The use of predictive coding in ediscovery document review is increasingly popular, but how long before the algorithm overtakes the human? Mark Schroeder analyzes whether the technology is best friend or job thief for lawyers

Predictive Coding, also known as algorithm-assisted “text categorization”, refers to the use of a software program to identify documents that are relevant or responsive to a particular case or issue, based on a review of test documents (or a population of seed sets, validation sets, or training sets) by lawyers and subject matter experts. The computer-assisted methodology involves a machine learning process and a combination of different algorithmic tools.

This method of assisting counsel in searching, culling and categorizing documents is considered one of the most important developments in the eDiscovery industry. In fact, it is so significant that some insiders believe the technology will eventually replace the jobs of lawyers executing document review.

While using algorithms can in many situations find the proverbial needle in a haystack much more efficiently, it is the author’s position that the methodology will continue to be more of a super-charged assistant to, rather than a replacement for, the lawyer review team.

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