data collection


Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from the Reinventing Professionals podcast, hosted by legal tech speaker and consultant Ari Kaplan, provided to Legaltech News. Kaplan speaks with Caroline Sweeney, the director of knowledge management and innovation at Dorsey & Whitney; Joy Holley, the regional practice support director for the Americas at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner; and Chris Haley, the director of legal technology for Troutman Sanders eMerge about the evolving application of analytics in legal matters.

Ari Kaplan: How do you define analytics?

Caroline Sweeney: Technology that allows us to strategically review documents and helps our legal team members build their story during and after evaluating a given set of records. We apply analytics to deposition testimony and key files to develop and drive business decisions within our department. Understanding metrics about our information across the firm’s 300 databases and using those details to refine our productions is critical.

Ari Kaplan: What is unique about how your team uses analytics?

Chris Haley: We try to use analytics on every matter in every project. We might use it for quality control in review, but even more importantly, we find that we’re using analytics for things that don’t have anything to do with litigation or discovery. Other practices throughout the firm that need to analyze data and want to leverage technology to make that analysis more efficient and effective without wasting senior attorney hours or even junior attorney hours finding the needle in the haystack are embracing analytics. In every project, we ensure that our teams discuss how can they leverage this technology.

Ari Kaplan: Why has the use of analytics become so important?

Joy Holley: It is because of the truly exponential proliferation of data that our clients need to grasp in order to analyze risk and exposure, as well as to develop a strategy associated with both. Our clients are sophisticated and rightfully expect us to deliver value at a very high level.

The term “analytics” is not just about software. It includes processes, human expertise, and the strategy that aligns it all. The depth to put those elements together and the development of an effective delivery system are the game changers, which allow firms like ours to differentiate ourselves in a very challenging market.

Ari Kaplan: What is the difference between analytics and artificial intelligence?

Caroline Sweeney: Artificial intelligence is technology that performs the analysis for you and actually does the work of a human being. Predictive coding and other machine learning tools identify documents that the system thinks are responsive. You are also starting to see the adoption of AI for due diligence reviews, automated contract clause extraction, and other tasks that an attorney once completed manually.

In contrast, analytics technology presents information for you to evaluate, such as social network details, where the platform identifies the participants in a particular conversation, or software that highlights foreign language content requiring machine translation. Another example is protecting personally identifiable information by applying automatic redaction.

Ari Kaplan: How can legal teams demystify automation, AI, and analytics in their discovery workflow?

Chris Haley: You can’t sell or suggest a solution that you’re not comfortable with, so we spend a lot of time ensuring that our team members not only understand what buttons to push when using certain technologies, but how that technology fundamentally works, including the purpose of the underlying algorithms.

One common misunderstanding is that this is a magic silver bullet, which it is not. There is still a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done in order to realize the benefits. It does not remove people from the process. While it changes what they’re doing and makes their work more efficient, they still have to train the technology so we have to properly set expectations when working with our partners and our clients. We have found that offering these solutions for free to clients is an effective way of getting them comfortable with their use.

Ari Kaplan: Did your team pilot an analytics tool prior to deployment?

Joy Holley: We are constantly assessing technology because the market continues to evolve. Our successes in this area give us a compelling reason to start a dialogue with clients, who are receptive and willing to proactively address issues and create technology-driven solutions.

Ari Kaplan: What success metrics are necessary to convince doubters?

Caroline Sweeney: The most valuable metrics are those that help you tell a story about how using the analytics or artificial intelligence tools drove cost savings for your clients. Also, featuring people that have had positive experiences to help you market these tools is compelling. We host a monthly boot camp to educate employees on different aspects of e-discovery, where we focus on case studies and the benefits that internal teams have realized on specific cases. When others hear from their peers, their doubt dissipates and they become more interested in these new tools. Both metrics and experience drive adoption.

Joy Holley: It’s all about identifying evangelists, both among clients and within your own firm, who are willing to become advocates that help you market the value of analytics.

Ari Kaplan: What are the challenges associated with analytics and how can firms overcome them?

Chris Haley: Analytics and the underlying technology are changing so rapidly that they require a significant amount of effort to stay abreast of the developments. In addition, setting aside the time to document and manage your processes, prepare guidelines and best practices, and track results are all challenging. If these efforts slip through the cracks, you will not have the benefit of applying your prior work to the next project. And, every project is different so what we did on the last three or four projects may not even work on the next one. As a result, being innovative and consistently thinking about alternative solutions or tools is important. The key is to balance it all.

Caroline Sweeney: Aligning the easy button expectation with the need to really dive in and become familiar with the technology is certainly a challenge.

Joy Holley: These tools raise the bar and challenge us to be that much better focused on expertise since there is no replacement for human judgment and input. You have to be willing to embrace that balance because if you don’t, you are going to be left behind. It is a differentiator within every organization at every level. Those who are willing to embrace, learn, and make the investment to adopt these processes and this technology into their practices will thrive.

Ari Kaplan: Where do you see the use of analytics headed in 2019?

Caroline Sweeney: You are going to continue to see broader adoption of analytics. We have been using continuous active learning as a standard part of our operating procedure for the last couple of years. Now, we are working with our transcript management software provider to integrate analytics into that platform to identify differences in testimony between deponents. Firms will also use analytics beyond review in other aspects of legal support.

Joy Holley: I feel like the future is now. The internet of things and the science fiction we used to see on tv are here. The pure acceleration of technology and innovation on every level is impacting the way employees are communicating with each other socially and professionally throughout the highest levels of executive management in very large, sophisticated corporations.

We can’t even imagine where this is going. Analytics and innovative service offerings will make or break organizations that have traditionally been very rigid and conservative. We have to be willing to embrace the change and the challenges we are going to encounter at every level. Those who do so will succeed. We won’t remember those who can’t or won’t. You have to organizationally be willing to change your whole model and way of thinking to succeed in this market.


Ari Kaplan regularly interviews leaders in the legal industry and in the broader professional services community to share perspective, highlight transformative change, and introduce new technology at