Artificial intelligence has given legal professionals an arsenal of tools to help them tackle the challenges of ESI and its unprecedented growth in the modern world. However, so far in our AI Legal Revolution series, the tools we’ve discussed have largely been reactive; solutions that attempt to resolve problems instead of anticipate them.
In other words, an alley-oop to attorneys who are desperately scrambling to play catch up.
Don’t get us wrong, these “catch up” tools are a much-needed boost over some of document review’s biggest hurdles. But what if AI software could do more than just react… what if, instead, it could act?
With early case assessment (ECA) software, attorneys now have the ability to do just that.
Here’s a closer look at the clairvoyant powers of ECA software, and how this technology can be used to improve discovery processes for legal professionals around the globe.
WHAT IS EARLY CASE ASSESSMENT (ECA)?
“Early case assessment” (or “ECA,” as it’s often shortened to), occurs at the beginning of a lawsuit, and is essentially the process of evaluating potential risks and costs associated with any given case.
During this phase of discovery, attorneys sift through electronically stored information (ESI), looking for patterns and evidence, which are then used to:
- Perform a cost/benefit analysis on a case.
- Preserve relevant documents.
- Respond to discovery requests.
- Cull irrelevant information from further review.
- Identify documents to organize and filter.
- Collect information for data analytics.
- Compile evidence for outside, expert review.
- Highlight redaction, translation, and transcription
The information uncovered during the ECA process ultimately helps shape case trajectories, lay the groundwork for future arguments, and predict the chances of success for every possible avenue.
And—not to sound like an alarmist or anything—but for modern attorneys, this information can often play a critical role in either the success or demise of an entire case.
Here’s a closer look.
The Game Day Strategies of ECA
Think of the ECA process like a really good coach, and legal professionals, the players. Now, pretend that we split these players into two teams; on one side of the court, you have Team “Nah, We Got This,” who train as individuals, and pride themselves on having no coach. On the other side, is Team “Teach Us Your Ways,” who understand the value of good leadership, and have taken care to employ the best coach money can hire.
Even if the two teams are equally matched, have the same skill set, and identical access to top of the line training facilities, who do you think is going to win the match on game day?
(You see where we’re going with this, right?)
A collection of professional athletes might be able to win a few games on their own, but without the coordination and insight of a skilled coach, they will never be as good as they could be.
The same goes for legal teams who forgo the ECA process.
Early case assessment provides the very foundation upon which a lawsuit is built. It guides attorneys toward avenues most likely to succeed, and shows them where their time, skills, and resources will be most valuable.
However—like that gallon of milk sitting in your fridge—the strategic insights found during the ECA process have a “best by” date. In order to have the biggest impact, these connections need to be gleaned with as much speed, efficiency, and thrifty spending as possible.
Considering all the problems with e-discovery, unstructured data, and document review, though, is such a feat even possible?
THE GROWING PROBLEM OF UNSTRUCTURED DATA IN ECA
If you’ve been keeping up with this legal blog series, then you already know all about the headaches that unstructured media have created for legal professionals. Namely: there’s just too much of it.
With so many ways for the average person (and business) to create content—from personal photos, videos, security surveillance, satellites, emails, body cams, zoom meetings, and more—attorneys now find themselves crushed under massive amounts of media content. A mountain of data that might very well contain valuable evidence, but which feels a little like searching for a needle in a Mt. Everest-sized haystack.
The sheer volume of this content is putting a huge strain on legal teams, who are beginning to buckle under the constraints of time, money, and workforce shortages—let alone provide any kind of meaningful early case assessment.
Unfortunately, this technological wave isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. Indeed, according to some estimates, roughly 80% of the data, worldwide, will be unstructured by 2025. Which, naturally, begs the question of what is to be done in the face of such mounting problems in an uncertain future…
According to our crystal ball, the answer is artificial intelligence.
ECA SOFTWARE: THE LAWSUIT GAME CHANGER
As the saying goes, “The only way to fight fire, is with fire.” Or, for our purposes, “The only way to fight the dark side of technology, is to apply a little technology, yourself”
By applying artificial intelligence to discovery processes, ECA software makes early case assessment a hundred times more efficient, faster, and cost effective; giving attorneys the tools they need to continue capitalizing on this critical phase of a lawsuit with more detailed precision than ever before.
Indeed, when unleashed on e-discovery, it can help attorneys:
- Explore huge amounts of ESI at near real time speeds;
- Search, discover, analyze, and cull information;
- Identify patterns and formulate arguments;
- Analyze media evidence, including photos, audio, and video data;
- Redact, translate, and transcribe information from text, audio, or video files;
- Organize data by keyword, facial, or image search;
- Compare and contrast evidence with outside case data; as well as,
- Optimize workflow into any e-discovery platform.
With these tools, it’s no longer necessary for legal teams to slog through e-discovery, frantically trying to both glean information and react to it, simultaneously. Instead, they can find connections, make judgments, and narrow the scope of a lawsuit with enough time to actually do something about it—even if that means it’s better to settle.
And with over 95% of cases doing just that, this means legal professionals are much better at predicting where their time, money, and brainpower will be most effective, saving a lot of hassle for everyone, all around.
ACCESSING ECA’S PRECOG POWERS: ANYTIME, ANYWHERE
There’s no doubt about it: the precog connections that ECA software can make are an invaluable addition to the AI legal revolution. While this technology might not actually be able to tell the future, it gets close enough, providing attorneys with complex strategies for any case at near real time speeds.
(And with the ability to foretell the path of greatest success, who really needs a fortune teller, anyway?)
The best part is, these tools can be flexibly accessed either locally, online, or both; giving legal professionals the ability to tap into the precog powers of ECA, no matter where they might find themselves—even if it’s just riding out the next wave of pandemic lockdowns.
With that flexibility in mind, the future looks nothing but bright for clients, attorneys, and the overall success of the AI legal revolution.