Updated: Dec 19, 2020
Emerging and evolving technologies are changing the ways we communicate with colleagues. As a result, what is discoverable and the ways in which we work are in flux, causing organizations to rethink their approach to leveraging and understanding enterprise data.
In addition to new data channels, other pressures are building on in-house teams to accelerate their evolution:
More work is moving in-house to reduce costs, so legal departments are being asked to do more with the same resources.
The rate at which data is being created is growing exponentially faster every day.
With ever more sensitive data popping up across channels, and the tactics of nefarious actors becoming more sophisticated, the stakes for safeguarding information have never been higher.
Regulation and data privacy concerns continue to grow, often putting an unexpected squeeze or show-stopping subpoena on the table.
Though these pressures have become quite taxing, they also present an opportunity for organizations to think more strategically.
On this path toward transformation, the application of technologies like analytics and automation are growing commonplace within legal work—and these tools present opportunities as well as challenges.
Analytics and Automation 101
The term “analytics” means different things to different people, but in the context of the legal and e-discovery worlds, they are tools that allow you to automatically digest and categorize large volumes of documents and help bring meaning to the surface faster. Running analytics helps streamline the review process, minimizing the time your review team would otherwise spend tracking down scattered email conversations or coding irrelevant documents.
These tools might take the form of structured analytics such as email threading, near duplicated identification, or name normalization. Such features are designed to look at the backend information about your documents, so they can be properly organized and displayed in a way that makes reviewing them more intuitive.
There are also conceptual analytics capabilities like clustering visualizations, keyword expansion, sample-based learning, and much more. This type of technology looks at the human content in your documents to understand themes and relationships. Automating the uncovering of those themes via workflows like technology-assisted review can dramatically improve your efficiency.
Any one of these features will make a difference in your projects, but they all serve different purposes and they’re even more powerful when you use them in conjunction.
This may shock you, but e-discovery work is not all glitz and glamour. There can be a fair amount of manual and repetitive tasks that must be completed before you can even begin review. This can range from updating your dtSearch index after you’ve imported new documents, to running your search term reports, setting up your analytics indexing, or refreshing your cluster visualizations. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
By identifying and automating these manual steps in the case setup process, there is great potential to unlock more efficiency.
Automated workflows are a repeatable process that you can run on every case and every time within the case when new data is added. These processes allow administrators to define a set of actions that occur after a specific trigger happens in either a templated or customizable fashion. Admins can select specific prompts that automatically kick off processes in RelativityOne to eliminate manual work and allow them to focus on value-driven activities.
How They Deliver Value to In-house Teams
Using analytics and automated workflows in conjunction is where the real magic happens.
Together, they can produce efficiencies many times greater than the sum of their parts—and you can truly optimize your legal department of tomorrow.
Implement simplified workflows.
By reducing your team’s touchpoints in your e-discovery platform to the ones that matter most, you can ensure you are taking a focused approach to your review work and minimizing distractions. With the growing demands on your team, why not spend more time on the activities that move your business forward rather than on time consuming administrative processes? Automation helps to take some of the drudgery away.
Understand the facts of a case more quickly.
Getting to the truth of a matter sooner gives you the clearest picture of the risks and facts, enabling your team to make the most informed decisions possible. Analyzing data based on concept—rather than just named terms—circumvents the problem of not knowing what you don’t know and can even help you uncover nuances in your data, such as code words and other phrases you may have otherwise missed. With this approach, you can attain a more straightforward and complete understanding of increasingly complex matters and strategize accordingly.
Reduce data volumes.
You can automatically weed out repeated, non-relevant content with spam and disclaimer removal, de-duplication, and similar options using analytics. By cutting through enormous amounts of likely irrelevant data in this way, you can home in on what is truly insightful to a matter and dramatically cull data volumes. This reduction will pay huge dividends by quantitative measures—from reduced storage and processing to much shorter review time—and the benefits become increasingly apparent as work moves downstream.
Reduce opportunities for human error.
The fewer instances you invite error-prone human interaction into a process, the less exposure you’ll have to potential mistakes. By greatly reducing the risk of accidents or oversights via automation, we can help reduce the associated downtime and costly rectifications. This is really about mitigating risks and adding more predictability and dependability into your department’s operations.
Be ready for what's on the horizon.
You don’t want to wait until that next big matter comes knocking to try and implement these solutions. Best practice is to take those first steps before trouble hits, so you’re more capable and prepared for that next matter. Now and down the road, by freeing up resources with analytics and automated workflows together, you’re helping to put time back into your team’s day.
This is by no means an exhaustive look at how in-house departments will need to adapt to the changing landscape. In fact, it really just scratches the surface. When a well-rounded tech stack is properly deployed, the benefits can take an in-house team of any size to a new echelon of performance and capability.
Dylan Salisbury is a product marketing manager at Relativity, where he specializes in understanding and serving the corporate community.