It’s been a little more than a year since LexisNexis parted ways with Applied Discovery, a high-end document review platform they acquired in 2003. Concordance Evolution capably fills the void.
Concordance has evolved from its early form. Steven Ashbacher, vice president and general manager, Concordance for LexisNexis, says Concordance Evolution is intended for complex litigation matters burdened with enormous volumes of electronically stored information. The Concordance that litigators have been using for more than 25 years (and acquired by LexisNexis in 2006) has been relabeled "Concordance Traditional."
After testing Evolution, I am convinced the transition is necessary, but fearful that the days of Concordance Traditional may be numbered. Ashbacher assured me there are no plans to sunset that edition, acknowledging the investment customers have put into the system, including years of training, as well as creating workflows and customization. Ashbacher anticipates that current customers will continue to use Traditional for smaller matters but turn to Evolution when they need a high-performance, scalable program to handle the inevitable ESI snowball.
Survival of the Fittest
While there are some similarities between Concordance Traditional and Evolution, Evolution can stand on its own. The back end is built on Microsoft SQL and delivered through the Microsoft Internet Explorer web browser (version 8 or 9) based on a Microsoft .NET framework. Concordance Evolution also replaces the Imagebase-Opticon-Concordance Image medley with the very powerful Brava Viewer from Informative Graphics Corp. All of this delivers a powerful system that Concordance Traditional could never compete against.
Yet Concordance Evolution could still benefit from a few refinements to make it a natural selection among litigators. Customers are currently required to use IE 8 or 9, which limits browser options and eliminates the use of mobile devices. The concept search and near-native tools feel a bit clunky when compared to other similarly positioned tools on the market, such as kCura Relativity and Integreon eView. Ashbacher promises an aggressive rollout schedule this year and next for both new and upgraded features.
In other document review platforms, a list of concepts is generated so that reviewers can gain an additional angle into the data, whereas in Concordance Evolution the Concept Search is baked into the Quick Search bar. And while the document viewer in Concordance Evolution is very powerful (see below), I felt that it was a tad bit sluggish when I zoomed in or switched views.
The interface of Concordance Evolution is simple and straightforward. Depending on your access rights, you can navigate the entire system via the omnipresent tabs at the top for Administration, Review and Reports. There’s also a breadcrumb trail that divulges your whereabouts in the system. Clicking the trail worked much better than hitting my browser’s Back button.
Concordance Traditional users will recognize the Table View in Evolution to view a list of documents. The default, however, is much more useful and called the Snippet View. It looks like a page of Google Search Results — you see the name of a document followed by a few lines of content.
Clicking a document brings up the near-native rendering where the Brava viewer offers options for viewing page thumbnails, adding stamps and redactions, etc. Clicking the Document Data tab shows the fielded data for the document, which Concordance Traditional users will recognize as the Browse view.
I preferred the Split View option, which puts the document list on the left and the near-native document on the right. The Options drop-down menu in the near-native view allows one to select Show Families & Threads which appear below the document.
If the documents have been processed through Equivio and LexisNexis’ LAW PreDiscovery, a small icon will indicate if a document has duplicates. If Equivio identifies a pivot document, there will also be a small icon with the letter "P." Clicking the Near Duplicates tab reveals a convenient listing of the pivot document and its near-duplicates, allowing you to easily view the differences.
Tags and Logs
Tags appear in the left panel when viewing a document in the Near-Native tab. Even though tags can be created for different privilege claims, I liked the additional log box below the native tab that allowed reviewers to capture additional notes about the privilege reason — information that can be extremely helpful when it comes time to generate a privilege log. There’s also a generic, searchable comment box that allows reviewers to add helpful notes about the document.
Bulk-tagging is available in Concordance Evolution by selecting multiple items in the snippet or table views (also available in the near-duplicate list). Select documents by clicking the check-boxes and then right-click on the appropriate tag on the left panel. You can tag just the selected documents or include families and threads as well.
Another extremely helpful tool in the left panel is the grouping option which is similar to a tally command. For example, selecting the "From" field generates a list of those email addresses so you can filter your document list further. I also used this as a QC tool to make sure I had returned my intended results.
A quick search bar is always available at the top of a web page and allows reviewers to toggle the concept search feature on or off, as well as perform a secondary search within results. Hits are conveniently highlighted in the Snippet View.
A tiny drop-down next to the search button allows reviewers to "Save Current Search" or "Save Current Search Results." While a saved search is helpful for running the same search again later, the "save search results" takes a snapshot of your results and allows you to compare those results with the same search at a later time. You do this by generating a comparison report (.csv file) from the "Saved Search Results" page. The Advanced Search screen provides a simple interface for building a complex search query.
If you’re in litigation support, prepare to drool over the almost limitless administrator options baked into Concordance Evolution. Reviewers are assigned to user groups, which take on predefined security settings. Reviewers can then be assigned a "Review Set," which is part of a "Data Set," which is part of a "Matter," which is part of a "Folder," which can be found under an "Organization." I got lost a couple of times navigating that step ladder but each of these levels gives the administrator several opportunities for customizing the access and performance of the system.
Even better news for administrators, no one has to worry about crazy concatenation issues, field data overflow errors, rogue control panels, or wacky methods to append or overlay field information.
A well-designed workflow walks administrators through the process of importing documents into Concordance Evolution. Right now, the best way to import documents is via a load file generated from LAW PreDiscovery. Many current Concordance Traditional users will already be familiar with LAW PreDiscovery or will have an outside service provider that can process the data.
Concordance Evolution is a welcome addition to the Concordance family. Customers can install Concordance Evolution in their own environment or have it hosted by LexisNexis.
LexisNexis has flexible pricing options for Concordance Evolution, which includes a software component and a seats licensing component, but the company does not provide specific price details. •