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Numerous studies confirm that people process information better from a visual context. That is why lawyers use illustrative exhibits in the courtroom — people comprehend more easily when they are shown something rather than having it described to them.
There is no reason this visual theorem can’t apply to other stages of a litigation matter. Most document reviews live in a monotonous, flat, linear database; but InterLegis’ Discovery360, along with its DataMapper module, utilizes innovative visual overlays to expose relationships among documents that are difficult, if not impossible, to see when staring at rows and columns.
Traditional review databases serve their fair purpose, but do a horrible job of showing you how people communicate through e-mail and other documents. Any review database can show you a list of e-mails from a specific author, and then extrapolate the associated list of recipients. But wouldn’t it be much more helpful if you could visually see lines connecting the author to each recipient? You immediately would get a sense of the variety of e-mail recipients, and thicker lines would indicate more messages were passed back and forth. Limiting the e-mail communication to a specific date range would help even more to zero in on noteworthy conversations.
That’s just one example of the power you can find inside the InterLegis Discovery360 platform.
I specifically have been discussing document review, but what if you could apply this visual scrutiny to electronic data before you review, or even process, it? The Discovery360 platform certainly encompasses a review component, but the DataMapper module is designed as a preprocessing, prereview culling tool that gives you precise control over what data should be processed and uploaded to your review platform.
When you start requesting documents from your client, you are likely to receive a motley collection of hard drives, CDs, DVDs, backup tapes and other miscellaneous media. Often, that media is forwarded along to a vendor tasked with extracting, filtering and processing the data and documents according to your directives. This usually means it funnels all the data through a keyword list that you supply.
The DataMapper module puts direct control of all this filtering and processing back into your hands, since no one knows what you are looking for better than you do. Instead of brainstorming a list of keywords for a vendor to chunk at your documents, you can have InterLegis load everything into its DataMapper module and test run your own keywords. There is no charge for this initial load into DataMapper — InterLegis only charges you for the data that you export out of the DataMapper module to be loaded into its Review tool.
With DataMapper, you are not limited to a one-time funnel of your documents through a keyword list or date range filter; you can try out all kinds of “what-if” scenarios, keywords and date ranges. You can see how many documents are responsive to certain concepts or keywords, and you can do all of this even before you start reviewing the documents.
You can’t actually view individual documents in DataMapper — that function is reserved for the Discovery360 Review tool. This will be frustrating for folks who are anxious to dig into juicy details, but DataMapper is specifically meant to be a preprocessing inspection tool that lets you see what you have before you pay for exporting data to a review database.
The DataMapper module installed on your desktop is really just a Java interface that communicates directly with the InterLegis servers, which means you don’t host the data yourself. You send all your media and data to InterLegis, which will extract and index every digital morsel of metadata, text and related information about every file. It even will populate a workable list of concepts discovered while analyzing the data. InterLegis boldly asserts that each document has its own unique “personality” based on all its individual traits.
Once you launch DataMapper and select your case, you immediately can start drilling down into your data, which can be partitioned out by each custodian’s personal folder file in Microsoft Outlook, your hard drive, etc.
To get started, click the green “360” button in the upper left-hand corner to filter your data by attributes such as custodians, document type, author, recipient, cc, bcc, keywords and document size. After you have chosen your filtering preferences, DataMapper gives you a flat table listing the attributes of your data subset, along with the total number of documents and an estimate of their pages. A drop-down box lets you drill down into specific attributes of your data subset such as “Document Types-Applications,” which gives you a simple pie chart that shows you the breakdown of each file type found in your subset. While you can analyze a lot of helpful information from this table, the graphic fireworks have only just begun. The “Visual Analytics” button illustrates your data subset in five ways: Data Burst, Cluster, Relationships, Correspondence and Timeline.
The “Data Burst” looks like a colored wheel with spokes. Closer examination reveals individual sections of documents grouped by attributes such as applications, file extensions, concept folders, etc. Hovering your mouse over any section shows you the number of documents in that group to give you a quick snapshot of the types of data with which you are dealing. You can modify the Data Burst at any time to specifically show just the data attributes you want to see.
The “Cluster” resembles a Petri dish containing an organic breakdown of your data. It consists of many circles labeled by the attributes that you choose to view. Bigger circles encompass more documents; smaller circles encompass fewer documents. Each circle “clusters” documents together that are related by their attributes.
The “Relationships” and “Correspondence” tools are simple in theory, but they reveal the true potential behind DataMapper. Both tools dissect your document collection down to dots and lines that show connections among the data.
In the Relationships tab, for example, you can elect to see the relationships between a single custodian and all the concepts discovered in your set of documents. Or, you can select a single custodian and map the relationships to different file types found in that custodian’s data set — thicker lines in the map indicate the existence of more documents or files.
I found the Correspondence tool very helpful in exploring communications between authors and recipients — I could select a single author who was important to the case and visually see communication activity among all the recipients. It’s important to note that the Correspondence tool showed me all files that were considered to be sent from the author to the recipient, whether it was a letter attached to an e-mail, a spreadsheet or an instant message. Fortunately, InterLegis includes the option of modifying the visual to only show e-mail messages.
Regardless of the visual tool you currently might be viewing, there always is a very helpful “Timeline” at the bottom of the screen. The timeline resembles a bar graph with dates underneath. A higher bar indicates that a lot of communication was happening on that date, which visually could reveal a time when something was going on.
Whenever you feel that you have sifted your data down to exactly what you need for review purposes, you can click the “Export” button. A small form pops up, allowing you to specify the name of your export and dictate special instructions to InterLegis for the actual export, such as deduplicating the data set you have selected and having custom tags applied to the data. For example, if the particular set of documents you have filtered out is privileged because the documents were e-mails sent to legal counsel, you can tell InterLegis to export the documents, but proactively apply a privileged tag to each document.
Those exports are processed by InterLegis and then loaded into its Review tool, which looks very similar to the DataMapper module, but adds functionality such as review folders.
The one improvement I would suggest to InterLegis is to beef up its help files and support documentation. That’s not to say that the company doesn’t help their clients. In fact, I never had to wait more than a few minutes for a return call or e-mail response to my questions. The company constantly is giving training sessions and Web demos but I would like to see InterLegis develop some detailed documentation on its products so that I don’t always have to schedule a phone call when I need help. The company states it’s actively working on this.
InterLegis is about 10 years old and has made some significant achievements in the e-discovery world. Not too many other tools in the industry can boast visual features like those built into Discovery360 and, earlier this year, InterLegis even announced a Mac version of its software — something that truly is unheard of in the legal software market. I am anxious for InterLegis to stick around for another 10 years because it obviously will be on the cutting edge of providing software to help us better process and review electronic discovery.
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