In the past, discovery in multidistrict litigation (MDL) and class action lawsuits involved plaintiff legal teams having to manually review hard copies of voluminous documents—page by page. Thanks to advances in computer technology, discovery had finally moved into the digital realm. Documents are now scanned, coded, searched and reviewed online. As important, attorneys around the world can collaborate on these cases with teammates and co-counsel. Even with these improvements, however, the job still required plaintiffs’ counsel to plough through at least 90 percent of the potentially relevant data to evaluate the one in ten documents that was perhaps, “interesting.”
With automated issue coding, artificial intelligence (AI) technology locates key issues in defendant-produced documents quickly and efficiently. First, the IT specialists train sophisticated AI-based document analytics to recognize the key issues. Then, the system “reads” and analyzes documents produced by the defense team to identify which ones counsel will want to read, i.e., those involving topics that are relevant to the plaintiffs’ objectives. As mentioned earlier, frequently, less than 10 percent of the documents handed over by the defense team will be important. Issue coding allows counsel to focus immediately on that 10 percent, rather than rooting through the other 90 percent in search of hot documents.
The document review process can be completed in a matter of weeks with automated issue coding, saving clients both time and money. Moreover, electronic document discovery tends to be more accurate than human review, so issue coding minimizes the risk of missed information. For international cases involving multiple languages, there is multilingual coding technology available.
It is important for counsel to work with eDiscovery experts closely from the start. Defense productions must conform to specific electronic format requirements in order for issue coding to even be an option. A plaintiff electronic discovery firm can assist counsel in the early stages of discovery to make sure all data produced by the defense team will be in the correct electronic format. And should the defense resist the specific format request, it will be critical to have qualified eCounsel support—someone who knows appropriate ESI protocols, understands eDiscovery rules, case law and local application cold! Armed appropriately, the plaintiff steering committee will obtain the results it needs and wants.