Artificial intelligence (AI) garners enthusiasm in legal forums around the globe for good reason — it provides versatile mechanisms to streamline the process of finding and using documentary evidence. But AI is only one of many ways in which your law firm can optimize discovery processes and level up operations. If AI is something you, like many law firms, are still working toward implementing, here are three game-changing operational suggestions that will help modernize and enhance discovery.
1. Boost early case assessment (ECA) using systematic search visualization
ECA is an important phase in ediscovery projects. It allows legal teams to narrow down their document populations, get a handle on the potential issues within, and identify who might be an important witness based on communication patterns, for example.
At its most basic, an effective ECA strategy will aid the determination of strategic recommendations to the client regarding potential liability (both financially and reputationally) that might impact the decision to settle early or pursue a matter further. Once a decision is made to continue with a case, ECA can then help formulate a stronger discovery and case strategy to get the client to their desired outcome.
But just as each trial varies in complexity, so too do the tactics required to unearth the evidence needed to make these recommendations or build your case strategy. Often ECA only allows decision making based on limited information — such as the title, date created, or date sent — preventing attorneys from getting the full value of documents early and obtaining substantive information at the start of a case.
Fortunately, there’s a solution that can remove some of the guesswork in the ECA process: search visualization with whole document visibility.
Leveraging search visualization tools, law firms can expedite and simplify the time-consuming analysis of electronically stored information (ESI), keeping time frames to a minimum while maximizing case understanding and analysis. Combined with the ability to view the document in its entirety, as opposed to just metadata in a spreadsheet or SQL database, attorneys suddenly have an opportunity to understand the facts and personnel involved in cases far earlier than before.
Search visualization provides an opportunity to near-instantaneously identify trends and “hotspots” across a document set, like increased activity over a certain time period, an unexpected lack of documents from a particular custodian, or even to identity potential trade secret theft or possible whistleblowers when you can see employees sending emails to personal email addresses outside the company.
It is important to remember, however, that not all search visualization tools are born equal. Some are part of a piecemeal conglomeration of technologies stacked on top of one another to provide the desired outcomes — resulting in a clunky user experience and perhaps greater costs upfront. Others may only work in a portion of the product or only work once data has been promoted to active review. Consider choosing a tool that enables you to interactively visualize your entire document set even if it is large and has not been promoted to active review, with zero setup. It is also worth considering partnering with a technology that enables your team to use visual search tools in multiple methods to ensure your team gets the most out of the technology, while also allowing for the option to drill down in real time.
2. Enhance the deposition process through automation
As legal technology evolves, lawyers have an ethical duty to become technologically competent. Legal commentators and regulators from the ABA to the state bar associations of more than 36 states recognize this duty and require it of their attorneys. This duty of technological competence is not limited to technology-driven tasks like document review, but applies across the spectrum of services provided by firms.
In depositions, specifically, there is a swath of low-value, redundant, and siloed work that can appropriate a lawyer’s time away from the development of a case strategy and increase the cost of resolving a matter. Think re-reviews, or manual note-taking on written and PDF documents, and unforeseen ramp-up costs for new case team members.
Thankfully, the same benefits that programs like ediscovery review software provide have come to assist in the deposition review and trial preparation process. So how can embracing automation and cloud technology in depositions help meet the duty of competence, shepherd the client’s dollar, and repurpose a lawyer’s time away from rote work to building better case themes and strategy? Here are just a few examples:
- Search across all depositions and work product in seconds and identify larger case themes with complete context by viewing automatically synchronized video testimony, transcripts, exhibits, and team notes side by side.
- Collaborate on case strategy with annotations, notes, comments, and issues, ensuring teams always have information when they need it at any time, from anywhere with an internet connection via cloud storage.
- Prevent duplication of effort and ideas with shared work product.
- Build a better case strategy with automatically created and pre-formatted deposition and issue summarization and work product.
- Eliminate the time and mental load required by switching between applications and papers to work with transcripts, exhibits, video, notes, summaries, and team communication.
- Select the best expert witnesses for your case faster and with less risk using searchable witness profiles and assessments (wouldn’t it be nice to say goodbye to the “pardon the interruption” emails?).
Procuring the right solution that can automate tasks such as building designation tables, Bluebook citation formatting, time coding, and video clip preparation will give you back more time than you might think.
3. Prioritize high-value strategic work
Spending hours of your week mired in repetitive, rote, and stress-inducing tasks associated with document review must also become a routine of the past if firms want to refocus their energy on winning clients and creating great case strategy. Think spinning wheels of death, manual tag assignment, janky or unresponsive search tools, and hair-raising, last-minute quality control (QC) routines.
Here, as above, technology can help. So too can partnering with a professional managed review service. But, for document review that won’t test your patience, consider engaging a managed review provider that combines access to powerful AI-assisted ediscovery technology, a fantastic team of experts, and battle-tested workflows — that provide relief to the fury-inducing processes of managing or performing a review on your own, by offering:
- Tag predictions integrated into filters and search visualizations — helping lawyers review documents faster and more accurately
- Easy-to-use filters — that help lawyers quickly navigate to and between documents
- AI that learns — that makes informed recommendations based on previous actions
- Cross-matter AI — that provides insights into likely responsive data sets before reviewing a single document
- Professional services support — that can execute the less desirable aspects of document review
- AI models that update every few hours — that reduce wasted time and effort
Set your case teams up for greater success with tools and services that take the pain and unforeseen cost out of document review — find the evidence faster and help them get better legal outcomes more cost-effectively.
Up. Down. Left. Right. A. B. Start.
There’s no cheat code you can activate to streamline your law firm’s processes. However, success can be found at the intersection of cutting-edge software, guided learning, and expert support. Find out more about what DISCO can do for you – with or without AI – by selecting an option below.