Following the country-wide tour of The Cowen Group (TCG) Leadership Breakfasts is proving to be valuable and interesting. There are commonalities in each city, such as the fact that most attendees realize that technology-assisted review (TAR) is the inevitable future of legal review and presents new economic opportunities for corporations, law firms, and service providers alike. But, the breakfasts in each city had a unique local flavor.
In New York, the conversation was dominated by the rise of the Senior Associate and the opportunity for those professionals to establish themselves as game-changers in the application of TAR. In Washington, DC, the conversation centered on the skills that will be required in the new world of TAR – project management, communication skills, statistics, and process design and improvement. The Los Angeles breakfast focused on speed bumps and roadblocks in the way of widespread TAR adoption. Not surprisingly, San Francisco featured talk of familiar issues, but with a new focus: how do we accelerate the adoption of TAR and who drives it and leads the investment in it.
In San Francisco, we were lucky enough to have several folks from the eDiscovery team of a large corporation in attendance. This corporation has been experimenting with TAR for some matters. There was no “trigger event,” per se, but rather the company realized that TAR could help bring efficiency to the process of executing on document review for litigation (and the company is heavily involved in litigation). For this particular company, they have found that TAR is beneficial for any case with more than 15K documents involved. But, the company also cites other factors as considerations in whether or not to use TAR, including what court the litigation is in and the type of subject matter involved in a case. Perhaps most interestingly, this company’s in-house eDiscovery team has increased its headcount five times in the last year and a half. This company is an example of one that “gets it.” Its eDiscovery team is smart and not afraid to look at new ways of executing document review.
Clearly, this company is forward-thinking and takes eDiscovery and information governance (IG) seriously. But, it was not the only company in the crowd moving strategically forward. Service providers like Iris and Teris are also making investments in the people, processes, and technologies that will help make TAR more defensible and, ultimately, mainstream. Some of the discussion focused on what David Cowen refers to as the “race to 10K hours.” For what organizations does it make sense to invest in significant TAR hours? Corporations? Maybe a little bit. Law firms? Perhaps. Managed service providers? Most definitely! MSPs are in the best position to invest in TAR expertise while having the ability to provide labor arbitrage across multiple clients and projects. The San Francisco attendees mostly agreed that TAR will change the way corporations, law firms, and service providers do business together – and for the better. It might not be seamless and there will be some bumps in the road, but every organization out there needs to think carefully about how much they invest in TAR expertise and why.
There was also discussion on the new roles that TAR creates going forward. All attendees agreed that what we learn from TAR experiments now will bleed forward into information governance programs. It’s reasonable to think that about five new positions will be created by the emergence of TAR, and TCG and eDJ will outline those new positions in future reports. We all seem to agree that eDiscovery professionals with professional curiosity, a willingness to learn new skills (statistics, technology, process management), and the ability to communicate to a diverse group of constituents are in line for the eDiscovery roles that are evolving or the new roles being created. That’s exciting. That makes for a fun breakfast. If you haven’t had the experience of attending a TCG Leadership Breakfast event, I encourage you to do so. Whether you are sharing your opinion during these interactive discussions, or listening and absorbing, you are part of moving the industry forward.
The next breakfast event is today, Wednesday, August 8 in Chicago, IL. Then we are off to ILTA to speak more on TAR and evolving roles before we take a brief hiatus and return to finish the series in Atlanta and Minneapolis this September. 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.