Robert D. Brownstone, Law and Technology Director at Fenwick & West, was quoted in a Law Firm Inc. article titled "Harnessing the Power of EDD". The article addresses the growing need for Electronic Data Discovery (EDD) prowess in law firms and its ability to provide firms with a significant competitive edge.
The question isn't whether technology can help but rather how much it should. Attorneys are still required to defend their results. Many are excited about automated e-discovery search methods but also have concerns about taking the human element completely out of the process.
"In practice it's not so simple, because you are starting out with so many formats – e-mail, documents, different file formats," said Brownstone. "We've looked at a lot of these tools. I don't know of any that can work its magic on all possible file formats."
When Brownstone briefed attorneys on conceptual searching, they didn't bite. "They were very comfortable with doing keyword searches and time restrictions to cull data sets. They were used to that from Lexis and Westlaw." Fenwick relies on more objective techniques like de-duplication, spam removal, and keyword searching to narrow down document sets.
It is most likely the next wave of e-discovery tools will focus on quality assurance, developing tests and checks to help convince users that the given EDD systems really work as promised. (Copy available from the author on request).