The Data Explosion

Lawyers charge a lot for discovery and aren’t even very good at it. That spells opportunity for H5

These days an executive’s career–or a multibillion-dollar judgment–can turn on a single e-mail. One example was the one sent by an American Home Products executive who complained about spending his “waning years signing checks to fat people who are a little afraid of some silly lung problem” and blew open the case on the diet drug fen-phen. There were also the e-mails that outed Harry Stonecipher, who was brought back to clean up Boeing (nyse: BAnews people )’s business scandals and was instead snared in his own romantic uproar.

Corporations are evidence machines, generating terabytes of electronic documents, e-mails and digitally recorded phone calls each year. Lawyers try to sift through all this dross in search of the smoking gun that can determine the outcome of a case. But, so say studies by library scientists and others, the lawyers aren’t very good at sifting. Worn down by the anesthetizing process of flipping through thousands of digital images a day, they miss as much as they find. That’s where a San Francisco company, H5, comes in. “Our work is to discover the ideal narrative to walk into court with,” says Nicolas Economou, 42. “We give you the bullets designed to win.”

For more see Forbes.com.

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One Response

  1. The provocative headline, however, merely dissolves into an article that reads like a press release for H5, and uses examples that are in reality no more than straw men. The comparison of their automated search techniques with “eyes on” review done by a legion of attorneys is not considered a true measure for any searching and filtering technology. Or at least, it shouldn’t be. Comparisons these days should be about different technologies. This is difficult, because few software companies in the industry are secure enough to allow an objective party to compare applications and publicize benchmarks. But I already know any automated methodologies is better, faster, and more efficient than a thousand contract attorneys manually reviewing every document.

    Now, this doesn’t mean that I’m happy with the state of technology in the industry. Far from it. Maybe H5 has a great solution. I’m not familiar with it. I agree, as well, that attorneys aren’t good at using methodologies developed and (far the most part) used by database gurus, records managers, and librarian scientists. As we’ve posted before, electronical discovery brings the need to access knowledge from across several disciplines. Attorneys often drive the process, and for good reason. For a large or complex project to be successful, however, those attorneys trying to manage the project need to know when to rely on someone else.

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