Technology-Assisted Review Improves eDiscovery

Over the past decade, technology-assisted examination (TAR) has become an increasingly important tool in eDiscovery, a legal practice that collects and produces discovery documents electronically. TAR is a multi-step process that enhances human review with computer software that identifies relevant documents for legal research. As attorneys train the software, it learns to accurately identify and highlight relevant information and provide quality control.

Although the industry is generally opposed to technological advancements, TAR is a rare exception that has been rapidly adopted. With the release of TAR 2.0, however, some lawyers are unsure whether it is a worthwhile upgrade and how reliable, accurate and beneficial the new version can be.

About Technology-Assisted Review

TAR, also known as Computer Aided Review (CAR), is a tool for managing the review phase of eDiscovery using algorithms that can identify documents of interest. This dramatically improves discovery review speed without sacrificing accuracy or thoroughness.

There are many different approaches to TAR, but it’s typically used to monitor documents in tandem with a human reviewer. Using natural language processing, a type of artificial intelligence, the system identifies words and phrases that may be important and flags them. Tags are usually based on privilege, relevance, and other details.

The best part about this tool is that it learns along the way, so it can identify and highlight documents that may be important and prioritize them. TAR has been accepted by US courts since Da Silva Moore vs. Publicis Group & MSL Group.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of technology-assisted examination?

TAR saves time and money in eDiscovery by reviewing documents faster than a traditional manual review. Lawyers no longer charge by the hour for tedious document review, ensuring they focus their efforts on high-level, strategic work.

With the release of more advanced TAR tools, it is more affordable than it was before. TAR is no longer limited to large and prestigious law firms and departments. It’s also available in a variety of options, including cloud-based and subscription-based solutions that eliminate upfront purchase costs and ongoing maintenance costs.

With continuous active learning models, the system learns along with the review team, delivering more efficient and defensible results. Intuitive dashboards are quick to learn, even for non-technical staff members. TAR reduces costs and faster turnaround times help lawyers strategize cases quickly and thoroughly. Above all, with early assessment of cases and opportunities to choose witnesses and defenses early.

However, TAR has some drawbacks when it comes to transparency. Which is vital to the process, not just for its success but in accordance with the law. As stated in Da Silva Moore, “transparency allows opposing counsel (and the Court) to be more comfortable with computer-assisted review, thereby reducing fears about the so-called ‘black box’ of technology.” Based on this decision, it is important that attorneys document every step of the TAR process to keep it transparent and defensible. With TAR 1.0, this may mean producing the seed set used for initial training.

TAR can reduce human error, but it is important for lawyers to remember that it is not foolproof. If this is questioned, confidential or privileged documents could be disclosed along with sensitive documents. It is essential that lawyers enter into protective orders and retrieval agreements that guarantee the return of documents accidentally disclosed upon discovery.

Finally, lawyers must have a thorough understanding of eDiscovery approaches to make the most of their abilities. Using ART can reduce time and costs, but only if used correctly.

How Do Lawyers Use Technology-Assisted Review?

In the early stages of a case, attorneys can use TAR to assemble and review documents that may be produced by discovery. This information can then be used to advise a client on the best strategy. Lawyers can also use TAR to structure the case, identify parties to file, develop strategic defenses, and other case-related tasks. For many law firms, TAR is a tool for in-house attorneys to manage the eDiscovery process.

It is important to note that TAR is not intended to replace humans, nor can it. TAR is used to enhance human efforts by providing improved speed, accuracy, and efficiency in the review process. It also reduces errors, which are common for lawyers after reviewing document after document.

What is the difference between TAR 1.0 and TAR 2.0?

There are several types of ART in development, but they can be categorized into these two formats:

TAR 1.0 is a subject matter expert that performs an initial review of privilege, relevance, responsiveness, and other information from “seed sets” of documents. Review decisions are intended to train the software to locate important information and classify documents based on these parameters.

TAR 2.0 is similar, but uses continuous active learning and initial review by lawyers. However, the software continues to learn after the initial coding instructions. As the attorneys review the documents and the software uses the coding decisions, the review process speeds up.

Perspectives on technology-assisted examination

TAR has been revolutionary in helping eDiscovery teams achieve greater efficiency, but not all lawyers and firms agree with the increasingly complex technology and its capabilities. Some lawyers can’t live without it, while others think it’s time for the technology to retire. Ultimately, it’s about using the tool correctly. Like other technology solutions, TAR is meant to improve, and it must be used correctly to see its benefits.

There are also various other tools that can be used to streamline the process and reduce manual effort, such as combining TAR with automation from law practice management software. Together, these tools can simplify the eDiscovery process and identify key information faster.

In an industry typically slow to innovate, TAR quickly disrupted the eDiscovery process. As AI gains prominence in the legal industry, TAR will become increasingly important in how law firms integrate emerging technologies into their operations.

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