What does predictive coding mean for managed document review?
By Juliet Hanna and Erin Tomine
Everyone is talking about predictive coding – one of the tools in the Technology Assisted Review (TAR) toolbox – and technology’s ability to vastly decrease the amount of documents that need to be reviewed by attorneys in today’s world of ever-expanding data volumes. The conversation has evolved rapidly, from early tentative positions – if we can use it – to more affirmative ones – stating how, where, why and when to use such technology, noting defensibility and the courts’ acceptance of its use. However we’ve been puzzled by occasional prognostications of the demise of the use of review attorneys and those who provide managed review services for corporations and law firms.
The rationale for the dour predictions about the role of human review seems predicated on an extreme hypothesis that pits computers against humans with little consideration for practical realities. Support generally rests on studies comparing the respective ability of computers and humans to identify relevant documents in a data set, but interpretations of these studies’ results can be overreaching. The reality is that predictive coding does not work with all types of cases and data, so there will always be matters where all-human review will be necessary. In addition, clients have varying levels of risk tolerance with respect to the use of technology during litigation or government investigations. Some clients prefer to use humans to review their data, while others may seek to employ technological solutions in tandem with human review. Indeed, the use of predictive coding does not replace human review, it merely reduces the data volumes that require review by humans. When predictive coding is utilized, human review actually happens at all points in the process, including seed set training, validations, review of privileged documents and documents to be produced, and so on. To the extent the data sets are suitable for a predictive coding workflow, and all parties are on board with its use, is this a change from the way documents were reviewed previously? Absolutely. Is this a good thing? Yes.
More effective workforce – core teams
We do acknowledge that the days are quickly fading in which huge teams of attorney reviewers tackle hundreds of thousands – or millions – of seemingly unfiltered documents. Before TAR became prevalent, underlying many document reviews was the premise that you needed to have lots of people in order to plow through the documents on first pass review in a timely fashion. In addition to the brute force first pass review team, there was the ever present, but smaller and more senior QC team who would perform the second level work, including privilege and QC review. One of the unstated duties of the QC team was also to clean up any issues created by the first pass team in terms of coding inconsistencies and to recognize and correct any systemic problems with the review. With the increased use of TAR, the format of review has changed dramatically. The QC team of yesterday IS the review team of today, or rather, what we call the “core team” at Integreon. This team can get through the culled-down review populations more effectively and efficiently than the overwhelmingly large review teams of the past. Core teams are now being used with greater frequency and are not only learning these new technologies but also becoming adept and experienced in the best practices for applying them.
At Integreon, we have been using the core team concept on TAR projects for some time, an approach that provides for smaller teams consisting of reviewers with a high proficiency level in all stages of review. These reviewers usually have a greater understanding of the clients or types of litigation involved in the cases they support. Our expert teams of attorney reviewers, enabled by TAR workflows, are able to provide a vastly higher quality of work product than that of the large review teams of the past.
Sophisticated Management Team
Reduced data volumes and improved composition of the review team are not the only changes possible through the use of TAR. We’re constantly developing, testing, and refining innovative workflows that lead to smarter review processes. We are not tied to a purely linear workflow without much deviation from project to project. With increased flexibility in workflows afforded by TAR, our core team of reviewers has become more adaptable and able to understand nuances in workflow requirements while still maintaining the accuracy and efficiency that are the hallmark of the managed review process. But it is not only important for our core teams to be able to thrive in this type of environment, it is crucial for our project manager attorneys to be highly knowledgeable about these advanced technologies and workflows too.
Integreon’s project managers have regularly used or designed TAR workflows to enhance the quality of review exercises. Attorney managers with the knowledge and ability to explain to team members the intricacies and purpose of the varying TAR workflows, and who can design and explain to counsel better ways to accomplish a complex assignment, are essential to today’s managed review process.
Good for us, good for you
Human review is fast evolving into a leaner, more flexible model in which core teams are used to perform all levels of review with precision and maximum efficiency. The core team model allows for the management team to concentrate on workflow and substance rather than the administrative details of managing a huge room full of attorney reviewers. The benefits gained by the use of core teams and TAR are immediately understood by the entire managed review team, and are appreciated by the end-client, since optimized review during discovery results in significant cost savings and a more effective, defensible process.Tweet