This Section looks at the software in this area across three broad areas. A more detailed market analysis in shown in the Market Survey section whilst the Procurement sec has draft requirements within this area.
Early Case / Data Assessment #
Once material has been collected, it is normally passed through some form of initial assessment/culling. The tools in this area allow users to “slice and dice” the information in many ways, from removing unwanted file types, grouping by date and custodian of the information, through to more sophisticated clustering of the data using semantic analysis. This last option is where the software groups “similar” items together. The computer determines what is “similar” by conducting a linguistic analysis on the content of the ESI items as well as comparing date, time and other objective data. The power of this approach is twofold. First, it groups superfluous material so that can easily be bulk coded as irrelevant. Second, the computer had no preconceptions about issues or keywords and can sometimes produce unexpected results in its grouping that a human reviewer would not have spotted.
Litigation Support Systems #
The systems in this area are focused on the review of “documents” in preparation for initial disclosure to the other side, and (if the case progresses that far) a trial bundle. They have facilities for tagging documents for user defined issues, as well as powerful search tools and auditable production processes. The more recent tools have built in workflow that enables large scale reviews to be controlled in a much easier manner and “logic” checks that improve the Quality Control side of things. There are a range of tools on offer within this sector of the market, from reasonably “cheap and cheerful” up to top end products. That being said, most (if not all) now share common functionality and will enable users to deliver their end product, the key here is to match user requirement with the offered functionality and only buy enough to get the job done rather than over-specify the need.
Multi-Purpose Tools #
There has been an increasing trend over the past few years for both the ECA and litigation support products to “drift” into each other’s areas in terms of their functionality. Which is to be expected in a maturing marketplace. However there are also starting to appear offerings that span the whole of the two areas combined. These come in two flavours. First a single product that from the start has been designed to cover the entire spectrum, and second products that started as discrete offerings (sometimes from different companies) but by a process of acquisition and re-development now share a code base and have seamless integration between each part.
The issues here are about how well such an overarching aim can be met by a single set of software developers. The requirements of an ECA tool are quite different from that of a litigation support system and the interfaces and functionality for each area are very specific to those specific requirements. The danger here is the “Jack of all trades and Master of none” syndrome. However, as products encroach on each other’s areas and as these multi-purpose tools evolve, it is probable that the successful tools of the future will span all the areas, the trick is to make sure you don’t buy too soon.