What Is Predictive Coding?

Published on: September 23rd, 2019

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There is a lot of interest in Predictive coding alternately known as either Computer assisted review or Technology assisted review.  There is good reason for the interest as it promises to revolutionize the task of reviewing documents.  For some it is viewed as the greatest mouse trap ever built.  It will lead to more productive hours spent by lawyers and law firm personnel, lower costs overall for the litigation process.  In an age where the volume to be reviewed has grown beyond the ability for reviewers to keep up with seemingly agreeable deadlines, Predictive coding looms as the holy grail of discovery process to free everyone from the shackles of plodding and plowing through mountains of data.  If it were only so simple.

Predictive coding is a subset of an overall process based on data analytics.  This same process is used in Search Engine Optimization(SEO) by taking varying data points and using mathematical models to develop and forecast trends such as how many visitors of particular website are within an certain age group or gender group and the likelihood they would be interested in a complementary web site to the one they visited.  This same technology is applied to predicting documents of a certain type or with similar content are likely very similar and can be categorized with generic or specific flag such as hot document.  There are many players in this arena and many ways to accomplish this process but what is important to note is generally speaking the precision of the process is pretty good to great when compared to human reviewers.  And therein lies the trap!  The false notion that predictive coding or analytics by itself will solve all and make the legal world a better place.  The reality is while there are some very good arguments for the use of analytics, the process still requires an expert to make it work well.  In fact several experts. An expert in the case, an expert on the document collection, and an expert on the technology.  These can all be one person but usually are several people.  In addition, a human reviewer is still needed to validate what the technology/process presents.

There are several recent cases where predictive coding is on prominent display.  There are also some articles on the use of predictive coding.  Please read with care and knowledge that if it seems too good to be true it likely is.  Any process that offers to bulk tag large swaths of documents without any human intervention should be questioned and challenged.  Any service provider who truly knows or is aware of what computer aided review can do for the review process will design a process as we at Sitelogic Technologies would that includes the intelligent application of technology governed by the intuitive nature of the human expert.

Predictive Coding

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