Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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“Predictive Coding” is a trend worth noting.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | June 11, 2012

No. 849

Electronic discovery is so expensive that it has heretofore been confined to cases involving high stakes.  However, a variety of technologies have emerged that sometimes enable searchers to cull out a vast number of documents.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on a Virginia federal case in which the court  authorized the use of Predictive Coding over the objections of the opposing party.  Local e-discovery pioneer Karl Schinneman is the expert witness in this case.

Of course, as a useful technology becomes cheaper, its use becomes more widespread. It is not yet clear whether electronic discovery will become the norm in lower dollar cases.  Pointing in that direction is the common observation that many small businesses do the overwhelming portion of their communication with customers, suppliers and others by email.  In a small case, the dilemma is twofold. A smaller sample of documents is involved which must be pulled efficiently from an ever-growing population. But the only way to be sure that a document is responsive to the discovery request is to read it.

There is another dimension to electronic documents.  They can be studied for their metadata.  That means that edits in prior drafts may reveal something that the author didn’t want to communicate.  Or it may reveal information about other matters.  This is why there is ethical concern over lawyers providing documents written in Word or other searchable media formats.  Lawyers often use old documents as templates, enabling a recipient to read confidential information.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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