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3 Experts on What to Watch For in e-Discovery

Drew Deitch

Everyone from Harvard Business Review to TechCrunch has extolled the virtues of the platform model, and why platforms are good strategies for software companies. But why are platforms good for the users of that software?

The answer is simple: platforms allow for faster innovation, and more of it. When developers and service providers build on a platform, they can provide a customized experience for their clients and create solutions to solve users unique problems. The Relativity Innovation Awards celebrate this type of innovation, highlighting what you can do when you have technology that's flexible enough to solve any problem you encounter.

For the 2017 awards, we’ve asked three innovation enthusiasts to join the judging panel and bring their unique perspectives into the deliberation room: Sean Doherty, analyst for governance, compliance, and e-discovery at 451 Research; Kelly Twigger, CEO of eDiscovery Assistant; and Zach Abramowitz, co-founder of ReplyAll.

These judges have built their careers around technology and innovation, so we asked for their thoughts about the past and future of innovation in e-discovery.

Drew: What has been your favorite e-discovery innovation in the last five years?

sean-doherty-100x100.pngSean: Duplicate and near-duplicate analysis to eliminate redundancy and to ’find me documents like this one,’ respectively.



Kelly: I love to see innovations that allow anyone to engage in e-discovery—remote collection, DIY review software, software that guides the user through the application, etc. We use a tool that lets us set up preservation of social media and websites in a few clicks at a cost any client can afford—that’s innovation. My geek self loves the analytics capabilities that allow us to learn faster from data, especially those with fantastic visuals that really paint a picture of the data for a user. 

zach-abramowitz-100x100.pngZach: There are a number of individual innovations I could highlight, but I would like to focus on how the e-discovery industry itself has led to other innovations throughout the legal industry, not necessarily connected to e-discovery. When e-discovery companies began innovating and developing highly sophisticated software, other companies and entrepreneurs began asking, ‘What other technology solutions can we build and market to lawyers?’ and lawyers began asking ‘How else can technology solve our challenges?’ In that way, the e-discovery industry itself has been one of the major driving forces of innovation and has raised the bar for the kind of technology and services lawyers expect.

Where do you think e-discovery will see the most significant innovations over the next five years?

Sean: We will come to know and apply machine-learning technology to help satisfy proportionality in FRCP Rule 26. We can use the technology to reduce the burden or expense of a proposed discovery and put the emphasis of the rule on a discovery's ‘likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties’ resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues.’

Kelly: My hope is we will start seeing more innovation for the bottom 95 percent of the market. All litigators and legal support professionals need better technology and more cost-effective solutions to engage effectively with ESI.

Zach: I expect for there to be continued growth in automation and analytics that will push litigation support teams to develop new expertise. I also expect companies to continue to build solutions that connect e-discovery with the other moving parts of a litigation or an investigation. 

How do you think lawyers and litigation support professionals can contribute to innovation, even if they don’t have programming knowledge?

Sean: Programmers—and perhaps one day, machine-learning programs—create technology to solve problems. Legal professionals can ensure that technology as developed and applied is compliant with existing law and ensure the law is not a barrier to innovation and evolving technology.

Kelly: The biggest and best contributions come in the form of feedback. Software development and innovation are only valuable if they meet the needs of the users, so participating in a user forum, providing feedback on features you want, telling a team what you don't use or why something doesn't work are key. Often those in the legal space are so pressed for time they ignore requests for feedback on products they use and let them languish when they don’t meet needs. You can change that pattern!

Zach: Some of the best legal and e-discovery innovations have been developed by lawyers or litigation professionals who didn't know the first thing about coding, but could identify problems with how they were doing their job. And second, not all innovation is tech. Many times, a change in process can add more value than the most complicated technology.

Celebrate innovations created by the e-discovery community during the 2017 Relativity Innovation Awards at Relativity Fest, October 22 – 25 in Chicago. Check out the Relativity Fest website to learn more about the guest judges, last year’s winners, and how to apply for this year’s awards.

Drew Deitch is commercial lead of Relativity Patents, where he helps patent attorneys and searchers work faster with AI. He's been at Relativity for 10 years, in roles supporting our strategic partnerships, executive team, and product strategy.