• July 13, 2016

Hal9000Check out the linked “Protocol Regarding Computer Assisted Review” (“CAR,” or “HAL”) from the multi-district litigation concerned “Bair [sic] Hugger Forced Air Warming Products,” currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota before U.S. District Court Judge Joan N. Ericksen.

Technical experts could explain this “protocol” and its underlying methodology far better than I but, in principle, the plan is to have “trained computers” run searches of some subset of the opposing parties’ computer data, seeking and identifying documents “relevant” to a case.

I imagine “training” computers to locate something like, “documents regarding research and development of the Dicey Widget, from Date1 to Date2, that would have been accessible (that is, received by, sent by, created by, or stored by) R&D Executive #s 1-5….”

If you’re interested in the use of this kind of cutting edge technology in large litigation, read the linked protocol.

As hands-off as the process sounds, there is, at least at the outset, a continuing need for human involvement.  In order to train HAL:


Each party will designate two subject-matter experts. These designated persons will work together at the same time, in the same room, to determine which documents are either responsive or non-responsive. These designated persons are not allowed any form of phone, computer, tablet, and paper or information recording device. What is seen in the room, stays in the room….If a document, at first glance, is determined to be privileged, the experts from the opposing party, if they are in the room, are to look away, while the privilege content is assessed solely by the producing party…

“CAR is an iterative process,” the Court’s order pointed out. It is also brand new (to me, at least).

Asked for comment, Ben Legatt of Shepherd Data responded to this post:

The CAR protocol is something we do all the time now, and we’ve been doing it for a few years. As an example, we’re working on a case right now where our client finished a production review of about 500,000 documents in less than 4 days, using CAR. Only 4 reviewers were needed for the review.

CAR will improve — at exponentially increasing speed. And, I predict, it will vaporize thousands of lawyers’ billable hours, to the thunderous applause of consumers of civil litigation services. Their celebration will drown out the quiet groans of some flesh and blood lawyers in our evolving legal profession.

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