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11 June 2012

eDiscovery and demise of News of the World

A new use case for text analysis is emerging in the legal field. It is referred to as eDiscovery. Such methods are not widely accepted, let alone implemented as yet, but they are receiving increasing amounts of attention.

What is eDiscovery?

eDiscovery is a platform, combining algorithm, software and productivity tools. It is most obviously useful for expediting in-house legal document retrieval. I learned of the existence of eDiscovery quite recently. Inside Counsel gives this definition as part of an 8 June 2012 post on the limitations of eDiscovery:
eDiscovery offers search methodologies to rein in time spent on electronic document review. One strategy is “computer assisted review,” also known as "predictive coding" or “predictive analytics.” Predictive analytics is the nonspecific term for a computer program that uses algorithms to sample and predict relevancy across large collections of electronically stored information.
Both terms, "predictive analytics" and "predictive coding", were confusing to me. The terms are similar to ones used in quantitative analysis. They may almost be considered as applications of the same methodologies, but in a legal context. There is a greater emphasis on text though. There are other details which I haven't read enough about, thus cannot hazard a better guess as yet.

Further refinement needed

According to a 2010 Duke University survey of major companies (via the same Inside Counsel article), emphasis all mine:
magazine coverThe expense of electronic discovery is the most rapidly increasing item in the average litigation budget... This growth in e-discovery expenses is even more alarming [because] there is no evidence that it has resulted in a corresponding increase in the volume of relevant or important material being produced in litigation.

An Analysis of Hackgate

eDiscovery can be exciting, especially when it is about the recent demise of 'News of the World' ('News of the World' is the much publicized and scandal-ridden Rupert Murdoch flagship publication). Here's the premise:

What if the analysis were to have been approached with an eDiscovery-enabled perspective?