Artificial intelligence will gain momentum
In 2017, Technology Assisted Review (TAR) won over the Australian legal market and became the standard practice for many law firms and corporates. Most notably, TAR was supported by Justice Peter Vickery in McConnell Dowell Constructors (Aust) Pty Ltd v Santam Ltd & Ors. It was throughout this case that Justice Vickery endorsed the use of predictive coding due to the significant volume of documents requiring review in the discovery phase.
Over the next 12 months, law firms and corporates will undoubtedly continue to incorporate this technology into their standard practice. At a minimum, TAR can be an effective alternative to using search terms; and in very best-case scenarios, this technology can be used to replace large document review teams. We have recently seen an upsurge in the number of clients requiring specialists with TAR expertise due to the increasing prevalence of requests for affidavit evidence in relation to the TAR process in the Australian legal market.
The number of relevant audiovisual files has increased considerably and as a result Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications such as Veritone will continue to gain momentum in the market.
Veritone is a cloud based AI product that uses cognitive computing to help analyse audio and video content. Offering the ability to monitor and query media based on keywords, individual faces and objects, this technology is poised to radically transform the future of e-discovery.
AI technology is already impacting many industries including healthcare, manufacturing and finance. Similarly, there is no doubt that AI will continue to impact the legal industry. There are already many firms investing in this technology and it is expected that this trend will continue to grow in 2018.
New evidence sources will appear
Recent years have witnessed an explosion of Electronically Stored Information (ESI). Investigations, litigations and arbitrations have been heavily impacted by the volume of information being generated today. Social media, mobile devices and cloud products now form important considerations in most e-discovery projects.
In 2018 it is inevitable that the Internet of Things will continue to have impact on the practice of e-discovery. It will be important for lawyers and technical experts to stay abreast of new technology. The Internet of Things will provide new opportunities and pathways for those who choose to invest in this area.
Legal process outsourcing and project management
Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) has gained acceptance in Australia. It is now common to outsource document review to low-cost review teams in India, South Africa and other locations around the globe.
The common driver for LPO services is client demand for reductions of fees and improved turnaround times. Utilising offshore LPO services enables legal teams to be more flexible, pursue larger matters and operate 24/7 during busy periods.
Offshore document review is cost-effective, however it requires a skilled project manager to ensure a favourable outcome. Comprehensive project management is the key to ensuring quality, accuracy and timeliness.
Legal project management (LPM) is not new to the Australian legal market, however it is likely to become an even bigger player in 2018. Legal project management is the application of project management techniques adapted for legal purposes. A talented project manager has the capacity to enhance the delivery of legal services by developing clear scope, managing risks, utilising technology and optimising costs.
Data analytics has made it possible for reviewers to gain better understanding over large document sets without the need for time-consuming and costly linear reviews. This technology has advanced greatly in the past few years to the point that even the most ‘technologically challenged’ can effectively manage a matter electronically.
There have been recent advancements to commonly used analytics tools such as email threading. As such we are likely to see existing analytics undergo a transformation and become review analytics 2.0.
The global economy has led to an increase in cross-border disputes. In recent times, Singapore and Hong Kong have emerged as leading destinations for arbitration across the globe. In 2015 and 2016, the number of arbitrations held in the Singapore International Arbitration Centre increased 41 per cent on average.
To support the rise of international arbitration, it is anticipated that the need for e-discovery services and electronic hearing rooms will continue to increase in 2018. The team at Law In Order have seen the number of arbitrations increase over the last 12 months significantly. The demand for these services is a contributing factor to opening Law In Order offices in HK and SG.
The outlook for 2018 is looking incredibly bright for lawyers and e-discovery professionals. The early adaptors of these alternative models and technologies will gain drastic advantages and be poised for an optimistic future. It is possible that not all of these predictions may indeed come to pass, however it is undeniable that data volumes will continue to grow and clients will continue to look for cost saving alternatives.
Justin Smith, head of consulting at Law In Order, leads a global team of project management, e-discovery & information governance professionals. He is a Certified Relativity Administrator and has been involved in complex commercial litigations.