Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Kevin L. Nichols. Published: 2012-08-15 12:00:11  

At the start of what would have been a normal day at work, I learned that I received an invitation to attend an eDiscovery related breakfast that was set to start in 30 minutes.  Luckily it was located a block away from my office, at the historic City Club in San Francisco (which features an original Diego Rivera mural in it…as I digress).  Not knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised, no, completely flabbergasted that this event was taking place and I had never heard of it, or the Cowen Group prior to my arrival.  I quickly learned that the Cowen Group is a highly regarded staffing, recruiting, and management consulting firm geared specifically towards eDiscovery/litigation technology professionals.  The Cowen Group is sponsoring Leadership Breakfasts in cities across the country such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.  Obviously, being here in the Bay Area, this breakfast specifically had a tech industry focus.

When I arrived, the attendees were mingling and networking with one another over coffee before the program began.  I met litigation support professionals from law firms, corporate counsel from tech giants such as Google and Netflix, and vendors with expertise spanning across the entire EDRM. The program was led by managing partner, David Cowen, a jovial yet dynamic speaker that covered the staffing needs of the future and technology assisted review (“TAR”)’s role in them.Here some of the interesting points and/or arguments Cowen made during his interactive presentation:

  • The legal industry is currently worth $2 Billion;
  • TAR is worth roughly $100 Million of this total;
  • Most of the attendees agreed that civil litigation and regulatory litigation are rising; and
  • Regarding TAR’s use, many felt that it made sense when you had enormous corpuses of documents/data, and there was a steep educational component involving a reliable proof of concept to sell to law firms and corporate counsel.

There were three major takeaways from this breakfast:

  1. A Strong Vendor Selection Process is Imperative – There was healthy discussion on the essential values involved in the vendor selection process.  The group expressed that continuity, project management (including having PMP certifications), documented workflow protocols, productivity policies, and consistency with deliverables are the most important aspects of selecting a vendor in this industry.
  2. TAR Employs the Same Protocols as Linear Review – Traditional linear review uses contract reviewers that are trained by a subject matter expert to be able to identify what documents are responsive/non-responsive, privileged, and pertain to various issues/theories in the case.  Moreover, often times, during the review, new factual information is discovered that require the expert to retrain the review team about new issues to look for or the previous scope of the review has been modified.  Similarly, TAR uses a “seed set” that is trained by a subject matter expert to retrieve related documents based upon the seed set’s criteria.  Often times, the set needs to be “retrained” during the proof of concept phase to insure that the appropriate results are being obtained.
  3. An Emphasis on Workforce Development is Crucial – History often repeats itself.  In 2004, the surge of litigation technology/support professionals emerged to deal with the ever growing advances in technology and electronic data needs.  There are approximately 5,000-8,000 litigation technology professionals in the industry.  It was estimated that it takes 10,000 hours to be considered an expert in a field.  There has not been enough time for the industry to see true experts in the litigation support field, however, the need for these professionals are going to be imperative in the future due to the spike in litigation and Electronically Stored Information (“ESI”).

Cowen argues that vendors will have the financial resources to hire the necessary talent to be successful in the future.  Vendors will need to invest in their people, their process, and their technology in order to earn the trust of their law firm and corporate counsel clients.  In turn, Cowen purports that law firms will move towards a high margin work and a managed services approach utilizing strategic partnerships with their vendors.  Firms will focus more on the practice of law and rely on their vendors to develop and maintain their technologic needs.  Please let us know what you think about this prediction by commenting on this post.  Thanks.eDiscoveryJournal Contributor Kevin L. Nichols is the Principal of KLN Consulting Group located in San Francisco, which specializes in Litigation, Diversity and Business Development/Social Media consulting.For more information, please visit http://www.klnconsultinggroup.com or follow him on Twitter @kevnix or “Like” him on Facebook    

0 0 votes
Article Rating