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Data Visualization Accelerates eDiscovery: Picture This

By Tal Davidson

Electronically stored information (ESI) volumes are expanding at an unprecedented rate, presenting intricate challenges for legal teams during litigation, investigations and other legal processes. In this era, the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” gains significant traction as legal professionals grapple with terabytes of ESI. Data visualization emerges as a pivotal tool in this scenario, transforming complex datasets into understandable and actionable information.

data visualization

Visualization works from a human perspective because we respond to and process visual data better than any other type of data. In fact, the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. That fact suggests that data visualization is an effective way to enhance attorney insights and decision-making in eDiscovery.

What Is Data Visualization?

Data visualization is the practice of creating visual representations of complex data and information. These representations can be static, dynamic, or interactive and are intended to help people understand, interpret, and discover patterns, trends, and relationships in the data. 

Data visualization tools offer an intuitive method for observing and comprehending trends, outliers and patterns within data by utilizing visual elements such as charts, graphs, and maps. In the context of eDiscovery, these tools are invaluable. The legal team identifies the necessity for data visualization to dissect complex data facets, while data analysts or visualization experts use platforms like Power BI, Tableau, and advanced Excel to craft these visual representations.

Since organizations are not standardizing on a single tool, in eDiscovery, legal teams must piece together conversations that flow across multiple channels and create different types of data. Visualization tools can ease the challenge by recognizing communication and subject matter trends spanning various platforms such as Teams, Slack, email, Twitter and documents.

Visualization Methods and the Discovery Process

Frequently used visualizations in discovery include:

  • Concept clusters, which allow attorneys to discern themes in voluminous data.
  • Conversation patterns, which expose the communication networks hidden within the data.
  • Timeline analysis, which helps in understanding the sequence of events and their temporal relationships.

These visualization methods empower attorneys to swiftly comprehend complex data, thereby facilitating more informed decision-making. Visualization accelerates the discovery process in three key phases.

1. Scoping the Matter

Visualization in eDiscovery provides extensive benefits beyond simple data representation. It enables legal teams to effectively manage and navigate their workload, utilizing charts, graphs, and maps to segment large datasets by topics, languages, or other relevant dimensions, fostering a focused and efficient review process. This segmentation helps in prioritizing tasks and understanding case complexities.

In the visualizations below, for example, AI tools were used to identify private information within documents in an eDiscovery dataset. The visualizations offer attorneys insights into the volume and type of Personal Identifiable Information (PII) that may need to be redacted or identified as privileged.

AI tools were used to identify private information within documents in an eDiscovery dataset.

2. Delivering Case Insights

Early case assessment benefits significantly from visualization guiding initial analyses and resource allocation, thus shaping the investigation’s direction. Visualization tools reveal hidden communication patterns and unknown entities, broadening the custodian scope and refining the discovery process. This aspect is vital in financial cases, where it maps relationships between accounts and entities, exposing potential fraud.

3. Monitoring Quality and Accuracy

In quality control, visualization is key to validating coding decisions, maintaining review process integrity and consistency. It helps legal teams identify data discrepancies, leading to more accurate and dependable outcomes. In court, visualization’s strength is clear, converting complex data into lucid, compelling stories that resonate with judges and jurors, thereby bolstering the legal argument.

Visualization in eDiscovery is not merely about simplifying data presentation but enhancing the entire legal process. It’s an essential tool for modern legal teams, driving efficiency, accuracy, and success in the dynamic legal proceedings landscape.

The landscape of data visualization in eDiscovery is evolving rapidly, driven by the burgeoning volume and complexity of data. The transition from static charts to dynamic, interactive visualizations allows legal teams to delve deeper into their data, uncovering insights that were previously inaccessible. The increasing integration of AI and machine learning technologies in data visualization tools is a game-changer, offering advanced analytics capabilities like predictive modeling and sentiment analysis.

The future of eDiscovery will likely witness the introduction of new data types and visualization methods. For example, as legal professionals encounter more complex ESI forms, including multimedia and social media content, they’ll need innovative visualization tools capable of handling such diversity. Furthermore, the integration of AI tools can revolutionize how legal teams interact with data, enabling them to navigate vast datasets efficiently and derive nuanced insights with unprecedented precision.

Image © iStockPhoto.com.

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Tal Davidson

Tal Davidson is the product manager of data analytics and visualization at ProSearch. With a robust background in advanced Excel, Power BI, Tableau and SQL, Tal’s expertise is pivotal in helping legal teams and law firms gain profound insights into their cases and business strategies.

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