Attorneys Are Getting Better at Tech But There Are Still Some Challenges

October 24, 2019

The best attorneys put bad actors in prison, but in order to do that they need to gather evidence to support their cases in court. With the plethora of data types and sources, attorneys must organize it for quick recall, but data also comes with its own mistakes. JD Supra reveals the, “Top Five Data Collection Mistakes” and ways to avoid them in the litigation process.

There are two main data types: traditional and nontraditional. Users create traditional data, organize and place it in workflows. Nontraditional workflows comes from sources there have few or no collection or processing procedures. These usually come from social media, chat applications, cloud platforms, and text messages. Attorneys need to determine what data types they are handling in litigation, but be aware of potential mistakes.

The easiest mistake to make is not realize that different data types require different collection methods. Extracting information from a computer requires knowledge about its operating system and manufacturer. Cell phone data has its own complications, such as if the data is backed up on a cloud or if the vendor must be contacted to retrieve metadata. Discovering who owns data is another issue. Data is stored on personal devices, the cloud, third party systems, and more. Ownership becomes questionable as well as if data must be shared if not physically owned. Governance policies, customer workflows, and data maps are necessary in order to address data ownership.

Proportionality cannot be ignored. A court could rule that retrieving data outweighs its usefulness. Any data, however, could change a case:

“As always, the success of this argument will depend on the specific facts of a case. For example, one federal court held that a request for text messages was disproportional to the burden of collecting and producing them even though they had been produced in a pre-litigation investigation because the text messages only added minimal evidentiary value to the case. Litigators must be able to clearly articulate a proportionality argument in order to successfully avoid the production of minimally relevant/useful data.”

Misunderstanding proportionality is understandable, but not recognizing data structure and storage is a beginner’s mistake. In order for eDiscovery algorithms to work, they need to be programmed to scan data from different database structures and storage devices. Programming the algorithm wrong is the same as expecting a US electric appliance to work in another country. Data structure and storage is not universal. Attorneys need to remember to cover all data points, search everything. Another amateur mistake is forgetting to collect data that does not provide context for raw data, it is like trying to decipher a secret code without the cipher key.

These are simple mistakes to make, but with new technology and data types new mistakes will develop. Keeping abreast of new trends, technology, communication methods, and data laws will prevent them from appearing.

Whitney Grace, October 24, 2019

Vendors Serving the eDiscovery Sector Get a Boost

May 22, 2018

Online forensics and eDiscovery are in a state of serious change. Many people are unaware of the federal changes that occurred in this world, but those in the industry are struggling to catch up. We discovered what the most recent change means in an eDiscovery Law and Tech Blog story, “A Rule 902(14) Process of Digital Authentication of Social Media Evidence Explained.”

According to the story:

“FRE 902(14) provides that electronic data recovered ‘by a process of digital identification’ is to be self-authenticating, thereby not routinely necessitating the trial testimony of a forensic or technical expert where best practices are employed. Instead, such properly collected electronic evidence can be certified through a written declaration by a ‘qualified person,’ attesting that they verified the hash value of an offered item of electronic evidence and that it was identical to the original.”

Consider the terabytes of data that is saved on social media, blogs, websites and all the other nooks and crannies online. It’s such a big terrain that attorneys and others needing to utilize eDiscovery simply can’t navigate it. This is the dawn of a new business model, according to some experts, like PageVault which is a “provider of web capture solutions, offers in-house software and vendor services to easily capture, preserve and authenticate web content such as webpages, websites, social media, videos, images, and documents.” Seems like wherever the federal government creates a door, ingenuity creates a window.

Patrick Roland, May 22, 2018

Analyze the JFK Files to Your Hearts Content

December 20, 2017

History buffs, especially those interested in the JFK assassination, may want to check this out—“Research the JFK Files for Free with Logikcull.” Since the National Archives’ release of previously classified documents on the matter, eDiscovery firm Logikcull has uploaded them to their platform. They invite anyone interested to delve into the data and help make sense of it, using their software. It is a crowd-sourced project around a matter of great public interest that happens to expose potential users to their platform’s abilities—well-played. The post specifies:

The files are, of course, a mess. They are disorganized, incomplete, voluminous, and cobbled together from dozens of different sources. That is, they’re just like the files you’d find in any other document-intensive investigation. And, thankfully, we have eDiscovery software that is designed to help you make order and insight out of just such a mess. … To help researchers, journalists, JFK enthusiasts, concerned members of the public, and the like, we’ve uploaded the documents from the JFK Files into Logikcull, allowing you to apply Logikcull’s state-of-the-art discovery technology to the nearly 3,000 records released by the government. You can use Logikcull to cull through the junk and focus in on the documents that most interest you, to build complex, powerful searches with ease, and flag documents with tags of your choosing. There’s no need to flip through the documents declassified page by declassified page.

