Legal teams are now finding it dramatically easier to use electronic discovery rather than traditional methods. In times past, paralegals and associates pored over cases of documents manually, determining whether each set was pertinent to their case. Today, the entire process can be automated and controlled for consistency, reducing the chances of human error, and allowing smaller firms to appropriately leverage their human capital.

How Does the Process of Machine Learning and e-Discovery Work?

An individual may be able to scan a page in a minute and 60 pages an hour. A machine learning AI can scan thousands of pages almost instantaneously. It’s simply a matter of speed and resources.

e-Discovery systems begin through human coding. An individual goes through a set of documents, known as a sample set, and highlights which are relevant to the case and which are not.

From there, the machine learning algorithm codes the rest of the documents on its own. An individual will go through some of the results marking them as relevant and irrelevant again. The machine learning algorithm becomes smarter with each data point, thereby becoming highly accurate.

If any issues are found in what is marked relevant, the sample sets can be adjusted, and the entire process can be run again within a matter of minutes.

What Are the Advantages of e-Discovery?

Small firms often find themselves inundated with documents from larger firms and unable to keep up. e-Discovery dramatically reduces the amount of time firms need to spend sifting through documents and information. Some firms spend only a little time in discovery; other firms spend almost all their time in discovery, depending on the type of cases they specialize in.

By reducing the time for discovery, firms are also able to take on more cases, and are able to secure better case outcomes. While a tired individual may miss a relevant document, a machine is not going to as long as the sample sets are properly trained. (And, of course, most legal firms hire experts to make sure they’re training the e-Discovery platform correctly.)

Since e-Discovery reduces the amount of time employees need to work, it also reduces the burden on the firm’s employees, and ensures that they can concentrate on more important things. This, in turn, leads to more satisfied employees, and being able to retain better talent.

Challenges with e-Discovery

As with any new technological solution, some firms do encounter challenges with e-Discovery. Foremost, the e-Discovery platform has to be properly trained. It is programmed to identify how relevant a document is in relation to the sample sets it has been provided. If the sample sets are incorrect, the results will be incorrect. The machine doesn’t make “mistakes,” but it can be programmed incorrectly.

Second, there can be operational barriers to adoption—the firm’s own lawyers may be reluctant to adopt the technology, or may feel frustrated by it. These are issues that can be countered in training and with an accomplished technical partner.

e-Discovery is something that most legal firms are going to need to start using eventually, as it’s quickly becoming an industry standard. While it isn’t perfect, it’s vastly superior to traditional discovery in a multitude of ways, and firms are going to need to adopt this technology if they want to remain competitive and give the best to their clients.