The following article is written by Barry Murphy as co-Founder & Principal Analyst of the eDiscovery Journal.

Cowen Leadership Breakfast talks TAR Metrics

Each of The Cowen Group (TCG) Leadership Breakfasts has its own unique feel. While there are many common discussion points, such as the disruptive nature of Technology Assisted Review (TAR), the need for new skills like project management, and the desire to capture the cost savings TAR promises; each event takes on a life of its own. The Chicago Leadership Breakfast was no different – there was discussion about the benefits of TAR and the challenges to widespread adoption, but there was a more pragmatic feel to the overall discussion and an emphasis on metrics that can prove the value of TAR. It was actually a perfect way to head into the hiatus before the next breakfasts in Atlanta and Minneapolis in September.

The Chicago breakfast featured an emphasis on metrics. Attendees spoke of wanting more tangible measures of the TAR cost savings and quality improvements that take place in real cases. There is a desire to better predict the return on what are potentially large upfront TAR investments. One of the corporate attendees mentioned wanting vendors to be able to come to a sale armed with metrics about how TAR will save costs and improve quality. However, TAR tends to impact different cases in different ways. Because experimentation with TAR is in the very early days, firm metrics are hard to come by. As we take this hiatus before the September breakfasts, we see an opportunity to have an open conference call / webinar to discuss TAR metrics and get the input from the broader market. Attendance will be limited.

As mentioned, the Chicago breakfast was infused with pragmatism. One attendee talked of TAR as simply another arrow in the quiver of a litigator. TAR can accelerate decision-making and speed the time to the facts. It is a superior way to do review using contract attorneys. He pointed out that TAR can lead to higher quality reviews at lower costs. Another attendee noted that TAR is bringing up a quality discussion that our industry has not had before. We know that keywords are going to miss documents, so why are we so concerned that TAR methods like predictive coding be perfect?

The theme of pragmatism continued as the group discussed what TAR is not – it is not a substitute for good processes and people. Rather, the way to think of TAR is as a methodology that marries people, process, and technology. This notion has been echoed at each of the TCG breakfasts and therefore can be thought of as etched in stone. As in previous breakfasts, attendees pointed out that people will need new sets of skills, such as the ability to define processes, measure and improve processes, and manage projects.

The conversation turned to the real practice of TAR and whether or not there is a threshold for when to use TAR. One law firm attendee pointed out that, if you have invested in the technology in-house, there should be no minimum threshold; TAR should be used on all cases. He also pointed out that there is more than just one use-case for TAR – it can be used not only to determine what needs to be produced, but also to quickly go through documents produced by the opposition (this can be very useful when the opposition is simply throwing a ton of information over the fence in the hopes of drowning the case team). For others, though, there will be thresholds, especially if they are paying based on the volume of information. One vendor offered up 50K documents as a threshold, while other attendees had heard of 100K documents as a minimum threshold.

The next breakfast events are in September in Atlanta, GA and Minneapolis, MN. If you would like to be considered for attendance and participation in future discussions, like next week’s shows or others coming up this quarter, please contact TCG Events. In the meantime, if you would like to be part of the open discussion on TAR metrics.