The Masters Conference buzzed through the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., on October 13 and 14, supporting a rich cast of e-discovery specialists, pundits and exhibitors. Typically, the Masters has a laser focus on e-discovery, but this year the conference expanded its coverage to address risk management and security issues that often accompany litigation matters involving electronically stored information as well as EDD.

Like LegalTech New York 2009, vendors at the Masters Conference seemed to emphasize a general lean towards the “left side” of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model. Exhibitors chatted up their preprocessing tools and new features to help customers better manage the endless streams of digital data.

Several vendors highlighted their system improvements around processing speed. Apparently, customers have been clamoring for more features devoted to relieving bottlenecks in processing so they can reduce the costs for e-discovery and cut the time necessary to complete EDD projects.

Vendors were also anxious to describe how their systems are getting better at identifying file exceptions. In any batch of electronic data set up for processing, there inevitably will be a small percentage of files that are password-protected, compressed or just plain odd or rare. It’s becoming more important for systems to accurately report on file exceptions so that appropriate actions can be taken.

In a similar vein, the EDD processing stage requires a system know what file types to exclude from the eventual batch of relevant data (e.g., operating system files, application support files, etc.). Many tools can automatically filter out irrelevant files by using the “NIST-list” from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The NIST-list helps to identify files generated by a computer system from those generated by a user. Some vendors were describing the additional tools their systems provide to exclude irrelevant files over and above those identified by the NIST-list.

CLEARWELL SYSTEMS

Clearwell Systems recently released version 5.0 of their flagship E-Discovery Platform. Version 5.0 places additional focus on the preprocessing stages of e-discovery which expands Clearwell’s capabilities beyond the typical review scenario, i.e., moving towards the “left side” of EDRM.

Clearwell enjoys a significant share of the e-discovery market mainly due to their intuitive and friendly interface. Clearwell is used by many law firms that receive data collected by their clients. But Clearwell is also extensively used by many organizations for preprocessing to quickly and efficiently analyze data sets with the goal of culling them to smaller, more relevant and less-expensive collections before handing everything over to their outside law firms.

Patrick Murphy from Clearwell described to me (MOV/WMV) some of the new features in 5.0 that focus on preprocessing, filtering and analytics. For example, when you previously added a folder of data to the Clearwell system for indexing, it would simply provide a file list. That list is now augmented with file metadata including the file types and sizes so that whoever is loading the data can see a detailed and comprehensive report. This is extremely helpful for litigation support personnel who are frequently questioned about the makeup of the data ingested into a review platform. Murphy also emphasized the faster processing speeds built into version 5.

ORANGE LEGAL TECHNOLOGIES

Orange Legal Technologies recently released version 4 of OneO Discovery Platform that improves on its predecessor’s capabilities for data analysis and review.

Rob Robinson from Orange described (MOV/WMV) some of the specifics offered by OneO including a fully integrated index that includes files that the system may not fully recognize. Unrecognized file types can still be indexed, although there are still routines to handle exception calls if necessary.

Robinson commented that with OneO, clients regularly see their data collection reduced by 80 percent because the built-in analytics features provide a powerful toolbox for clustering, grouping and classifying data.

Orange continues to improve their filtering and deduplication tools to further enable litigation teams to cull data sets for review. This helps tremendously on first-pass reviews.

Robinson maintains the authoritative “Unfiltered Orange” resource, which is a good way to keep up with the news around e-discovery. Orange Legal Technologies also provides a very helpful “ Predictive Pricing Estimator” that provides a basic template for pricing structures in e-discovery.

NUIX

Nuix is a relative newcomer on the U.S. scene, although the company has been active in Australia for approximately nine years. I spoke with Stephen Stewart from Nuix who talked about (MOV/WMV) the speed and effectiveness of the Nuix processing platform. Nuix has historically focused on processing forensic images that have been collected through tools such as EnCase. Nuix doesn’t do the actual imaging, but it provides a speedy method for processing data collected by another system.

Stewart mentioned that many clients have been clamoring for faster, better, cheaper methods of processing data because of cost considerations. Significant improvements were made in version 2.18 of their platform that was announced at LegalTech back in February 2009.

Nuix only sells software, but they can offer suggestions on the optimal hardware to use with their system. Stewart also discussed Nuix as “point-and-shoot” in that it is meant to be pointed to data to process what has been collected from other sources (including e-mail servers and forensic images).

While EnCase is an excellent tool for creating a forensic image, it doesn’t do the best job at providing an interface to search the data after it’s collected. That’s where Nuix can shine, said Stewart, providing a fast, reliable and comprehensive index of the data that you collected.

WAVE SOFTWARE

Trident, from Wave Software, is not a review tool, but a powerful preprocessing engine that provides tremendous insight into e-mail and document collections.

Trident is noted for its effective parsing of e-mail files including PST and NSF collections. Rick Clarke described (MOV/WMV) some of the improvements and features they’ve included in version 6.2, including better encryption detection and filtering methods. Trident now provides more powerful searching capabilities that support wild cards and recognize misspellings in search parameters.

Clarke also discussed Trident’s “Native Review Bridge” that exports the output from Trident to review platforms such as CT Summation, Concordance, Ringtail, etc. Trident itself is not a review tool, but scratches that annoying itch where e-mail collections must be recognized, assimilated and understood for review. Trident provides litigation support managers the ability to parse and deduplicate an e-mail collection before blindly loading it into a review tool.

iFRAMEWORK

All of the processing power in the world doesn’t mean much if you can’t properly manage the project. iFramework differentiated itself from the crowd of vendors at the Masters by providing an online service focusing on the project management side of litigation support. (iFramework was acquired by Intelligent Discovery Solutions earlier this year.)

John Rowley, director of iFramework, explained (MOV/WMV) how his work on the online “request for proposal” site (i-RFP) gradually led him to develop a service that encompassed the entire litigation life cycle. When John explored how litigation support managers were currently managing their projects, he found that most of them kept expansive Excel spreadsheets or tried to manage everything in their head. John found that most people who claimed that they were too busy to talk really just didn’t know what their next task was. iFramework maps out each task and provides an online portal for tracking the activity throughout the entire matter.

iFramework is built on a Microsoft SQL Server back end and integrates with ASP.net. A GANTT chart is built into the system and a basic template provides a simple-to-understand work breakdown structure (WBS). iFramework also provides a wiki platform to capture the collective wisdom and knowledge gained from a project.

The trend towards incorporating formal, technical project management techniques into litigation matters will continue to progress forward, and tools like iFramework will lead the charge. Rowley mentioned that future plans for iFramework will incorporate the EDRM platform as well as integrate the system with other third-party processing systems so that a litigation support manager can have a dashboard view of all the projects they are managing.

LegalQB

One last interesting vendor that was roaming the halls at the Master Conference was LegalQB. Many folks got familiar with LegalQB while they filmed attendees and vendors at the ILTA Conference last August. LegalQB creates an online marketplace that rides alongside a traditional conference, allowing vendors and attendees to enhance their regular meetings with online video content.

LegalQB should be posting videos from the Masters Conference soon on their site.

Brett Burney is principal of Burney Consultants LLC, where he works with law firms and corporations on managing electronic data for litigation matters. He is a member of the Legal Tech Newsletter‘s board of editors and a frequent contributor to Law.com and Law Technology News. Visit his blog at http://www.ediscoveryinfo.com/.