I don’t know about you, but I’m still sifting through all the information I collected during Legal Tech in February. Changes in ediscovery, Google’s release of their new Vault product, and Amazon’s ongoing reduction in the cost of storage and retrieval are all coming together redefine how we deal with documents. When I look at all the new innovations, I am struck by a new paradigm: we need to stop looking at ediscovery as a separate process, and start looking at it as an event in the larger process of managing a document’s total life cycle.
While I was at Legal Tech earlier this year, I briefly spoke to Girts Jansons, the founder of PowerSearch Software. Later, I had a chance to have a longer discussion with Girts to understand the innovation that PowerSearch is driving with their new pricing structure. Pricing? Normally, when you think about innovation in ediscovery, it’s about the technology not the way you get charged. However, this is where PowerSearch has come up with a truly innovative idea, that would change the way we do ediscovery. What’s the big innovation? PowerSearch charges for what you find, not for what you upload. Think of the old “needle in a haystack” analogy we so frequently use for a typical document review. The entire collection of documents is our haystack. Depending on where we are in the review process, the “needle” is either the discoverable documents we need to deliver to the court, or it is the privileged documents we are trying to exclude. Whichever it is, the bigger the haystack the greater the cost of our review. WIth PowerSearch the size of the haystack doesn’t matter as much.Instead what matters is how many needles we find.
I’m going to put aside the question of whether PowerSerch is faster than other products or if other products have more features. In my experience, every lawyer has their own preference for a specific tool, usually based on their familiarity with that tool rather than a recent evaluation of capabilities. Furthermore, while every review must incorporate the use of computers and software, the majority lean more towards linear review and less towards TAR (Technology Assisted Reviews). I will only assume that PowerSearch is a reasonable tool. You can try it yourself and decide if it is better or worse than the tools you use today. Let’s even assume that you continue to use the tools you use today.
PowerSearch allows you to upload and process some or all the documents in a document review into their Cloud based systems. Uploading and processing is free. Therefore, you can complete your document review and then have PowerSearch review it for free. If you find any additional documents, you only pay a fee for the documents you extract (the more documents the lower the price per document). Once the documents have been processed, you can do other searches as often as you like. This allows you to search a collection of millions of documents in just a few seconds. As we all know, when a document review enters its later stages, the client can provide missing information or provide new information that requires a re-review of all documents. This could destroy the budget of the review, especially a linear review that requires staff to re-read the entire collection of documents. In PowerSearch (or any TAR system) you could update the criteria and look at the new documents in just a few minutes.
Even if you do not want to rely on PowerSearch for the results you present to court, in the late stages of a document review you could run searches to scope the impact of the new client requests. This would tell you if there are few or many documents, and would allow you to quickly respond as to the cost and time for this addition to the review. Of course, if you used PowerSearch as your primary tool, just by asking how many new responsive documents that are would deliver the documents. When you run a linear review, if you make a mistake, you need to redo the entire review, creating the new search criteria and having lawyers re-read the documents. Running a TAR based review just requires an update to your search and… there’s the new documents!
Obviously, starting from the beginning using any TAR based tools will greatly reduce the cost of processing a document review. However, PowerSearch’s new pricing model allows you to add many of the features of TAR, with very little cost. If your linear review caught everything you were looking for, then it will cost you nothing and take little of your time. On the other hand, if you perform your review as you normally would and use PowerSearch for additional quality assurance, any new documents that it reveals could be invaluable. Linear reviews are notoriously inaccurate, but many lawyers still feel that they need to keep their reviews largely linear, until the courts order them to do otherwise. PowerSearch’s pricing model allows you to make cost-effective use of it as a scoping and researching tool, while still using your normal processes for identifying documents. This makes it a great transitional tool, for when your firm is ready to move to a full TAR process. At least, that’s my Niccolls worth for today!