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Automating Analytics: 3 Pieces of Advice for In-House Legal Teams

Maks Babuder

Editor’s Note: Structured analytics automation will be available for all RelativityOne customers by February 15, 2021.

“Remember that time is money.”

This rings as true today as it did when Benjamin Franklin penned his 1748 essay, “Advice to a Young Tradesman.” In it, he spoke of opportunity cost. Put simply, if you spend your time on a particular activity, you can’t spend that time toward another, possibly more productive, activity. Thus, there is a real cost behind missed opportunities to try something new and better than what you’re already doing.

Unfortunately, for many in-house legal departments, opportunity cost can’t always have a say in process prioritization. Often, those choices are made based on what simply must be done—and the manual nature of many required workflows can feel like a lost cause. Setting up an e-discovery workspace is no exception.

But for 2021, we’ve got some advice to those in-house legal departments: Reclaim some of your opportunity cost with automation.

Lately, in-house legal teams must do more with less, without sacrificing quality. To do more, you either need more headcount—often not an option—or you need more production from the team you already have. Without automation, that can be a quick path to burnout. But with it, the possibilities are endless.

There are a multitude of e-discovery tasks that are both routine and predictable, fitting easily into this category of processes that slow your team’s velocity. Automation means you can eliminate the need to focus on rote tasks and give your team more time for higher value work.  

#1: Automation isn’t about adopting the unknown.

Contrary to what many might think, automation in a legal technology context doesn’t mean adopting tools that will eliminate the need for attorneys and legal staff (we’re quite far away from that reality).

Today’s technology won’t develop an entire case strategy or advise clients directly, no human interpretation required. Instead, automation can simply mean expediting—and even eliminating—some of those repetitive tasks that must be done every day and without much thought.

Think of automation technology as a force multiplier for your in-house legal team. It means streamlining workflows, reducing clicks, and getting time in your day back—time when you can focus on actual legal work, including tasks like interviewing custodians, curating case strategies, and, ultimately, becoming a productive business partner for your organization.

Take a poll of any Relativity admin and they’ll tell you that they love the unparalleled ability to customize their Relativity workspaces to fit their organization’s needs. With customization, though, comes additional effort—and time. That’s why automation is so important. Currently, users can automate the creation of search term reports and dtSearch index builds.

But next up: Say hello to automated analytics.

#2: Automated analytics are a boon for speed and accuracy.

The promise of legal analytics sounds exciting, but the tech isn’t always accessible for many legal departments. In fact, just one in five legal departments have access to a data analyst—and that number is only predicted to increase to one in three by 2023. We want to expedite that access with Relativity Analytics.

A quick refresher: “Data analytics” means different things to different people, but in the context of legal work, these tools allow teams to digest, cull, categorize, and review volumes of data efficiently.  

This tech includes structured analytics like email threading, conceptual analytics like cluster visualization, and active learning for prioritized review. Using these features, an e-discovery platform can analyze the text and metadata of documents in order to quickly and accurately categorize and organize your data.

At Relativity, we believe every workspace should utilize email threading, near-duplicate identification, and name normalization. Regardless of the size of the workspace, these operations will reduce and organize data for search and review by organizing conversations, minimizing duplicative work, and identifying custodians consistently across your data set.

In fact, for many teams, email threading and textual near-duplicate identification are necessities in every case. Email threading can reduce data volumes by between 25 and 50 percent. And the configuration of these operations is often identical from one case to the next, making them a no-brainer to weave into standard operating procedures: You’ll always thread your emails, you’ll always want to identify textually similar email attachments, and you’ll rarely find a case where looking at all the communications between specific actors doesn’t require some domain searching, username interpreting, or name normalization.

Historically, these analytics were super powerful but also somewhat manual to implement—and setting up each workspace comes with some error-prone, time-intensive tasks. So we decided to automate it.

In a world where remote and distributed teams are often the norm, automation offers the opportunity to realize greater workflow consistency and less errors across various geographies and teams.

#3: Now is the time to get started.

Gone are the days of kicking off analytics sets one by one, clicking the same button over and over, and constantly checking in on progress. By leveraging the power of RelativityOne’s Automated Workflows alongside analytics, teams can automate much of their case setup.

Now, once documents enter a workspace, analytics will automatically run and you’ll be notified via email upon completion. Simply create a structured analytics set (e.g., email threading), add it to an automated workflow, and voilà: you’re automating analytics.

This month, automated analytics will be built into our out-of-the-box Relativity workspace templates, covering email threading, textual near-duplicate identification, language identification, repeated content identification, and name normalization. These automations will also include the creation of optimized document list views and email thread visualizations.

The templates are designed to help ensure that teams like yours rarely need to manually run and manage analytics operations ever again.

In a world where legal teams must do more than ever before, with less help than ever, automations democratize best practices.

But wait, what about customization?

We know. Every case is unique. All organizations have their own quirks. No two sets of data are the same. Anyone who has dug deeply into Relativity knows that part of the power of the platform is the ability to customize it as users see fit—automations included.

So you’ll also be able to create your own automations based on the needs of your team, with the option of stringing multiple operations to kick off one after another or fine-tuning the process based on your unique requirements. For instance, if you want to exclude specific text while running email threading to get cleaner results, you can still do it with automated analytics. Same goes for deciding which languages to identify or which percentage of similarity between near-duplicates you want to be identified.

This is only the beginning. Automated (and customizable) analytics capabilities will roll out in phases, with structured analytics operations like these going live in February 2021. The next phase will include the automation of new conceptual indexes and classification indexes—giving users the power to easily find similar documents, run keyword expansion, and kick off active learning projects.

Remember that time is money. And by automating analytics, you can get a little bit of that time back.

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Maks Babuder is a product manager at Relativity, where he helps guide the development of Relativity Analytics.