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Finding and sharing salient information amidst a multitude of records

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KM applications are being used to improve records and information management for e-discovery, collaboration, governance and other critical business objectives.

Bennett Borden, a partner at Drinker Biddle & Reath, a nationwide law firm based in Philadelphia, had seen the benefits of a state-of-the-art e-discovery solution while working with two previous law firms. One of the first things Borden did when he joined Drinker Biddle & Reath more than 18 months ago was to bring in Recommind’s Axcelerate product to research, collate and assemble electronic records into reports. The electronic records for a single case can sometimes number into the millions.

“In 2006, the federal rules for discovery changed to include discovery of electronic information. There’s a vast amount of it,” says Borden, who had worked with Recommind at the two prior firms. E-discovery includes the collection, processing and analysis of e-mail and other electronic documents that might be relevant to a case, including determination of whether the documents are indeed relevant.

What sets Recommind apart from many industry solutions, according to Borden, is the ability to prioritize records and pull together similar records. Axcelerate’s adaptive batching expedites the feedback loop on search or analytics-based document sets, making continued batching not just automatic, but also conditional on the relevancy found through sampling. That enables a law firm to determine by batch if certain records are indeed relevant to a case, rather than reviewing them individually, he says.

Two examples

Borden points to two cases as evidence of Axcelerate’s value to his firm. The first was a sensitive investigation that only the company’s CEO and general counsel knew about, entailing accusations of fraud against six or seven employees, which needed to be investigated without anyone else learning about the case. Drinker Biddle was brought on to analyze documents and to determine whether those claims were true. The firm used Axcelerate to analyze 4.2 million electronic documents in seven days and found that the employees were not committing fraud. The firm also found out that the claims came from a former employee who left the company to work for a competitor.

In the second case, a company wanted to buy another firm in a deal large enough to require review and approval by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). But a third firm was buying stock in the first company to seek to block the deal, which could go through as soon as all of the relevant legal documents, including electronic records, were presented and approved. Time was of the essence because the longer the e-discovery process lasted, the more time the third firm had to buy additional stock in the first firm, increasing its shareholder voting power to reject the deal.

The initial firm that was handling the anti-trust requirements said it would take three months to respond to the information requests. After Drinker Biddle came on board and reviewed 6.7 million documents with Recommind’s technology, the company produced 600,000 relevant documents to the FTC within days. Borden says that would have been impossible with other kinds of technology. He expects to continue to push the envelope with what the firm does with Axcelerate.

Better records collaboration

Long before e-discovery is a consideration, law firms need to review records and other documents for early case assessment, deposition preparation and trial preparation.

Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott, with offices in Chicago and Denver, had tried to pull together those records with a typical document management tool and with trial presentation software, but each lacked key features, so they weren’t acceptable long-term solutions, says Catherine McPherson, litigation management consultant. The trial presentation software didn’t include search, while the document management software didn’t have annotation capabilities.

A new solution was needed because the firm wanted all team members to have easy access to records and other documents, as well as the ability to annotate them and organize them with timelines, arguments and other strategic outlines. The software also uses deduplication to maximize efficiency when pulling together documents.

So McPherson was in the market for a hybrid solution when Opus 2 International unveiled its Magnum software. “I had known [Opus founder and CEO] Graham Smith-Bernal for about eight years, so I had an idea about Magnum before they rolled out the U.S. version at a New York legal tech show.”

“It just works”

The firm started running the application in the middle of the year and saw advantages immediately, according to McPherson. “The main benefit is that they use it. It just works. Our attorneys can quickly search, annotate and link to portions of documents. It saves our attorneys lots of time, and since we don’t bill by the hour, it fits perfectly with our business model. The collaboration capability is quite robust,” she says.

Users can share their work product with any other users or groups of users via a one-click e-mail alert. The alert automatically includes a direct link to the note and passage so the recipient can log in from anywhere, review the remarks and continue the discussion thread within Opus 2 Magnum. Additionally, multiple users can “chat” within the application.

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