To get in on the sleuthing, readers are told to send an email to with the subject, “JFK Research Account,” and to specify their name, title, and company. It will be interesting what connections and conclusions this project turns up.

Founded in 2004 and based in San Francisco, Logikcull serves organizations from the US Government to Fortune 500 companies. They also happen to be hiring as of this writing.

Cynthia Murrell, December 20, 2017

Thomson Reuters Pays for Sales Calls?

December 3, 2017

Navigate to this Thomson Reuters’ Web page. The eDiscovery unit of the professional publishing company is paying $50 for a sales meeting. I learned about this because Thomson Reuters is using Google advertising to snag potential customers who run queries for “ediscovery.”


You won’t get cash money, but you get an Amazon gift card. There are some caveats, of course. You have to fill out a form and attend a meeting. I assume that Thomson Reuters wants to pay real live attorneys to listen to whatever the TR Legal Solutions professional has to say. Such a deal. I wonder if eDiscovery leads are that difficult to surface. My hunch is that when a top law firm sells out or closes up shop, the pool of eDiscovery prospects is roiled. Remarkable. If the link doesn’t resolve, a senior manager may have been as stunned as I was. Paying cash to lawyers to listen to a sales presentation. Yikes.

Stephen E Arnold, December 3, 2017

Palantir Technologies: The Buzzfeed Beat

July 3, 2017

I read “There’s a Fight Brewing between the NYPD and Silicon Valley’s Palantir.” Two points about this story. Palantir Technologies, a vendor profiled in my CyberOSINT and Dark Web Notebook reports is probably going to keep its eye on the real journalistic outfit Buzzfeed. I don’t know much about “real” journalism, but my hunch is that if Palantir’s stakeholders find the Buzzfeed write up coverage interesting, some of those folks might spill their Philz coffee.

The other point is that the New York Police Department may find questions about its contractual dealings a bit of distraction from the quotidian tasks the force faces each day. I would not characterize “real” journalists asking questions “annoying,” but I would hazard the phrase “time consuming” or the word “distracting.”


“You want me to believe that?” asks Max, a skeptical show dog who knows that some owners will do anything to win.

The point of the “Fight Brewing” write up strikes me as a story designed to suggest that Palantir Technologies may be showing some signs of stress. When I read the story, I thought of the news which swirled around some of the defunct enterprise search companies when one of their client engagements went south. Vendors hit with these situations can do little but ride out the storm.

Hey, enterprise search was routinely oversold. When a system was up and running, the results were usually similar to the results generated by the previous “solution to all your information problems.” The search engineers who coded the systems knew that overpromising and under delivering were highly probable once the on switch was flipped. But the sales professional were going to say what was necessary to close the deal. In fact, most of the fancy promises about an enterprise search system set the company up for failure.

Is that what’s going on in the NYPD-Palantir “showdown”? To wit:

Palantir explained the system’s functions and outputs. The NYPD signed on. Then when the system was installed, additional work was needed to make the Palantir system meet the expectations set by the Palantir sales engineers.

The “Fight Brewing” story says:

The NYPD quietly began work last summer on its replacement data system, and in February it announced internally that it would cancel its Palantir contract and switch to the new system by the beginning of July, according to three people familiar with the matter. The new system, named Cobalt, is a group of IBM products tied together with NYPD-created software. The police department believes Cobalt is cheaper and more intuitive than Palantir, and prizes the greater degree of control it has over this system.

Keep in mind that I, before I retired in 2013, had been an adviser to the original i2 Group Ltd., the company which created in my opinion the analytic and visualization method which defines modern cyber eDiscovery in the 1990s.

The notion that IBM, which now owns i2’s Analyst’s Notebook, is working hard to close deals in key Palantir accounts from what I have heard in the general store in Harrod’s Creek.

I don’t have to go much farther than my own experience to get a sense that the “fight” may be a manifestation of how the world works when it comes to making sales for systems like Palantir’s Gotham or IBM’s i2. In my work career I have seen some interesting jabs and punches thrown to close a deal.

