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Document Review: Lawyers v. Machines

A new National Law Journal (4/19/07) article profiles the Cisco law department and general counsel Marc Chandler. The article reiterates many interesting legal technology applications at Cisco. I was most struck by Chandler’s comment on document review in e-discovery. 

Using Technology to Cut Legal Costs quotes Chandler:

“The discovery process in litigation can be very, very expensive. We have built electronic tools that mine all the documents that exist in the company, collect them and eliminate the stuff that is not responsive. Most outside counsel embrace that. Some still prefer to do everything by hand, using armies of associates. We have not seen quality differences between those two models, but there is a giant cost difference.”

I’ve written previously that the choosing the best document review approach – US contract lawyers, offshore lawyers, or software – is an empirical question. Chandler adds anecdotal evidence that computers do better than humans, at least considering cost.

The rest of the article is well worth reading to learn more about other Cisco legal department innovations.