Big Data Event Draws Diverse Group

Mark Jackson, Noel Edlin, Erin Poppler, and Dean Costales
Mark Jackson, Noel Edlin, Erin Poppler, and Dean Costales

Strong attendance at a recent event hosted by Bassi Edlin Huie & Blum indicates a growing curiosity amongst attorneys, risk managers, and legal support staff about the subject of Big Data and how to analyze it within the context of e-discovery and environmental litigation. BEHB attorneys Noel Edlin, Mark Jackson, and Erin Poppler, along with Dean Costales of TrialGraphix, gave a lively presentation with many tangible examples of how Big Data is quickly creeping into every corner of our lives.

Managing Partner Noel Edlin posited that in order to effectively deal with Big Data - data sets of 1 terabyte or more - legal teams need new strategies that go beyond traditional search functionality and do more than business intelligence tools that work with standard databases. One compelling solution comes from the emerging field of predictive coding, a process by which electronically stored information (ESI) is coded, organized, and prioritized according to a series of rules carefully designated by an e-discovery team.

Dean Costales suggested that e-discovery teams find predictive coding appealing because it can potentially reduce the review time for large document sets by 85 % to 95% when used in conjunction with traditional data culling methodologies, which is quite useful when reviewing large troves of documents. Predictive coding also works well for handling unstructured data such as photos, videos, email, and other correspondence.

Erin Poppler stated that it makes sense to use predictive coding in environmental litigation because most cases are data-driven with document caches that can be quite large, time spans are extremely long, there are various strict liability laws that attorneys must observe, there are multiple parties, and due to high costs there is a premium placed on early settlement. Poppler also discussed an emerging trend in federal courts of accepting - and even encouraging - the use of predictive coding where its use has been at issue.

Mark Jackson covered what the future might bring as data sets continue to balloon and the e-discovery process becomes increasingly automated. Using the analogy of what happened in the late 20th century when commercial pilots started using more automated flight controls Jackson made his most salient point that litigators need to keep "flying the plane". To be an effective litigator, one must still formulate winning strategies, take great depositions, and write compelling motions.

The Big Data event was held in collaboration between Bassi Edlin Huie & Blum, a complex litigation firm offering a unique combination of large firm experience and small firm agility; UC Hastings College of the Law, the first law school to be established in California; and TrialGraphix, a litigation consulting firm specializing in discovery, jury consulting, and trial presentation technologies. A video of the presentation is available on YouTube.