How to Get Started with TAR in eDiscovery

July 14, 2021



Mitch Montoya
Mitch Montoya

In a recent post, we discussed that requesting parties often demand more transparency with a Technology Assisted Review (TAR) process than they do with a process involving keyword search and manual review. So, how do you get started using (and understanding) TAR without having to defend it?  A fairly simple approach: start with some use cases that don’t require you to defend your use of TAR to outside parties.

Getting Comfortable with the TAR Workflow

It’s difficult to use TAR for the first time in a case for which you have production deadlines and demands from requesting parties. One way to become comfortable with the TAR workflow is to conduct it on a case you’ve already completed, using the same document set with which you worked in that prior case. Doing so can accomplish two goals:

  1. You develop a better understanding of how the TAR algorithm learns to identify potentially responsive documents: Based on documents that you classify as responsive (or non-responsive), you will see the algorithm begin to rank other documents in the collection as likely to be responsive as well. Assuming your review team was accurate in classifying responsive documents manually, you will see how those same documents are identified as likely to be responsive by the algorithm, which engenders confidence in the algorithm’s ability to accurately classify documents.
  2. You learn how the TAR algorithm may identify potentially responsive documents that were missed by the review team: Human reviewers are only human, and they sometimes misclassify documents. In fact, many studies would say they misclassify them regularly. Assuming that the TAR algorithm is properly trained, it will often more accurately classify documents (that are responsive and non-responsive) than the human reviewers, enabling you to learn how the TAR algorithm can catch mistakes that your human reviewers have made.

Other Use Cases for TAR

Even if you don’t have the time to use TAR on a case you’ve already completed, you can use TAR for other use cases that don’t require a level of transparency with opposing counsel, such as:

  • Internal Investigations: When an internal investigation dictates review of a document set that is conducive to using TAR, this is a terrific opportunity to conduct and refine your TAR process without outside review or transparency requirements to uphold.
  • Review Data Produced to You: Turnabout is fair play, right? There is no reason you can’t use TAR to save costs reviewing the documents produced to you to while determining whether the producing party engaged in a document dump.
  • Prioritizing Your Document Set for Review: Even if you plan to review the entire set of potentially responsive documents, using TAR can help you prioritize the set for review, pushing documents less likely to be responsive to the end of the queue. This can be useful in rolling production scenarios, or if you think that eventual settlement could obviate the need to reduce the entire collection.

Combining TAR technology with efficient workflows that maximize the effectiveness of the technology takes time and expertise. Working with experts who understand how to get the most out of the TAR algorithm is important. But it can still be daunting to use TAR for the first time in a case where you must meet a stringent level of defensibility and transparency with opposing counsel. Applying TAR to use cases first where that level of transparency is not required enables your company to get to that efficient and effective workflow—before you have to prove its efficacy to an outside party.

About the Author

Mitch Montoya

Mitch is a Content Marketing Manager at Lighthouse whose focus is connecting industry leaders, clients, and communities to the stories and solutions that impact them most. At Lighthouse, Mitch writes and develops stories highlighting the advancements in artificial intelligence, big data, and information governance. He also brings together industry leaders for thoughtful conversations on the legal technology revolution as the producer of Lighthouse’s podcast, Law & Candor. Prior to Lighthouse, he was a Thought Leadership Marketing Manager at H5, specializing in creative storytelling, brand and messaging development, and content and digital strategy. Mitch started his career as a journalist and earned a Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago.