Sunday, November 6, 2011

Researchers find document review software is "superior" alternative to attorneys.

Contract work doing e-discovery document review is one way some attorneys have made ends meet in a tough job market while looking for better, full time positions. We've read reports before that even these safety net jobs may one day be lost to software that can review documents  more efficiently and far less expensively than armies of contract attorneys.  But now a couple of researchers -  a BigLaw attorney working with a professor of computer science - have subjected this kind of software to the Pepsi challenge and found that it is not only a quicker, less costly alternative to flesh-and-blood associates, but it also does a "superior" job in terms of screening material for relevance.

The study is titled: Technology-Assisted Review in E-Discovery Can Be More Effective and More Efficient Than Exhaustive Manual Review and is available at XVII Rich.  J.L. & Tech. 11 (2011). From the abstract:

E-discovery processes that use automated tools to prioritize and select documents for review are typically regarded as potential cost-savers – but inferior alternatives – to exhaustive manual review, in which a cadre of reviewers assesses every document for responsiveness to a production request, and for privilege. This Article offers evidence that such technology-assisted processes, while indeed more efficient, can also yield results superior to those of exhaustive manual review, as measured by recall and precision, as well as, a summary measure combining both recall and precision. The evidence derives from an analysis of data collected from the TREC 2009 Legal Track Interactive Task, and shows that, at TREC 2009, technology-assisted review processes enabled two participating teams to achieve results superior to those that could have been achieved through a manual review of the entire document collection by the official TREC assessors.

Hat tip to attorney@work.


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