The Impact of Software on eDiscovery Cases

Clay Campbell is a civil litigation attorney with broad experience representing individuals, businesses, and government agencies in construction defect, tort, employment, and commercial litigation. He is also guiding businesses in risk avoidance and management policy formation and implementation.

Tell us a bit about you and your company – in the context of eDiscovery.

CC: I deal primarily with construction cases and construction litigation. I do other types of litigation such as personal injury, but those are small.

What would be a large case in terms of files to be processed?

CC: Anything that is over a couple thousand files, but I have people to help me review the material, and it’s up to each one of us on how fast can we go through the material.

I know that the time allocated per page can be down to a few seconds?

CC: Yes, but that can be enough to figure out whether the file is of interest or not. If I see that this is a forwarded email and the topic is ‘lunch’ or ‘Christmas’ I can just skip the whole thing. On the other hand, important documents are distinctive in format. So if I come across an invoice, I only need half a second to understand it’s an invoice just by looking at the format. The same can apply to other files, so the process can be speedy.

What kind of files are you normally dealing with?

CC: Mainly digital files, a lot of them in PDF format. I deal with paper as well, and we use OCR for that.

What can we find in your toolbox?

CC: I now use Relativity, and in the past I used other products such as Thomson Reuters and others. Right now, I am outsourcing the data processing stage. It’s not cost-effective for us to have all the infrastructure (hardware, software etc.). I am working with a specialized company that does all the de-duplication, indexing, the data massage, and then I do the searches and the review stage.

Do you feel that the tools you use are customizable enough?

CC: To me, not enough. I wish I could do layered searches to segregate batches and also to be able to refine these searches. It should work well and be easy to use, intuitive. Besides that, in my case, I deal with a lot of sketches and pictures. I would love to have a tool that can look at pictures and see damages like cracks in bricks, leak damages, and things of that nature. It would make my life easier. But that should be really accurate, so I’m not sure we’re there yet with the technology.

Anything else that would be useful?

CC: Yes. Better OCR software because it affects the search results. When the OCR has not been done properly due to some scanning issues (paper was creased or text is not crisp enough), it’s difficult to work with the files and it slows us down. I would like some software to analyse sketches and construction plans as this is a considerable part of my work, and it’s the type of files I deal with on a regular basis.

What about redaction tools?

CC: I’m not dealing with a lot of medical and financial documents (i.e. private records), and so what I have can be done manually. Sometimes I just withhold the entire document if it’s not critical for the disclosure. I think redaction tools are feasible only on large cases.

Do you use analytics on big cases?

CC: No, I haven’t tried this kind of methodology yet, but I am very interested in it and I would like to know what it’s capable of.

Would semantic searches get you faster to the smoking gun? Searching for the meaning instead of the actual word of phrase?

CC: That is another thing I would be interested to explore, definitely!

What about the security aspect of an eDiscovery case processing? What can you tell us?

CC: So far I’ve never had any issues. My only concern was that sometimes the end-to-end encryption slows my system down, but I am sure this can be easily fixed. Other than that, yes, I am always mindful of the security aspect, it’s always going to be important in my type of work.

Is there any improvement that you would like to see in the current software that you use?

CC: Yes, there is one. I would like to have a mobile app that allows me to connect to the web platform, so that I can work on my cases from my smartphone. I understand that it might be difficult to have all the capabilities of the desktop version but the minimum of access, review, and tagging would be wonderful and would increase my productivity, for certain.