Analytics Part 4: Finding The Knowledge Worker

So, We Need Help, Now What??

As the sophistication of technology in various disciplines increases (whether that is TAR, Big Data Mining, or more pure application of analytics) one thing is clear, the people operating the emerging technologies are as important as the tools they employ.  So, where does one find this elusive renaissance employee, this knowledge worker with mastery of new and emerging technology?

Should every company immediately go out and hire statisticians as one of my very well-respected peers had the ability to do, or should they groom a tier of savants purely to exploit data from day one, or laterally hire out of tangent industries or rely on the benevolence of vendors or go the consultant route? In this ever-changing landscape, how can a law firm, corporation or even an individual stay poised to ride out the next iterations of the Analytics revolution?

Man & Machine Stronger Together

Determining Your Need

Whether you are in the eDiscovery space, or in the business of purely crunching big data, the first step remains the same.  To truly know the type of talent to source, you must understand the extent of your need.  Will you be mining data daily and applying complicated analytics with the need for on going statistical validation, will you have dozens or hundreds of cases that plan to apply aggressive analytics and full Predictive Coding level TAR or is it more likely that your clients really want to hear about the sexy new solution but will ultimately still heavily rely on less than full application of analytics?

It is, however important to not purely look at your needs today.  As I mentioned at a recent Women in E- Discovery meeting, while on the law firm side there may be reticence to apply more aggressive analytics, the same cannot be said for corporate counterparts.  For every partner that shoots down the use of TAR several outside counsel is inquiring about it, and more than inquiring actually testing and applying the various iterations of Analytics/TAR/ Predictive Coding that are on the market today.  understanding the risk profile of a your firm’s client base or your company generally is key in projecting future adoption of some level of Analytics across a wide array of daily activities (CRM, customer buying trends, analyzing complex financials, data mining and of course managing information governance, cyber security concerns and eDiscovery in a post Big Data World.)

At minimum, nearly every company or firm in the legal and technology space should have someone dedicated to learning about the legal and cyber threats and tools in the analytic spectrum.  Even if there is a strong internal reticence to use these solutions, there may come a day where the decision is no longer in the hands of the firm.

Sourcing Externally For a Permanent Addition

If after reviewing the caseload, risk profile and current usage of analytics the conclusion is that there needs to be someone with a strong understanding of the  practice specific tools, or statistics, or lambda calculus, the quickest solution is to source a lateral (but expensive) SME or find a graduate or PhD student or professor with a strength in the underlying science or math behind the tools you plan to employ.

Hire The Brains

Major law firms and corporations can likely source from their competitors or even (dare I say) their consultants and service providers to find a high level solution expert.  This will be  a large monetary investment, and will likely narrow your set of solutions to the tool kit your expert used to sell from.  To a hammer every problem looks like a nail. Going the route of bringing in a pure science or mathematic expert has the benefit of likely costing less, but possibly requiring some ramp up time on the specifics of what you require in terms of the practice area and suite of tools that normally are used.  Either option is good if you have a substantial volume of analytic work that looks to be on the rise.

Growing internally

If, perhaps, the volume of Analytic related work is not quite as high or the budget is not as large another viable option is to dedicate internal resources to learn about the various tools and to become SME’s for the firm.  Many law firms have actually already begun this by having more junior attorneys take over discovery matters generally, the next step would be to focus them on proactively learning about the emerging technologies via conferences, specific course work (if the young attorneys did not have a background in statistics etc), and direct training with specific providers.  The litigation support team is also an area ripe with talent that can be trained up to support the increasingly sophisticated suite of solutions.  even if the company or firm doesn’t plan to use advanced analytic solutions, it is difficult to say when the sheer volume of data will necessitate or when a client or government entity may dictate its use.

Great resources for “training up” internally include: Blogs like Ralph Losey’s eDiscovery Team and the eDisclosure Information project (look under my resources page for a few dozen other great resources), vendor sites that provide white papers, courses in statistics and analytics offered at local colleges (Georgetown and GW both offer interesting applicable courses in the evenings), Conferences and groups like Legal Tech and Women in eDiscovery are great resources , as are regional groups, and local providers, most are only too happy to show their solutions off and explain how their tools work.

Relying on  Friends (Like Me!)

If perhaps dedicating the resources and time to hire or grow Analytics experts internally doesn’t make sense yet or perhaps you are doing this but think that you may need more help, there is always the option of external augmentation.  The area  TAR/Analytics/Big Data are still emerging, but the practices and businesses they support are established with a deep bench of experts that can officially and unofficially help.  Whether you need high-level case consultants, mid level technology and personnel management that is familiar with the advanced tools that are on the market o simply talent that has the experience and capability to effective and efficiently operate the tools on the market, there are providers and people who you can reach out to for guidance.  Thankfully, you are not navigating this ever-changing sea on your own.

If after looking at your firm or company you are still shaking your head reach out to an expert, most of us are happy to just talk you through beginning the process of determining how to approach this entire TAR/ Analytics beast.  There is not a right or wrong answer yet, the key is to reach out for help before you have the massive case at your door, and have the resources at your finger tips to call into action when (not if) that happens!

Over the coming weeks and months I will focus on defining “What is Managed Review” and “When do I need to call in and expert” as well as emerging case law and any suggestions from you!  Also, I am sorry for the lag between postings!  I have just started with a wonderful new company, Advanced Discovery as the Vice President of Managed Review, and have been getting my Sea legs as they say!  Export more from eDsicvoeryCat now that I have landed on my feet (and forgive the awful pun!)

Cat Casey

Cat Casey

Catherine A. Casey | Vice President of Managed Review
D: 202.618.3802 | C: 301.404.3954

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