There is a danger of treating discovery as a purely formal process, something done simply in order to meet an obligation. As Craig Earnshaw of FTI Consulting puts it in this interview (video below), the identification of facts often appears as a mere byproduct of that formal process.
Someone clever at FTI Technology came up with the expression Find Facts Fast as a succinct summary of one of FTI’s services to clients. I asked Craig Earnshaw what lay behind this snappy slogan.
Craig Earnshaw explains that Find Facts Fast combines the fast analytical tools in its Ringtail eDiscovery software with a set of methodologies which FTI has created. When these are run by a dedicated team of specialist reviewers, many of them lawyers, it becomes possible to focus the review on the early identification of the key facts in the case.
FTI was a leader in the development of analytical tools, and especially visual analytical tools. I asked Craig Earnshaw why these tools made life easier for lawyers. It is, he said, much easier to work with a large document population, and to identify the key information in it, if you use tools like concept clustering which group similar documents together. You end up with a more consistent output, and more quickly, if similar documents are looked at at the same time.
I asked Craig Earnshaw to explain what FTI meant by the expression “managed review”. Craig explains that traditional means of searching, by keywords and date ranges, now supplemented by newer tools like predictive coding, can carry the review a a long way, and much more quickly than before, but there comes a point when it is necessary for skilled people to put their eyes on documents.
A team of dedicated reviewers who do this all the time can, as Craig puts it, “really make the technology sing”
This is not taking work away from lawyers but giving them a different, and much more interesting, job to do. They can focus on case strategy and go back to actually practising law, and if the attractively-designed user interface can help them enjoy it at the same time then that is a plus. FTI has devoted a lot of thought to the user interface, helping to reduce reviewer fatigue which itself pushes up accuracy.
Asked to summarise the strategic benefits of this approach, Craig Earnshaw says that this combination of people and technology guides the lawyers where to focus and where to “defocus” resources so that the effort is applied to the most appropriate places.