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By Debora Motyka Jones, Esq.

Published on Wed, March 9, 2011

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For years, legal software companies have been trying to figure out how to help lawyers quickly and efficiently find the needle in the discovery haystack.

First there was concept searching and review, then early data assessment tools and now predictive coding. Despite all of these advances, use of these tools is still not standard practice. It may be that we lawyers do not trust artificial intelligence to find our hot docs. Or, it could be that the courts have not yet accepted reliance on such technology and lawyers are too risk averse to attempt the argument. I would argue, however, that the courts are open to use of such technology and that one can make a winning argument that the use of such technology is warranted.

In order to make a winning argument, you would have to show that your reliance on technology was reasonable. One component of your argument would be that it was prohibitively expensive to approach the data in the traditional way. Not only can you build this argument by referencing your own data (i.e. relying on a quote from vendors for processing and review) but you can also point to public data. For example, a recent NY Times article referenced a case where a corporation spent $2.2 million on 6 million documents in discovery. You can then compare and contrast the traditional method against your technology-driven alternative.

A second component to your argument would be to show that your chosen software produces the desired result. This is where you would have to rely on the software company to provide you with empirical evidence. As an example, you could provide data comparing the accuracy of coding decisions made by predictive coding software versus human reviewers. Ask your vendor to send you such data before you make the decision to use the software. That way, you are prepared to make the argument.

I believe Courts are open to using technology, especially with empirical evidence showing its accuracy. In fact,at least one Judge has shown support for studies investigating the accuracy of ESI software. Victor Stanley,Inc. v. Creative Pipe, Inc., 250 F.R.D. 251, 261 n. 10 (D.Md. 2008) (“[T]here is room for optimism that as search and information retrieval methodologies are studied and tested, this will result in identifying those that are most effective and least expensive to employ for a variety of ESI discovery tasks.”). Just remember that the Judge needs you to educate him or her about the product so you should be sure to know the product yourself or know whom to call for such information!

Note that everything in this blog post is my own commentary and should not, in any way, be construed as legal advice or a guarantee of a specific result.

About the Author
Debora Motyka Jones, Esq.

Vice President

As Vice President, Debora plays an essential role on the company’s executive team by collaborating around new markets, and bringing a customer-centric and pragmatic approach to achieving corporate and customer goals. She is responsible for building out a robust team of legal and technology experts in the eastern US, driving forward partnerships focused on delighting clients, and expanding the company’s brand through thought leadership events and new relationships. Debora’s background as a litigator and buyer, as well as her vast client-facing and operational experience will enable Lighthouse to provide the high-caliber, consultative client experience, the company is known for.

Debora has been with Lighthouse since 2009 and has made a significant impact on the company’s growth and business strategy during her tenure. With a background in litigation from practicing at law firms in both Washington D.C and Washington State, her expertise and deep understanding of complex ediscovery matters enabled her to create a resonating brand and architect the innovative products and services that keep Lighthouse at the forefront of the ediscovery market. She led the execution and implementation of the company’s rebranding in 2012 and developed the marketing department from the ground up. In addition, she has been instrumental in spearheading the company’s strategic technology partnerships, driving the formation of Lighthouse’s product strategy, and the evolution of Lighthouse’s SmartSeries. She also instituted and continues to maintain a client advisory board to ensure strong alignment with market demands. Finally, in 2015, Debora lead the company’s expansion to the eastern seaboard by managing the development the New York office and team, as well as expanding upon the company’s current set of services and clientele.

Prior to joining Lighthouse, Debora was a Complex Commercial Litigation Associate at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP in Washington, D.C. where she worked on matters such as the WorldCom and Enron bankruptcies. Her practice also included multi-million-dollar commercial and securities litigation, and internal investigations. While at Weil, Debora was recognized three times for her dedication to pro bono service. Debora also practiced as a litigation Associate at McNaul Ebel Nawrot & Helgren PLLC. Her practice included commercial, employment, and securities litigation, as well as legal malpractice defense.

Debora received a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Washington where she graduated magna cum laude. She received her law degree from The George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. She is admitted to practice law in New York State, the District of Columbia (inactive membership), and Washington State. Debora is Level II Pragmatic Marketing Certified. Debora is actively involved in the legal community as the former Director of Women in eDiscovery, as a mentor with Mother Attorneys Mentoring Association of Seattle, as an Advisory Board Member for the Organization of Legal Professionals, as the former Chair of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC)'s New to In-House Committee, and as a former board member of the Washington Women Lawyers (WWL). Debora was also recognized for her contribution to the ACC and was named 2012 WWL Board Member of the Year. Debora is a frequent speaker on eDiscovery strategy, a former instructor for the Organization of Legal Professionals, and a regular Lighthouse blog contributor.