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Technology’s Effects on Law Firms and Legal Practice

Firm attorney R. Christopher Dix describes how changes in technology are affecting law firms and the practice of law.

Below is a link to a 1956 movie produced by IBM, which describes the world’s first hard drive — RAMAC.

RAMAC could hold approximately 5 megabytes of information, which is roughly equivalent to just one MP3 music file.  By today’s standards, the amount of data that RAMAC holds is relatively small.  The manner in which RAMAC permitted a person “to keep business accounts up to date and make them available, not monthly or even daily, but immediately,” however, was revolutionary.  At the time of RAMAC’s invention, most companies maintained paper business records, which required extensive human efforts to update, maintain and search.  Fast forward to today, almost all corporate records are created and maintained electronically.  Hard drives — now much smaller than RAMAC — are integrated into our daily lives in smartphones, computers and automobiles, just to name a few examples.

Just like IBM’s RAMAC in the 1950’s, technology continues to change the way that companies — including law firms — do business.  One emerging technology that is revolutionizing the practice of law is called computer-assisted review (“CAR”).  CAR generally refers to the process by which attorneys use computer programs to analyze electronic evidence in a case.  Attorneys increasingly use CAR to analyze large volumes of electronically stored information (gigabytes and even terabytes) to determine which individual documents are relevant, privileged, or even a “smoking gun”– all without an attorney actually reviewing each and every record.  CAR allows attorneys to then review smaller volumes of documents that are more likely to be relevant to their case, thus reducing attorney time and attorney’s fees.

Beginning with Da Silva Moore v. Publicis Groupe SA, 287 F.R.D. 182, 193 (S.D.N.Y. 2012), courts have recognized the benefits of CAR and approved the use of CAR during discovery in pending litigation.

What the Bar should take away from this Opinion is that computer-assisted review is an available tool and should be seriously considered for use in large-data-volume cases where it may save the producing party (or both parties) significant amounts of legal fees in document review. Counsel no longer have to worry about being the “first” or “guinea pig” for judicial acceptance of computer-assisted review.

Our firm uses a variety of tools and technologies to facilitate document review and perform other document production tasks more quickly, efficiently and less expensively.  CAR is just one example of legal technology that reduces the cost of providing high-caliber legal advice to our clients.

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