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LegalTech NYC 2013 - Interview with Sharika de Freitas (Viacom)

Created on February 7, 2013

The E-Discovery Beat caught up with Sharika de Freitas, Project Specialist at Viacom. Sharika works within Viacom's in-house legal department helping manage its e-discovery program. Here is an excerpt of the interview:

E-Discovery Beat: Working within a major corporate legal department, what challenges do you face most on a daily basis from the e-discovery side? And how do you overcome them?

Sharika: I think the biggest issue is that we have to get a better understanding for our IT infrastructure. Viacom has multiple divisions and so not everyone is always standardized on the way they operate and the kind of machines they have, so the challenges for us is trying to map our tools to make sure that we can connect perfectly to everybody's sources and then get them over into our indexes for review. Right now its really about communication, knowing all the contacts within the entire corporate hierarchy and who is in charge of managing all those things (e.g. HR knowing how machines are disposed of). So I think in the end, open communication is the biggest solution for understanding our IT infrastructure and getting information ready for review.

E-Discovery Beat: We are hearing so much about Big Data at this year's conference, what does 'big data' mean to you and what impacts are you seeing it having on e-discovery practices."

Sharika: When I hear big data, that means you're in petabytes already. I think the biggest factor about big data is the growth. A lot talk has been about the potential growth rate, which I think is 80% over the next couple years and just increasing. So for e-discovery the challenge is trying to figure out effective ways to cull down these large data sets.

I think the better answer to that is really for governance to happen before discovery ever occurs. This means you only keep the information that is necessary because a lot of big data is not fully valid anymore for business purposes.

E-Discovery Beat: Another key theme at this year’s conference obviously is predictive technologies. Do you expect widespread adoption or predictive tools over the next year or do you think it will take a bit longer before practitioners are truly comfortable using what many are calling a game-changing technology.

Sharika: I could see the adoption of predictive technologies being 5 years down the road. A lot of attention has been focused on it, with a lot of talk and arguing going on. But I think that's good because its on people's minds, meaning that acceptance of it may be coming faster.

But, I think the nice thing about predictive coding is that you can utilize it in so many different ways. Like if you're flavor is that you want it for automated review, great but you can also use it to QC (quality control) your documents as well. So you can still have human beings driving the bus while at the end of the day use predictive coding to see how well things measured up. A lot of utility can come from predictive coding, with different flavors depending on what fits your workflow and your culture.