ACEDS: A peek inside the ‘black box’ of TAR: understanding text mining

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It is sweeping in and changing the landscape of litigation, but even as practitioners learn to operate the tools of technology-assisted review—Axcelerate, Equivio, Inview, and the like—many still cannot explain what it is they actually do. The fact of modern life is that few of us have the time or inclination to do more than take it on faith that our laptops will compute and our refrigerators will stay cold. We rarely find ourselves in a high stakes interrogation, justifying our choices in appliances.

But lawyers in e-discovery must often negotiate, defend and challenge the reasonableness of key technology-assisted review (TAR) decisions. Bells and whistles aside, TAR boils down to specialized text mining, so e-discovery practitioners who know their way around text mining have an edge when called upon to educate stakeholders, evaluate options, spot opportunities, and make cogent arguments for and against using the tools within a workflow. As an added bonus, facility in text mining promises future returns beyond e-discovery as the universe of data balloons, and the effective search of large bodies of data, whether structured or unstructured, assumes ever-greater importance.

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