The E-Discovery Beat caught up with Ralph Losey, partner at Jackson Lewis and chair of the firm’s Electronic Discovery Practice Group. Here is an excerpt of the interview:
E-Discovery Beat: You just finished presenting a session on predictive coding. This was kind of a unique LegalTech session in that was intended to be a little more interactive and actually feature a live simulation. Talk about the objectives and how everything went?
Losey: I got a chance to design my own presentation and wanted to do something that brought the people who are here into the process and to demonstrate the inconsistency of reviewers, which is a known scientific fact, and kind of bring it home by having the audience themselves see for themselves by coding five documents – relevant or irrelevant – and we got disagreements. The reality is that the important documents are usually grey area and there the disagreement rate goes much higher. The point of the exercise was to extrapolate what we know from science and demonstrate it here at LegalTech and thus show the inconsistency of humans in making these kinds of relevancy decisions. We also talked about the implications of that, especially what the long term implications will be for the future of search.
E-Discovery Beat: 2012 was clearly a big year for predictive technologies. For the first time, we had judges actually signing off on the use of predictive tools. Do you anticipate that we’ll see more widespread adoption in 2013 and what are the remaining barriers to that?
Losey: Price is still a barrier. I really urge vendors to bring the prices down. Otherwise, I don’t think there are any bonafide barriers accept for the main one and that is natural resistance to change and lawyers tend to be more conservative than most so there is a natural reluctance to change but I think the forces of competition will have an impact. Some firms are already there and if you want to keep up with the neighbors next door, your competitors, you’d better do it or you’re going to be left in the dust. The truth of the matter is that this is a disruptive technology. It disrupts the current establishment of vendors, the current establishment of law firms because it’s so much better. The more you learn about it the more you realize that this is really big. This is changing everything and thank goodness because we were losing the race of keeping up with the data explosion. Big Data requires artificial intelligence. It’s the only way to do it. And the good news is we are now learning how to do it. There are multiple choices now from software companies that are doing it right, some that may not being doing it as right, but that’s always the way it is particularly with new technology that comes out. I don’t think there is any one clear leader but I think there is going to be a shakedown. Those who are on top yesterday may not be on top tomorrow and that’s the way it should be. That’s what competition is all about.
E-Discovery Beat: You devote a lot your time and work to predictive technologies. Are there other topics in e-discovery that you’ve been paying attention to on the side that you’re excited to hear more about at the conference?
Losey: I’m always excited to hear what the judges think since they make the ultimate decisions. Computer assisted review is critical but it’s not all of e-discovery. I do think that the application of computer assisted review or predictive coding at the front end in the organization of documents is going to be something that we’ll see more and more in the future. This is just the very beginning in a long term wave for the law. Although this kind of machine training has been used for other things, such as medical research, for a long time, there are different nuances in the law. There are all types of special obstacles in the law so it’s a challenge to be creative and come up with new solutions.