Contract Attorney Central recently found themselves fortunate enough to meet with Tim Phillips, Sales Director of the Legal Technologies division at Kroll Ontrack – the global big hitter in all things e-disclosure, data recovery and information management.
We picked his brains about the future of e-disclosure and how he feels the contract attorney and document review market will respond to the developments and threats it currently faces. Below is an excerpt of our meeting with Tim.First and foremost: predictive coding!
Contract Attorney Central: “How has the advent of predictive coding changed Kroll Ontrack’s approach to e-disclosure following Judge Peck’s decision in Da Silva Moore and how are you preparing for the knock-on effect?”
Tim Phillips: “Predictive coding is of course something we are alive to and conscious of. I think it is something that will not wipe out the requirement for contract attorneys actually eye-balling documents. You still need that human checking element and so predictive coding will not totally replace the requirement of human document reviewers. In any case, I envisage that it will only be used in specific, very clear-cut cases; for example, if you have a construction arbitration where the type of steel girder used is in question, then predictive coding could be used very effectively to first tier review many documents on the basis of very clear search terms and filters. However, if you’re looking at an internal investigation that hinges on whether employees of a global bank did or did not engage in anti-competitive behaviour, this is much less clear-cut and the hook on which to hang your predictive coding coat may not be present at all, or at least, not to anywhere near the same degree as the construction arbitration example.”
Like we wrote in our previous post “The Contract Attorney – An Extinct Animal? Contract Attorney Central Survival Tips!“, Tim also clearly feels that the onset of predictive coding won’t lead to the exclusion of the requirement of humans either immediately or in its totality at all. Some relief, then?
Our second topic of discussion was about the threat of outsourcing:
Contract Attorney Central: “We’ve seen the influx of so many US firms coming to London over the past few years and everyone, nowadays perhaps more so than ever, is acutely conscious of cost. How, then do you think the future of contract attorneys in London or US cities will be affected? Do you see a growing trend in the farming out of document review projects to ‘cheaper’ European countries?”
Tim Phillips: “This is the bigger threat [than predictive coding] to contract attorneys looking for document review projects over the coming years. Projects are more often being sent to India, Ireland, etc, and so I think you will start to find fewer firms or recruitment consultancies who are offering London-based document review projects.”
We share Tim’s thoughts on this, however we feel that the impact of this isn’t going to be quite as great as he alludes to, given that most of the follow up work such as second level review, translations, document descriptions in notes fields, privileged reviews, quality-control and production related tasks are still done by the firms and their domestic teams.
So, fellow contract attorneys and Contract Attorney Central followers: What are your thoughts on the matter? How are you mitigating against the possible decrease in doc review work? Do you think there is nothing to worry about at all?