The Best Place to Perform Technology Assisted Review (TAR)

The resulsts of eDiscovery Solutions Group (eDSG) Weekly Survey on “Where is your Technology Assisted Review (TAR) done?” are in and they reveal that 43% of the respondents are outsourcing  their Technology Assisted Review (TAR) to third party document review providers.  These results seem to be somewhat contradictory to the prime objective and overall value proposition of the Legal Services Outsourcing (LSO) or Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) vendors to provide less expensive manpower for labor intensive tasks such as document review.

However, according to a report on the Top Ten Trends in Legal Outsourcing for 2012 by Fronterion LLC,  legal technology platforms (such as TAR) will be increasingly bundled together with traditional LPO offerings, combing two of the most important trends shaping  the legal profession today.  This means using software systems as well as low cost human labor to provide  cheaper  and more efficient legal services.

This trend seems to actually have been evolving for years as legacy LPO players have long been utilizing software tools and techniques during the document review processes including: document clustering, email thread management and keyword and concept search to cull and organize the documents in order to increase the speed and reduce the overall cost of review.  Adding predictive coding to mix as a way to reduce the cost even further seems like a logical progression in the evolution of the LPO as they strive to maintain their margins.

The percentage of the respondents  that chose something other than an LSO for where they send their Technology Assisted Review (TAR) also provided some interesting results:

  • Outside Counsel (14%)
  • Internal as part of Document Review Software (14%)
  • Internal as separate Technology Assisted Review (TAR) Software (29%)

The fact that 14% of the respondants chose Outside Counsel for where they send their Technology Assisted Review (TAR) indicates that although the eDiscovery market is going through a paradigm shift with corporate legal departments bringing eDiscovery services in-house, there are still some legal departments relying on their outside counsel for eDiscovery services.  An interesting question for a future eDSG poll would be whether or not legal departments send their TAR to outside counsel because their outside counsel is proficient at TAR or because they send all of their eDiscovery work to outside counsel.   It would also be telling to investigate whether or not these outside counsel are performing the TAR services internally or sub-contracting them to an LPO or LSO.

The results of the eDSG 2012 Survey of the General Counsel from the Global 250 indicated that 86% of the respondants send their document review to either outside counsel or an LPO.   However, the survey also revealed that 75% of the respondants were frustrated that neither outside counsel nor legacy LPOs were providing adequate support for eDiscovery.  This survey also revealed that 80% of general counsel from the global 250 were frustrated with having to deal with software vendors.  This statistic leads into the last two facts from the eDSG weekly poll on where respondents are sending TAR.  The poll reveals that 43% are performing TAR internally which indicates that they are having to “deal” with software vendors.  The eDSG weekly poll is open to anyone that wants to vote and therefore the respondants are not necessarily general counsel from the global 250.  In fact, I would venture to say that very few is any of the respondants to this week’s poll were general counsel.  However, it is still significant and shows a trend that 43% of the respondants indicated that they are performing TAR internally.

The fact that 14% of the respondents chose Internal as part of Document Review Software for where they send their Technology Assisted Review (TAR) indicates that some of the document review vendors have successfully integrated TAR into their review platforms.

However, the fact that 29% of the respondants chose Internal as separate Technology Assisted Review (TAR) Software for where they send their Technology Assisted Review (TAR) indicates that eDiscovery users are not yet comfortable with TAR and may not be ready to use it as part of their stand document review process. However, this statistic is significant enough to indicate that eDiscovery users understand the value of TAR and are therefore using in those situations where it satisfies the technical and legal requirements.

The resulsts of eDiscovery Solutions Group (eDSG) Weekly Survey on “Where is your Technology Assisted Review (TAR) done?” reveals that users within the eDiscovery market is still trying to figure out when, where an how to best utilize Technology Assisted Review (TAR).  Complicated by the ongoing paradigm shift of responsibility for eDiscovery services moving to the legal deparments and exaserbated by the evolution of both LPOs and outside counsel trying to refine their business models, TAR users should take the time to understand their internal requirements and then investigate the best approach, partners and place to perform TAR.  It may not be as straight forward to they think.

Click Here to view the results of the eDiscovery Solutions Group (eDSG) Weekly Survey on “Where is your Technology Assisted Review (TAR) done?”.

About Charles Skamser
Charles Skamser is an internationally recognized technology sales, marketing and product management leader with over 25 years of experience in Information Governance, eDiscovery, Machine Learning, Computer Assisted Analytics, Cloud Computing, Big Data Analytics, IT Automation and ITOA. Charles is the founder and Senior Analyst for eDiscovery Solutions Group, a global provider of information management consulting, market intelligence and advisory services specializing in information governance, eDiscovery, Big Data analytics and cloud computing solutions. Previously, Charles served in various executive roles with disruptive technology start ups and well known industry technology providers. Charles is a prolific author and a regular speaker on the technology that the Global 2000 require to manage the accelerating increase in Electronically Stored Information (ESI). Charles holds a BA in Political Science and Economics from Macalester College.