Monday, January 27, 2014

We empower intelligent lawyering.

It's not the will to win that matters...everyone has that. It's the will to prepare to win that matters.”  Paul “Bear” Bryant

The Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos coaches, players and staff are no doubt extremely busy preparing game-plans for the Super Bowl.  Is there any individual on the planet as consumed with winning as the head coach of an NFL franchise? I suspect there are quite a few trial lawyers and barristers that can give them a run for their money.

 Whether you are Pete Carroll, John Fox, Peyton Manning, Richard Sherman or lead counsel in Matter No. 13-0194 set to begin Monday morning, February 3, 2014, sleep is not easy.  The fear of the unknown is the source of your sleep deprivation.  A portion of the fear can be attributed to the extremely complex process that must be managed, and the inevitable conclusion that a slip up in any area could be fatal. On the coaching side, a large database of plays run by and against your opponent and by you, a multitude of formations, personnel groupings, travel, media, injuries, curfews, and motivation techniques are weighing on your mind. For the trial attorneys, the review of thousands and potentially millions of pages documents, claims or waiver of privilege, deposition testimony, interrogatory responses, motion arguments, trial briefs, opening arguments, cross-examination, closing arguments, trial presentation, voir dire, and ability of associates to perform their role effectively have resided permanently in your psyche. For both the skilled football coach and the trial lawyer, the determining factor will be the ability to boil the complexity down to a simple, winning game-plan.  

The more significant driver of the fear of the unknown is human in nature.  It starts with the man or woman in the mirror. Have I done everything I can to achieve a good outcome? The other human source of fear is the person on the other side because guess what, they are pretty good at this too and like to win as much as you do. What do they know that I do not know? What surprises do they have in store for me? Do I have an answer or will I be embarrassed professionally? It is the unknown play, formation, document, or key piece of information that scares us.  When the autopsy is performed after the game or case, the losing side often says, “how did I not see it coming?” 

In order to win, your process and the technology married to it must find the unknown unknowns or the key game-changing information. I have seen white papers and blogs by electronic discovery software companies with Predictive Coding type of technologically assisted review claiming that the technology can help you find key or hot documents. In one such example, the review team trained the system by individually reviewing samples of 20,000 documents to identify nearly 1,000 hot documents. Any halfway competent lawyer will tell you that there are never 1,000 hot documents in a case.

The game changing documents often are truly one in a million.  A single instance where in a memorandum or an email the lead research scientist for big tobacco, a chemical or pharmaceutical company states, “in my opinion, this is killing people and I cannot in good faith continue to work here.” The samples in the example above were taken from a corpus of nearly a million documents.  Therefore, there is a 2% chance that this foundational, earth-shattering document would be part of the sample set. Are you willing to take the risk of not discovering this document with millions of dollars and your hard-earned professional reputation on the line?

Trained litigators will always be a key part of the process and cannot be replaced by computers. In between my undergraduate days and law school at Vanderbilt, I was Director of Ancillary Services (yes, I was a runner) for Neal & Harwell, a premier litigation firm located in Nashville.  Occasionally, between court filings and serving subpoenas, I had some interaction with Jim Neal, one the greatest trial lawyers this country has ever produced.  While his intellectual gifts and analytical abilities were unparalleled, he told me the secret to success was hard work. After entering practice, I saw him speak at events and heard war stories from some of his partners. He said the typical case had 50 important documents.  In the courtroom, it is typically 5-10.  I can promise you that a trial lawyer that thinks they have 1,000 key documents and a coach with a game-plan containing 1,000 plays and/or formations is preparing for an impending disaster. Preparing to win is hard work. Those who work hard and work smarter are travelling the road of continued success.

At cicayda, we strongly believe that the modern litigator must combine his individual skill, domain knowledge and impressive work ethic with the right process and technology to effectively represent his or her clients.  Our team with over 150 years of litigation and electronic discovery experience is here to assist you in preparing effective processes and workflows so that e-discovery can be handled better, faster and more affordably.  

We empower intelligent lawyering. Our technology is Natural Language Processing based, built for the web and “Big Data.”  Importantly, our proprietary technology reads every document just as you would if you had the time and resources, sorts them, and makes connections between the documents that cannot be obtained by traditional search methods or other technology assisted review methods currently being offered in legal.  The lawyer is still the most important piece of the puzzle but you are now enabled to take your impressive skills to the next level, brush the fear of the unknown aside, and unlock the key information upon which the case hinges.

We will not promise an end to sleepless nights but we do think we can enhance your ability to do what you best. Prepare, win, wake-up and repeat.


By Guest Blogger: cicayda