Jurisdiction - Hong Kong
Reports and Analysis
Hong Kong – Getting The Picture With Visual Analytic Software.

14 November, 2012

 

Legal News & Analysis – Asia Pacific – Hong Kong – Dispute Resolution

 

Hong Kong’s electronic discovery challenges, like those everywhere, fall under various headings. They derive from litigation, arbitration and other forms of civil dispute, from regulatory investigations and other incursions by government, from criminal allegations and from internal investigations. All have similar demands – of speed, accuracy and cost control. All go through similar stages – the identification and collection of relevant material, the culling of obviously irrelevant data and the removal of privileged documents, and the analysis which both defines the scope of the task and aids the identification of documents and classes of documents that matter.
 
Speed is critical, not only because time equates to cost, but because decisions have to be made quickly about tactics and strategy, and because a company’s negotiating position, whether against civil opponents or an authority, is improved by ensuring that it is on top of the material. Getting the picture with visual analytic software Data volumes go up, budgets go down and the consequences of non-compliance become more severe. Lawyers facing these problems are helped by two developments in the legal services market. One lies in improvements in software; the other is the growth of third party services designed to complement and support the lawyers’ task. Between them, they offer two variants of the notion of transparency: data becomes transparent as eDiscovery software becomes increasingly visual, allowing lawyers to quickly see what the documents are about; and transparency also also to the way these third-party services predict their costs.
 
 

 
Visual Analytical Software
 
FTI Consulting is an example of a company offering this combination of software and services. The latest version of its flagship eDiscovery software, Ringtail 8, combines an intuitive review application with the company’s Document Mapper visualisation software, and other visual analytical tools – conceptual visual analysis is integrated direct into the workflow and the user can quickly switch between a conventional list view and Document  Mapper’s graphical representation of the same data.
 
 
 
These tools group similar documents together and allow easy exploration of the conceptual relationships between groups of related documents. Instead of bare lists, clusters of documents with common characteristics are visible, with the ability to drill down to smaller groups and to the documents themselves. Keywords still have a role in narrowing down data sets, but they will inevitably return only exact matches. Because conceptual analytical tools group related documents together, with coloured highlights to show relationships between like documents, the same reviewer will see all the similar documents in one place, whatever their source or document type. 
 
The Inadequacy of Keywords
 
A keyword will find every instance of a project name; conceptual analytics will help identify the project even where it is not expressly named, referred to perhaps as “our work” or “the job”. People may have nicknames and places are not always referred to by their street address. The ability of conceptual tools to identify things whatever they are called, and to display them graphically, increases speed, accuracy and consistency.
 
The graphical tools are immensely helpful also in showing links and relationships between people. Lines of varying thickness and colour show the volume of traffic passing between custodians, and can help identify key players – perhaps including individuals whose involvement was unsuspected.
 
At a simple level, the eye is drawn to clusters which meet certain criteria, making it easy and quick to spot them. This has uses far beyond merely identifying the contents of a data set. You might, for example, use this for cross-checking the results of a different search, where documents stand out because they have been wrongly included (or omitted) by a keyword search.
 
It pays to understand region-specific characteristics
 
Chinese, Japanese and Korean – often collectively referred to as CJK – raise specific issues. The alleged standard for managing languages other than English, known as “Unicode”, is not in fact able to support all the data found in the region and this can lead to garbled characters in display. 
 
Beyond that, even if a tool can display CJK, that does not mean it can search it accurately. Simply put, keyword searches need an index to query. Most tools create the case index by looking for spaces between words. However, there are no spaces between words in CJK languages. This leads to character-based pattern matching, which is inaccurate at best.
 
Rather than keywords, Document Mapper is looking for concepts. Ideographic languages, Chinese and Japanese in particular, lend themselves well to this kind of search. Document Mapper conducts language identification in order to extract and analyse valid concepts, and this provides an approach to understanding a case that accounts both for the inadequacy of simple keywords, and the complexity of languages in the region.
 
The successful use of analytical tools
 
In a recent Hong Kong case, external counsel needed to review for privilege. FTI Consulting had a keyword list of privilege terms, including law firm names. The results of running these terms was put into Document Mapper, which produced a list of concepts in those documents. Several of these concepts were project names, and further querying on those produced project documents. In less than an afternoon, Counsel went from having a rough idea who their client had been talking to, to knowing exactly what they had been talking to them about, and when.
 
Summary
 
The visual and conceptual tools described here are vital weapons in the battle to identify the documents which matter and to do so quickly, cheaply and accurately. Their use depends on knowing not only how they work, but also knowing the issues in the case and the client’s objectives, and on having processes which bring the right mix of skills together, which are legal, linguistic, and technical.
 
 
By Chris Dale and Richard Kershaw.
 
Richard Kershaw is a managing director in the Technology practice of FTI Consulting, a global advisory firm dedicated to helping organisations protect and enhance enterprise value. He is based in Hong Kong. 
 
Chris Dale is from the UK-based eDisclosure Information Project (http://www.chrisdalelawyersupport.co.uk/)

 

 

 

 

 

 

For further information, please contact:

 
Richard Kershaw, Managing Director, FTI Consulting
richard.kershaw@fticonsulting.com

  

 

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