Ethical Obligations in Technology Assisted Review | Liskow & Lewis

Ethical Obligations in Technology Assisted Review | Liskow & Lewis

Know-how Assisted Evaluation (TAR), often known as predictive coding or computer-assisted evaluation, has been outlined as “[a] course of for prioritizing or coding a group of paperwork utilizing a computerized system that harnesses human judgments of a number of material knowledgeable(s) on a smaller set of paperwork after which extrapolates these judgments to the remaining doc assortment.” Maura R. Grossman and Gordon V. Cormack, “The Grossman-Cormack Glossary of Know-how Assisted Evaluation,” 7 Fed. Courts L. Rev. 1 (2013). If used accurately, TAR can lead to drastic financial savings for purchasers in document-intensive circumstances and supply extra correct outcomes. Nonetheless, as the usage of TAR expands, practitioners have to be conscious of the related moral pitfalls that will ensue.

Obligation of Competence

Attorneys beneath ABA Mannequin Rule 1.1 bear an obligation to offer competent illustration to their purchasers. Encompassed inside this obligation of competence is the obligation to remain “abreast of adjustments within the regulation and its follow, together with the advantages and dangers related to related know-how.” See ABA Mannequin Rue 1.1, cmt. eight. Competence consists of a minimum of a fundamental understanding of TAR with the intention to consider the suitable doc evaluation methodology for every case and implement a protocol for electronically saved data. Extra particularly, attorneys ought to be educated of the three normal document-review strategies: (1) linear evaluation, i.e. reviewing every doc one-by-one; (2) non-linear evaluation, usually involving idea looking, clustering, or close to de-duplication; and (three) TAR, a variation on non-linear evaluation. The precise info and proof of every case will dictate the suitable methodology of evaluation.

TAR shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all mannequin. Digital discovery distributors supply differing variations of TAR with their very own respective software program and coding strategies. There are two normal variations that attorneys ought to pay attention to. The unique model, which is historically known as predictive coding or TAR, is a technique of doc evaluation by which attorneys analyze a subset of paperwork known as a “seed set” for relevance after which submit these choices to a pc algorithm. The algorithm in flip: (1) examines the paperwork the attorneys have coded; (2) identifies comparable paperwork throughout the assortment; and (three) predicts whether or not the same paperwork are related or non-relevant based mostly on how the attorneys coded the seed set of paperwork.

The following technology of TAR, often known as steady energetic studying or TAR, makes use of steady energetic studying the place no preliminary seed set is important. Because the evaluation crew codes paperwork, the pc constantly takes and integrates the data and feeds the evaluation crew what it believes are probably the most responsive paperwork. When the evaluation crew will get to the purpose when the outcomes are not related, the evaluation has been accomplished. Attorneys should have a minimum of a rudimentary understanding of the TAR methodology to competently advise purchasers and in the end defend the usage of TAR in opposition to any challenges raised by opposing counsel.

Communication with Shoppers Relating to TAR

A baseline stage of competence concerning TAR goes hand in hand with an lawyer’s obligation to debate vital developments within the illustration of purchasers. Mannequin Rule 1.four gives that a lawyer’s obligation to speak requires a lawyer to “moderately seek the advice of with the shopper concerning the means by which the shopper’s goals are to be completed” and to “clarify a matter to the extent moderately mandatory to allow the shopper to make knowledgeable choices.” In a document-intensive case, communications with a shopper ought to embrace a dialogue of the benefits and downsides of utilizing TAR. For instance, benefits could embrace price financial savings and effectivity that yields extra correct outcomes whereas disadvantages may embrace controversies with opposing litigants that come up out of the usage of TAR. With out a minimum of a baseline understanding of TAR, legal professionals shall be unable to convey the dangers and advantages of TAR to purchasers that may in flip permit purchasers to make knowledgeable choices about the usage of TAR.

Tasks Relating to Non-Lawyer Help

A corollary to the obligation of competence within the TAR context is an lawyer’s duties concerning non-lawyer help. A lawyer could use non-lawyers outdoors the agency to help the lawyer in rendering authorized companies to the shopper, together with retention of an electronic-discovery vendor to help with TAR. ABA Mannequin Rule 5.three, cmt. three. An lawyer could ethically associate with an outdoor vendor however the onus is on the lawyer to make sure that the invention vendor acts ethically. ABA Mannequin Rule 5.three(b) (an lawyer partnering with a vendor shall have “direct supervisory authority” over the “non-lawyer” and will make sure that the seller’s conduct is “suitable with the skilled obligations of the lawyer”). In the end, it’s the lawyer who bears the burden of not solely making certain that the digital discovery vendor is competent but in addition understanding and supervising the seller’s work in reference to the usage of TAR.


TAR is an rising area of the regulation that’s creating far sooner than jurisprudence can sustain. The implications of an lawyer’s duties of confidentiality beneath Mannequin Rule 1.6 is one space of TAR regulation that attorneys ought to hold abreast of. Attorneys and courts alike shall be compelled to handle the difficulty of how a lot data a proponent of predictive coding ought to be required to offer earlier than there’s a danger of unveiling client-confidential data. One context the place this concern arises is whether or not a celebration is required to supply the “seed set” of paperwork used to coach the TAR. Seed units embrace irrelevant paperwork that might include confidential and even privileged data that aren’t required to be turned over beneath discovery guidelines. Attorneys also needs to be conscious that privileged data is perhaps inadvertently disclosed in reference to TAR. To guard in opposition to these considerations, attorneys ought to contemplate getting into into protecting orders, clawback agreements, and/or Rule 502(d) orders that mandate the return of privileged paperwork produced throughout discovery with out events fearing that the disclosure waives attorney-client or work-product privileges.


TAR can be utilized as a instrument that may save purchasers each money and time. The current revisions to the Federal Guidelines that emphasize proportionality as an element that ought to be thought of in limiting the scope of discovery leaves little question that TAR will ultimately turn out to be commonplace in circumstances that contain giant volumes of paperwork. Competent illustration requires an lawyer to have a minimum of a baseline understanding of TAR. As the usage of TAR in discovery turns into extra prevalent, practitioners can rely on courts holding each counsel and litigants to an ever-increasing moral commonplace in reference to its use.

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