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E-discovery: sifting through the evidence

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Convergence yet?

Although e-discovery and governance are distinct functions, they are also closely related. “The potential convergence has been discussed for a number of years,” says Ajith Samuel, executive VP of process innovation at Exterro, “but we are now seeing tangible actions from corporations.” Proper governance, including a solid information architecture and records management process, greatly facilitates e-discovery by organizing information and ensuring records that no longer need to be kept can be defensibly disposed.

Exterro provides a software suite with built-in workflows that unifies all phases of e-discovery. It integrates with other enterprise, HR and e-discovery systems for complete, end-to-end management. “Unlike records management, e-discovery is often not considered a core business function,” Samuel says, “but more companies are now seeing that it can extend beyond litigation into such areas as compliance and risk mitigation. For example, if companies use e-discovery proactively to monitor compliance, they can use the technology to classify information as high risk or low risk and address it appropriately.”

Information repositories that are poorly organized or for which ownership is not clear can pose large risks in either e-discovery or compliance scenarios. Companies are aware that this is a risk; in one study, defensible deletion was a priority for about 70 percent of respondents, yet they did not necessarily have a strategy. However, organizations that handle their information successfully can reduce costs, improve performance and manage risk effectively.

Intelligent data reduction

UnitedLex has developed another approach to reducing the volume of material to be analyzed. “Predictive coding requires that all the data be ingested and indexed in order for the system to execute machine learning,” says Dave Deppe, president of UnitedLex. “The costs are high, and you end up finding out that only a fraction of what you collected and indexed is responsive.” The approach that UnitedLex took was to develop a product to filter the information based on human intelligence gathered prior to it being analyzed. “This is a consultant-led, technology-enabled service,” Deppe adds.

The Questio interface guides the user, generally a subject matter expert, in filtering the data. “Questio is used by subject matter experts at the beginning of the e-discovery process to identify the information that could be responsive,” Deppe explains. “They can also eliminate large numbers of false hits that may result from the use of search terms, by applying human intelligence to the data set through the Questio filter facets. This has a material impact on lowering the total cost of the case.”

Visualization of the data may lead the user to additional relevant information. “Questio can show communication patterns among people named in the content,” Deppe says. “In litigation it is important not to spend resources analyzing nonresponsive material, but it’s equally important not to overlook information that could lead to, for example, identifying someone whose data should be on legal hold.”

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