How Technology Helps & Hinders the Discovery Process
In a continued effort to offer innovative and thought-provoking insight and educational opportunities to our clients, Inventus hosted a collaborative MCLE presentation on Tuesday, January 20th, entitled: Taming the Technology Dragons: How to Harness Technology to Work Smarter. The event was attended by over thirty San Diego based attorneys and paralegals that represented a very diverse mix of in-house counsel from large corporations to public entities as well outside counsel from both Big Law and boutique firms.
The concept for the presentation began a few months ago when Kate Mayer Mangan, a former litigator turned consultant, and I had a lengthy debate related to technology and how it serves as both the main cause of and cure for many of the inefficiencies that plague attorneys today. In an effort to gain another unique perspective, we turned to Erik Bliss, Associate General Counsel for ViaSat, who in turn added a bit more fuel to the fire given his long-standing career as outside counsel and his relatively new stint in-house. The dialog continued until we decided that this subject matter was truly best served as a collaborative presentation topic followed by an interactive roundtable discussion. I wanted to share a few key points from our presentation and discussion that followed.
Technology can reduce the risks and costs associated with the review process.
I started the presentation by providing some staggering statistics related to the eDiscovery industry as a whole and how it directly compares to its outside counsel predecessor. What became clear is that the costs associated with eDiscovery services pale in comparison to those associated with attorney review and thus, technology has been developed to help automate many of the manual processes that have plagued the discovery process through this exponential growth in corporate data. This was followed by a peek under the hood at some of the more creative, forward-thinking applications of technology today and was strengthened by a variety of case studies that Inventus has performed demonstrating the cost savings and risk mitigation that their clients have achieved when these kinds of solutions are appropriately applied. In fact, Inventus has quantified an average of 80% data reduction prior to attorney review when some of these technologies are indeed leveraged.
Humans are not skilled at multi-tasking amidst a barrage of technological distractions.
Erik Bliss weighed in by walking the audience through a “hypothetical” scenario in which an attorney is attempting to draft a brief. Throughout the course of this scenario, the attorney continuously finds themselves being interrupted by a confluence of outside distractions. What ensued was a comical, yet very realistic portrayal of exactly how technology can make a seemingly simple task incredibly time-consuming and/or impossible to complete. This attorney was being bombarded throughout their day with emails from co-workers about the football game the night before, calls from his wife about dinner options (including meatloaf), and texts from his daughter about social activities, amongst others. Ultimately, the attorney spent the entire day drafting this brief, and it was done so with a minimal amount of attention to detail.
Office workers are interrupted—or self-interrupt—roughly every three minutes,
academic studies have found, with numerous distractions coming in both digital and human forms. Once thrown off track, it can take some 23 minutes for a worker to return to the original task, says Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, who studies digital distraction.
Kate Mayer Mangan supported Erik Bliss’ comical-yet-true scenario with the psychology and science behind the types of distractions that plagued our attorney (and all attorneys for that matter) throughout their attempt to draft a brief. In addition to presenting empirical-based evidence that demonstrated humans’ inability to perform cognitive multi-tasking with as many technological distractions as we now have, Kate also provided insight into the potential ethical implications associated with these common distractors. She provided an all too common example of an attorney diligently working on a brief when he/she receives an “urgent” text message from their nanny. The attorney stops to read and react to the message, yet the clock continues to run as it pertains to billable time for his/her client.
The presentation then shifted to a roundtable discussion amongst the panel and audience around many of the topics that we addressed. What ensued was a lively, highly interactive conversation regarding the benefits and pitfalls of technology as it pertains to attorneys’ day-to-day practices, the ethical implications that one must be cognizant of (including a duty to remain competent from an eDiscovery perspective) and some suggestions on how one can truly stay focused in this technology-driven world, including turning off automatic notifications and/or blocking particular websites or applications, amongst a variety of other extremely simple, yet helpful ideas.
This was a truly unique subject matter, which elicited widespread interest and debate; this presentation was recorded so that it can be offered as a webinar for any and all who may be interested. Please contact Andrew Bayer if you would like more information regarding this presentation and the future option of viewing it online as a webinar.
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