has full, unfettered access to the TAR engines, so that they can be custom-tailored to your (or your client's) exact circumstances. Be wary of "one size fits all" solutions.

  12. TAR Beyond Document Productions. TAR has uses far beyond review for responsive and privilege. Consider utilizing the techniques when you (or your client) are on the receiving end of a large volume of data. TAR processes can be extremely cost-effective at organizing, cataloging and indentifying trends and data threads in incoming material.