The NYPD, like any organization, wants systems which work and represent good value. Incumbent vendors have to find a way to retain a customer. Competitors have to find a way to get a licensee of one product to switch to a different product.

I noted this statement in the “Fight Brewing” story:

Palantir has struggled to expand its work with the police force, the emails show. As of March and April 2015, Palantir had had “little exposure to the top brass,” and although it wanted to add more business, “the door there clearly still remains closed given the larger political environment,” staffers wrote in emails. A staffer at one point invoked a phrase popularized by Thiel, author of Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, saying that Palantir still needed to get “from 0->1 at NYPD.”

Now how many police forces in the US can afford a comprehensive cyber eDiscovery system like Palantir Gotham or IBM Analyst’s Notebook? This is an important point because the number of potential customers is quite small. For example, after NY, LA, Chicago, Miami, and maybe three or four other cities, the sales professional runs out of viable prospects. How many counties can foot the bill for the software, the consultants, and the people required to tag and analyze the data? The number is modest. How many US states can afford the investment in high end cyber eDiscovery software? Again, the number is small, and you can count out Illinois because getting bills paid is an interesting challenge. The same market size problem exists for US government entities.

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eDiscovery to Get a Fillip with DISCO

June 23, 2017

A legal technology company has unveiled the next generation AI platform that will reduce time, efforts and money spent by law firms and large corporations on mundane legal discovery work. Named DISCO, the program was in beta phase for two years.

PR distribution platform BusinessWire in a release titled DISCO Launches Artificial Intelligence Platform for Legal Technology quotes:

While there will be many applications for DISCO AI, initially the focus is to dramatically reduce the time, burden, and cost of identifying evidence in legal document review — a process known as eDiscovery.

Many companies have attempted to automate the process of eDiscovery, the success rates, however, have been far from encouraging. Apart from disrupting the legal industry, automated processes like the ones offered by DISCO will render many people in the industry jobless. AI creators, however, say that their intention is to speed up the process and reduce costs to organizations. But again, as technology advances, job losses are inevitable.

Vishal Ingole,  June 23, 2017

X1 Hits a Familiar Marketing Chord

July 27, 2016

I had the job of reviewing some of the 100 eDiscovery systems on offer today. I noted an interesting semantic thrust in “Recent Court Decisions, Key Industry Report Reveal Broken eDiscovery Collection Processes.”

X1 states:

What is needed is an effective, scalable and systemized ESI collection process that makes enterprise eDiscovery collection much more feasible. More advanced enterprise class technology, such as X1 Distributed Discovery, can accomplish system-wide searches that are narrowly tailored to collect only potentially relevant information in a legally defensible manner. This process is better, faster and dramatically less expensive than other methods currently employed.

I highlighted the point that targeted search and collection  can reduce the costs of certain legal processes. Recommind made, prior to its acquisition  by OpenText, similar statements about cost reduction.

It strikes me that the number of 90 percent cost reduction begs for some hard data. Also, with so many eDiscovery firms  competing for law firms’ business, is this once lucrative niche in a race toward Amazon- and Walmart-type pricing?

Perhaps there are several issues involved with the problem lawyers have when using eDiscovery systems? These may be:

  • Unrealistic expectations for an eDiscovery system. Google does one thing; eDiscovery does another.
  • Sticker shock. Despite the low cost of a license fee for a cloud service, there are other costs. These range from customer and engineering support to the need to pay for resources that cost money without doing much to alert the customer that a threshold has been crossed. Taxi meter and old school AT&T network pricing may dampen some eDiscovery licensees’ enthusiasm
  • Federating content from multiple sources sounds wonderful. In my experience, what does one do about exception documents? What do eDiscovery systems “miss”?

As the financial pressure mounts on many law firms, cost controls are likely to rework how these companies do business. The impact on “search” vendors now in the eDiscovery sector may find themselves facing the type of financial realities which caused Recommind to reinvent its future as a company.

