Purchasing AI for eDiscovery: Tips and Best Practices

January 13, 2022



Sarah Moran
Sarah Moran

eDiscovery is currently undergoing a fundamental sea change, including how we think about data governance and the EDRM. Linear review and older analytic tools are quickly becoming outdated and unable to handle modern datasets, i.e., eDiscovery datasets that are not only more voluminous than ever before, but also more complicated – emanating from an ever-evolving list of new data sources and steeped in variety of text and non-text-based languages (foreign language, slang, emojis, video, etc.).

Working at a laptop

Fortunately, technological advancements in AI have led to a new class of eDiscovery tools that are purpose built to handle “big data.” These tools can more accurately identify and classify responsiveness, privileged, and sensitive information, parse multiple formats, and even provide attorneys with data insights gleaned from an organization’s entire legal portfolio.

This is great news for legal practitioners who are faced with reviewing and analyzing these more challenging datasets. However, evaluating and selecting the right AI technology can still present its own unique hurdles and complexities. The intense purchasing process can raise questions like: Is all AI the same? If not, what is the difference between AI-based tools? What features are right for my organization or firm? And once I’ve found a tool I like, how do I make the case for purchasing it to my firm or organization?

These are all tough questions and can lead you down a rabbit hole of research and never-ending discussions with technology and eDiscovery vendors. However, the right preparation can make a world of difference. Leveraging the below steps will help you simplify the process, obtain answers to your fundamental questions, and ultimately select the right technology that will help you overcome your eDiscovery challenges and up level your eDiscovery program.

1. Familiarize Yourself with Subsets of AI in eDiscovery

Newer AI technology is significantly better at tackling today’s modern eDiscovery datasets than legacy technology. It can also provide legal teams with previously unheard-of data insights, improving efficiency and accuracy while enabling more data-driven strategic decisions. However, not all technology is the same – even if technology providers tend to generally refer to it all as “AI.” There are many different subsets of AI technology, and each may have vastly different capabilities and benefits. It’s important to understand what subsets of AI can provide the benefits you’re looking for, and how those different technology subsets can work together. For example, Natural Language Processing (NLP) enables an AI-based tool to understand text the same way that humans understand it – thus providing much more accurate classifications results – while AI tools that leverage deep learning technology together with NLP are better able to handle large and complex datasets more efficiently and accurately. Other subsets of AI give tools the ability to re-use data across matters as well as across entire legal portfolios. Learning more about each subset and the capability and benefits they can provide before talking to eDiscovery vendors will give you the knowledge base necessary to narrow down the tools that will meet your specific needs.  

2. Learn How to Measure AI ROI

As a partner to human reviewers, advanced AI tools can provide a powerful return on investment (ROI). Understanding how to measure this ROI will enable you to ask the right questions during the purchasing process to ensure that you select a tool that aligns with your organization or law firm’s priorities. For example, if your team struggles with review accuracy when utilizing your current tools and workflows, you’ll want to ensure that the tool you purchase is quantifiably more accurate at classifying documents for responsiveness, privilege, sensitive information, etc. The same will be true for other ROI metrics that are important to your team, such as lower overall eDiscovery spend or increased review efficiency.

These metrics will also help you build a strong business case to purchase your chosen tool once you’ve selected it, as well as a verifiable way to confirm the tool is performing the way you want it to after purchase.

3. Come Prepared with a List of Questions

It’s easy to get swept up in conversations about tools and solutions that end without the metrics you need. A simple way to control the conversation and ensure you walk away with the information you need is to prepare a thorough list of questions that reflect your priorities. Also be sure to have a method to record each vendor’s response to your questions. A list of standard questions will keep conversations more productive and provide a way to easily contrast and compare the technology you’re evaluating. Ensure that you also ask for quantifiable metrics and examples to back up responses, as well as references from clients. This will help you verify that vendor responses are backed by data and evidence.

4. Know the Pitfalls of AI Adoption—and How to Avoid Them

It won’t matter how much you understand AI capabilities, whether you’ve asked the right questions, or whether you understand how to measure ROI, if you don’t know how to avoid common AI pitfalls. Even the best technology will fail to return the desired results if it’s not implemented properly or effectively. For example, there are some workflows that work best with advanced AI, while other workflows may fail to return the best results possible. Knowing this type of information ahead of time will help you get your team on board early, ensure a smooth implementation, and enable you to unlock the full potential of the technology.

These tips will help you better prepare for the AI purchasing process. For more information, be sure to download our guide to buying AI. This comprehensive guide offers a deep dive into tips and tactics that will help you fully evaluate potential eDiscovery AI tools to ensure you select the best tool for your needs. The guide can also be used to reevaluate your current AI and analytic eDiscovery tools to confirm you’re using the best available technology to meet today’s eDiscovery challenges.

About the Author

Sarah Moran

Sarah is a Director of Marketing at Lighthouse. Before coming to Lighthouse, she worked for a decade as a practicing attorney at a global law firm, specializing in eDiscovery counseling and case management, data privacy, and information governance. At Lighthouse, she happily utilizes her eDiscovery expertise to help our clients understand and leverage the ever-changing world of legal technology and data governance. She is a problem solver and a collaborator and welcomes any chance to discuss customer pain points in eDiscovery. Sarah earned her B.A. in English from Penn State University and her J.D. from Delaware Law School.