Invitation to a New eDiscovery Manifesto

How can eDiscovery be better?

This critical question has occupied the vast majority of the Baker Donelson eDiscovery Team’s time and attention for many years.

EDiscovery requires the careful coordination of the substantive law firm, the client’s Information Technology (IT) resources, and the necessary outside service providers that provide technology and staffing support. To make eDiscovery “better” requires the close coordination of these participants, much the same as a construction project requires careful planning and excellent execution.

But, “better” is harder to define. It is a loaded and subjective word. (more…)

Legal Artificial Intelligence is Buzzing. Are You Ready?

Artificial intelligence (AI) enabled legal tools are reaching the market at an incredible pace. Understanding and vetting such technology is critical to ensuring better outcomes for legal projects. 

Every day, news articles in my social media feed address some new legal technology powered by AI. The promise of legal AI is incredible. We are looking forward to a future where lawyers’ efficiency and effectiveness is dramatically improved by technology’s virtually unlimited ability to scale. This blog is focused on promoting responsible and knowledgeable adoption of legal AI.

The Millionth Map.

I love old books – actually reading them, that is. Their text is a snapshot in history. One of my recent finds was a series of geography books published in 1960. The volumes included an article regarding “The Millionth Map.” This mapping project was then underway to reduce the world into 961 sections, where one inch of the map would equate to one million inches on the earth (about 16 miles).

The author’s breathless anticipation of this project was palpable. He opined at length as to the benefits of a standardized map that will make comparisons easier, and ensure everyone has access to the information.    (more…)

Calling All Professionals to Passionate eDiscovery – Part Two

As a lawyer, I attend many, many conferences. On my last conference road trip, I was grabbing dinner at the end of the evening and catching up on my basketball news at the hotel restaurant. As I was wrapping up, a few guys came in and we struck up a conversation. Like me, they were in town for the Sixth Circuit Judiciary Conference and we had a conversation which I might characterize as standard conference stuff.

Everything was perfectly “conference standard” until they heard I was going to present on eDiscovery the next morning. All of them had the same reaction: “We hate eDiscovery.” (Thanks, guys. You really know how it pumps me up when I realize everyone in the audience “hates” my topic.)

Of course their comments didn’t come as a complete surprise. This isn’t the first time I’ve spoken to a roomful of attorneys who would rather talk about anything but eDiscovery. As a trial lawyer, I am still surprised when seasoned attorneys, who excel at mastering every detail of complex litigation, view eDiscovery as a nuisance. (more…)

EDiscovery, Lean Manufacturing and Nashville Hot Chicken – Part One

I spend a lot of time in Music City. On a recent trip I stopped by Hattie B’s to try their famous Nashville hot chicken. I placed my order with a guy while he simultaneously jammed to a rock anthem. After hearing my Western Pennsylvania accent, he warned me off of the hottest flavor – “Shut the Cluck Up”. The food came out fast, really hot, and delicious.

The key to great eDiscovery is the same as great Nashville hot chicken: repeatable excellence. Anybody can make a good dinner once. Restaurants like Hattie B’s become local legends by knowing how to deliver a great meal every time.  (more…)

The EDiscovery Outcome Economy Part Two: How to Uncover Value After a Production

To ensure value, eDiscovery projects should look to both provide a compelling narrative to the trial team, as well as continuously improve case outcomes by facilitating case management.

The goal of eDiscovery should be to provide value in enabling better client outcomes. As we talked about last week, value implies more than just a defensible production, which is the bare minimum. Value from eDiscovery comes in two additional ways: (a) providing a compelling case narrative as work product after the review, and (b) facilitating the trial team’s interaction with the data by a thorough understanding of the needs. Last week, we talked about why this is important. This week, we will cover some practical impediments that exist in the eDiscovery industry at large, and then cover some practical solutions to the challenge of providing better eDiscovery value.

Impediments to Facilitating Better Outcomes

Why has so much of the eDiscovery industry stopped short of delivering real client value?

Part of the answer is that eDiscovery’s intrinsic nature as a “manufacturing process” activity has been poorly understood across the legal industry, directly leading to high costs and inconsistent results. Stated differently, if each eDiscovery project is treated as a special snowflake, ignoring that eDiscovery is a repeatable process, the variability of the results/outcomes will get the attention. If eDiscovery is seen clearly as a manufacturing process, however, process deviations will get the attention. (more…)