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12/12/18

eAnalytics – making sense out of chaos

eAnalytics – making sense out of chaos

Insight into the cutting edge eDiscovery practices and tools being used to support clients across the Asia Pacific region.

The data challenge

Analysing ever increasing volumes of client data, within continuously tightening deadlines, is one of the biggest challenges facing our teams in the running of commissions. Key to the success of a commission is the ability to quickly see the big picture. We need to get to the main issues and understand the associated risks and solutions, which generally relate to quantum of time and cost.

The main data challenges facing teams in Asia Pacific (APAC) and globally include:

  • Increasingly large data volumes, both:
    • Structured - as in spreadsheets, databases, and schedules.
    • Unstructured - as in emails, contract documents, general correspondence, and reports.
  • The need to quickly ascertain the completeness of a data set.
  • Tightening deadlines for analysis and response.
  • Comprehensive factual accuracy.
  • Cost effectiveness for our clients.

These challenges have created the need to find an electronic method for which we can inventory all client files, search various forms of information, and extract very specific data that will assist in the commission. Without technologically advanced assistance, a task of this magnitude will not only take weeks to months of manual review, but is also susceptible to human error. The absence of such a tool can result in missed deadlines, factual inaccuracy, and keeping resources engaged on a single commission for an extended period; all of which are costly to our clients.

Figure 1 System analysis of dataset

Figure 1 System analysis of dataset

Finding a solution

Technology has moved on apace in the array of computerised methods of analysing and reviewing data. eAnalytics is electronic data analytics and, in broad terms, relates to how insightful decisions can be made from the analysis and understanding of data.

Until recently, the use of these electronic tools had been the domain of large legal and forensic practices; primarily due to the associated high cost of procurement and implementation. Data analytics for Driver Trett means that we can make decisions and draw conclusions quickly and more accurately, using the complete body of data being studied.

The exciting way in which we now meet this challenge and strive to increase our market-place competitiveness is with eDiscovery and its benefits. Our recent implementation of eDiscovery services has already had a positive impact on several commissions; assisting our internal processes and delivering speed and accuracy to our clients. Our immediate goal is to utilise this software for all commissions in the APAC region.

What it does

The mainstay of our data analytic tool is an eDiscovery package which employs powerful computer algorithms, enabling analyses of vast quantities of electronically stored data. This process is very fast and provides information down to the granular level, across the entire body of data. The package processes most file types in common use and is optimised for analysing unstructured and semi-structured data. It provides a set of powerful data research tools so that reviewers can:

  • Trace email strings on topic or person.
  • De-duplicate.
  • Locate near duplicate documents.
  • Search, filter, and sort.
  • Tag and highlight.
  • Cluster by subject or theme.
  • Redact.
  • Export.
  • Report far more effectively than doing such things manually.

Twenty years ago, the traditional document review process followed linear review methods in which a reviewer would carry out word searches to find documents of interest. Additional reviewers were needed to speed up the process; but that also introduced increased costs, a potential risk for inaccuracy, and a lack of consistency among the reviewers.

eDiscovery is a game changer; providing an efficient method of reviewing documents. The electronic discovery reference model (EDRM), as shown in Figure 2, outlines the process and the various workflow sequences which rely heavily on our electronic data recovery (EDR) software for all data pre-processing on the front end.

Figure 2 EDRM model of analysis process

Figure 2 EDRM model of analysis process

Security of the system

Security of the system is flexible, it can provide secure and compartmentalised access to case data for multiple reviewers and investigators. The server installation security is controlled by an active directory which only permits access to those managing the data. Reviewers are provided login credentials, specific to their case, and login securely to the review process by means of a web browser interface called Web Review. This provides high-level security, as well as providing useful working flexibility. All case data viewed within Web Review is protected, whereby users cannot alter or delete any information within a case, maintaining data integrity. Backups of all server data are secured remotely on a daily basis.

The benefits

Having used data analytics on several commissions in the first quarter of 2018, the APAC team highly recommend its use on all commissions where substantial analysis of data is required. Given the dramatic increase in volumes of data and information, it makes this tool vital to carry out the targeted analysis required. The main advantages are:

  • Speed of data analysis.
  • Greater accuracy in analysis.
  • Cost savings to our clients.
  • Time saving to our staff.
  • Competitive edge over our rivals.
  • Confidentiality and security of data.

To illustrate the benefits achieved through eDiscovery, consider a recent commission completed in the Western Australia office. Initially, the client provided over 40GB of data represented in well over 10,000 pieces of evidence in various forms. The case was created, and all items were put through an ingestion and optical character recognition (OCR) process, allowing non-searchable items to become text searchable. The amount of case evidence expanded to over 67,000 items available for analysis and review. Additional case evidence presented by the client was quickly added to the existing case. The investigator utilised our Web Review and easily performed free form searches, filters, sorts, and tags; rapidly identifying key documents and time periods that were critical in his delay analysis.

Our review process took a several-month job and condensed investigative activities into 40 hours of work; with a level of speed and accuracy that would be difficult to achieve through a manual review of material.

Figure 3 Typical case review process we used

Figure 3 Typical case review process we used

Current software capacity

With our current capacity, we can run as many jobs as we wish (restricted only by server storage), with any one job handling up to 200GB of data. Looking at statistics from two of the largest commissions that we have undertaken, indicated that a 200GB capacity is currently sufficient:

  • The largest amounted to 65GB client data (around 150,000 document files).
  • Another, well above average, job comprised of 51GB client data (around 28,000 document files).

We can increase our capacity, should this not be sufficient, almost immediately.

Our eDiscovery system is installed and managed out of our Singapore office and provides an Investigator Workstation license, along with five licenses for Web Based Review, which can be used concurrently at any one time. If required, this capacity can also be increased quickly.

Current activities and future endeavours

We are immersed in eDiscovery matters and have been for several months now. Our web review process is straightforward, and most of our professionals are comfortable using the software after a one-hour training session, with further advanced training to follow as needed.

Three training sessions have been conducted in-house thus far; which includes participation from staff in Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore. Additional training will be scheduled in the coming weeks.

We will continue to develop our expertise and use this valuable tool on our commissions whenever possible; delivering results, where scale and complexity exist, with more clarity. Our future goal is to provide a separate service to small tier law firms and clients that don’t have this capability.

In our industry, the use of eDiscovery is significant in terms of reduction in cost and time, increased quality of outputs, and ultimately an increased return on our investment. It is this differentiator that gives Driver Trett a competitive edge and will continue to drive excellence in delivery. 

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