Stephen E Arnold, July 27, 2016

ZyLab Places eDiscovery in the Cloud

June 23, 2016

Through their Press Room site, ZyLab announces, “Zylab Introduces eDiscovery as a Service.” Billed as a cost-saving alternative to in-house solutions, the new platform allows users to select and pay for only the services they need through a monthly subscription. The press-release tells us:

“ZyLAB today announces that its eDiscovery solutions are now also delivered via the Internet in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model in EMEA and AP via a managed service provider model. ZyLAB’s eDiscovery as a Service is introduced as the cost-effective alternative for organizations that do not have the time or IT resources to bring an eDiscovery solution in house. …

“With ZyLAB’s eDiscovery as a Service every type of company, in every industry can now easily scope the level of system they require. ZyLAB’s services span the entire Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) so a company can select the precise services that meet the needs of their current matter. The Service Level Agreement (SLA) will outline those selections and guarantee the availability of the data, ZyLAB’s software, and ongoing maintenance from ZyLAB’s Professional Services consultants.”

We are assured ZyLab’s SaaS solutions are of the same caliber as their on-premises solutions.  This approach can save a lot of time and hassle, especially for companies without a dedicated IT department. The write-up notes there are no long-term contracts or volume constraints involved,

and, of course, no new hardware to buy. If a company is willing to trust their data to a third party’s security measures, this could be a cost-effective way to manage eDiscovery.

Of course, if you were to trust anyone with your sensitive data, ZyLab’s record makes them a good choice. In fact, the company has been supplying eDiscovery and Information Government tech to prominent organizations for over three decades now. Large corporations, government organizations, regulatory agencies, and law firms around the world rely on their eDiscovery platform. The company was founded in 1983, with the release of the first full-text retrieval software for the PC. It’s eDiscovery/ Information Management platform was released in 2010.


Cynthia Murrell, June 23, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Axcelerate Focuses on Control and Visibility

June 13, 2016

The article on CMSWire titled Recommind Adds Muscle to Cloud e-Discovery relates the upgrades to the Axcelerate e-Discovery platform from Recommind. The muscle referred to in the article title is the new Efficiency Scoring feature offered to increase e-discovery review process transparency by tracking efficiency and facilitating a consistent assessment. The article explains,

“Axcelerate Cloud is built on Recommind’s interactive business intelligence layer to give legal professionals a depth of insight into the e-discovery process that Recommind says they have previously lacked. Behind all the talk of agility and visibility, there is one goal here: control. The company hopes this release allays the fears of legal firms, who traditionally have been reluctant to use cloud-based software for fear of compromising data.”

Hal Marcus, Director of Product Marketing at Recommind, suggested that in spite of early hesitancy by legal professional to embrace the cloud, current legal teams are more open to the possibilities available through consolidation of discovery requirements in the cloud. According to research, there are no enterprise legal departments without cloud-based legal resources related to contract management, billing, or e-discovery. Axcelerate Cloud aims to promote visibility into discovery practices to address the major concern among legal professionals: insufficient insight and transparency.



Chelsea Kerwin, June 13, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Extensive Cultural Resources Available at Europeana Collections

May 17, 2016

Check out this valuable cultural archive, highlighted by Open Culture in the piece, “Discover Europeana Collections, a Portal of 48 Million Free Artworks, Books, Videos, Artifacts & Sounds from across Europe.” Writer Josh Jones is clearly excited about the Internet’s ability to place information and artifacts at our fingertips, and he cites the Europeana Collections as the most extensive archive he’s discovered yet. He tells us the works are:

“… sourced from well over 100 institutions such as The European Library, Europhoto, the National Library of Finland, University College Dublin, Museo Galileo, and many, many more, including contributions from the public at large. Where does one begin?

“In such an enormous warehouse of cultural history, one could begin anywhere and in an instant come across something of interest, such as the the stunning collection of Art Nouveau posters like that fine example at the top, ‘Cercle Artstique de Schaerbeek,’ by Henri Privat-Livemont (from the Plandiura Collection, courtesy of Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalynya, Barcelona). One might enter any one of the available interactive lessons and courses on the history of World War I or visit some of the many exhibits on the period, with letters, diaries, photographs, films, official documents, and war propaganda. One might stop by the virtual exhibit, ‘Photography on a Silver Plate,’ a fascinating history of the medium from 1839-1860, or ‘Recording and Playing Machines,’ a history of exactly what it sounds like, or a gallery of the work of Swiss painter Jean Antoine Linck. All of the artifacts have source and licensing information clearly indicated.”

Jones mentions the archive might be considered “endless,” since content is being added faster than anyone could hope to keep up with.  While such a wealth of information and images could easily overwhelm a visitor, he advises us to look at it as an opportunity for discovery. We concur.


Cynthia Murrell, May 17, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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