LegalTech 2014 did not bring a rash of new products. One of the few which caught the eye (I have others yet to see) was Recommind’s Axcelerate 5, which, after two years of work and 300 new features, justified the claim to newness. Apart from improved technology, the focus is on making it easier to use – indeed, the ambition is to that the users should find it positively pleasurable.
I will not take you through the 300 new features – the product description is here – but the main ones include a new (and very crisp) document viewer, redaction on-the-fly in near-native mode, automatic redaction of personally identifiable information and of hits from such terms, the ability to integrate Recommind’s visual analysis tool Hypergraph, and new dashboards for predictive coding and workflow automation.
Some of these expressions have little meaning to potential users when listed like this so I will focus on the three which caught my eye when I saw a demonstration:
Visual analytics, the least easy to describe, allows the user to see groups and connections in a way which is impossible with mere lists. Recommind’s Hypergraph offers the opportunity to change the focus of attention, to identify areas which look interesting, and to drill down into them.
The ability to find and redact certain classes of information – those which appear in a fixed pattern or which match search terms – is a seriously useful tool.
The dashboards make it easy to answer questions like “how much have we found” and “how much is left” and generally to help both administrators and users manage the flow.
As you would expect from a company which has emphasised its predictive coding tools, the focus is on the cost reduction which this technology can bring – Recommind gives as an example a case in which, of a starting population of over 3 million documents, only 5.1919% were reviewed, with a saving of over $1.5 million. Cynics have to take notice of savings of this order.
Recommind says of this that predictive coding has been used simply for “bucketing stuff into responsive and non-responsive documents – the stuff you have to do”. The proper use for technology assisted review they say (and I agree) is to enable the lawyers to find quickly the documents which matter – to identify the facts, adapt to changes, plan a strategy and prioritise the review.
Technology must amplify, and not replace, the lawyer’s capabilities, and we are reaching the point where it is no longer acceptable for a lawyer to turn up his or her nose at “black boxes” without at least going to look at one or two. Recommind’s attention to the user experience makes it easy to demonstrate. When you’ve done that, you can at least say that you have tried and when your client or opponent mentions it, you will know what they are talking about – and what you are missing.
Recommind has seen significant growth in 2013 – processing 75 TB and winning 100 new customers in the year. eDiscovery revenue saw 30% growth. The growth has been especially in Recommind’s on demand offering which is why the development attention has gone there.
The new clients include law firms and corporations involved in insurance, finance and health care. Three quarters of the business is in the US, but take-up is growing quickly in the UK and in Germany (where Recommind’s R&D is run from).
These statistics, and similar ones from the other important players with proper predictive coding tools built into them, give the answer to those who (after sneering about “black boxes”) like to say that they don’t know anyone who is using technology-assisted review. Well, someone is buying it; someone else is running it over your data and finding out things you missed; someone else’s users may even be enjoying their work.