Category Archives: Back to Basics

Cost to Redact 10,000 Docs?

Assume you have 10,000 documents that average 6 pages each. Let us also pretend that we have an attorney on hand that can redact one page every every three minutes. Let’s also say this attorney charges $55 an hour for her services, and an identical attorney will be double checking each redaction for accuracy at a pace of 200 pages per hour.

If every page required redaction and all the variables held true across the entire life of the project, the total out of pocket expense for redacting 60,000 pages would run just over $180,000.

The key to cutting costs is to increase the pace of applying each redaction, increasing the accuracy to reduce time spent performing quality control checks, and reducing the cost of the hourly rate. To get a sense of what attorney rates are for 2017 check out the Salary Guide published yearly by Parker + Lynch at

Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet that exists in the tech industry that will automatically do all the work for us. There are some great tools available that assist with identifying and redacting specific text strings and patterns, but at the end of the day, this is still a manual process that is often very precise in nature.

When dealing with large volumes of information that require redaction the most cost-effective and accurate solutions available will be found from service providers that can blend the best technology available with the right group of experienced attorneys. To see how one provider addressed some of these challenges check out the recently released case study found at

You Can Teach an Old Lawyer New Tricks

BP-Busienss-Man-Photo“Just print it out for me.”

Famous last words said by many an attorney in today’s technology-laden litigation field. There was a time, (cue nostalgic flashback music), when the largest matters would consist of a few hundred boxes of paper. Today, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the amount of records that can exist in a single case.

When the information age started spilling over into the legal profession, there were few, if any, technical solutions to the technology problem we were all facing. When a client inbox needed to be collected and reviewed for discovery, we did just that: “print it all out.” It did not take long before the very same approach would just about fill the Grand Canyon with dead trees.

As the amount of information being created by our business clients continued to grow, the technology designed to combat the problem got better and faster. Innovation came fast and hard over the next few years, resulting in the birth of eDiscovery.

Today, we find ourselves firmly in the adolescence of industry growth, with more specialists, uniform standards and best practices. The software solutions continue to advance at a trailblazing pace and, at times, even claim to be smarter than we humans. However, keeping up with this technology can be (and often is), a job in and of itself.

So, how are those tasked with supporting the efforts inside of a law firm supposed to keep pace? More importantly, assuming you can keep pace, how do you fight the “just print it out” mentality that exists in virtually all firms across the land? A recent study [1]was conducted that concluded that there is “a profound lack of technological savvy among law firms.” [2]

The most impressive advancements over the last couple of years have surrounded buzzwords like predictive coding and advanced analytics. In a nutshell, these are specialized software tools designed to speed up the pace of review to eliminate as much hourly billable labor as possible during the discovery process. One major caveat is, that if leveraged improperly, one can find herself in a pretty hairy situation. Thus, giving credence to the statement that technology is only as good as those using it [3]. This is no real secret and has played into the trepidation within law firms to hurry up and wait to see how other firms have implemented these new solutions.

The mission of this article is to provide an oversimplified how-to primer on leveraging one (of many), advanced analytical tools as a quality control measure prior to final document production, as opposed to an alternative review methodology. In other words, there’s no need to change the way that you’re currently managing and reviewing discovery documents. This will show you (and your reluctant attorney), how to dip your toe into the shallow end of the fancy whiz-bang tech world by taking the advanced out of advanced analytics.

Let’s assume that your firm has been engaged by your client to represent them in a bet the company type litigation that involves the collection, hosting, and review of a quarter-million documents. For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume all of the documents in question are emails (and their attachments), from 10 key players within the company over a time frame of five years. Your firm has already gone through the process of:

  • selecting a vendor to assist with collecting the email data in a forensically sound manner;
  • converting the records into a easily reviewable format;
  • culling them down using basic filters; and
  • hosting them in a web-based review platform that your attorneys can access from anywhere.

At this stage, the common practice is to have a war-room of contract attorneys conduct the first-pass review of these records for responsiveness and to identify any potentially privileged documents. Typically, after varied levels of quality assurance checks, what results is then produced to opposing counsel. This is a tried and true approach that has become its own industry since the economic downturn a few years ago.

photo.JPG  2448×3264The courts, unfortunately, have given very little leeway in terms of providing realistic deadlines for production, even though the amount of data keeps growing at a break-back pace. Some courts have even started imposing sanctions for consistently missing production deadlines. [4] As a result, the directive handed down in these scenarios is always that of speed. Review more documents in less time. In turn, being that we’re all human, this has led to a number of errors. The worst among them is producing a privileged document because it was improperly tagged. This can have some serious ramifications, because it is not just the document that is privileged, but also the entirety of its content. There are countless horror stories and case studies specifically dealing with the aftermath of this particular scenario. However, for the purposes of this example, we’ll take a look at one way to prevent this from happening by utilizing “Email Thread Analysis.”

Many service providers, due to the slow adoption of advanced and predictive technologies, have started offering these services at little to no additional cost. It should not take you long to find one amongst your existing approved vendor list that would jump at the opportunity to show off their wares.

In this scenario, let’s assume that you and I are two of ten key custodians in question. We both work in the research and development division of a successful tech startup company. I sent you an email back in 2006 that contains information about the project that we’re working on together. Within the body of this email, I make reference to a number of topics that would be considered trade secrets, deeming the record privileged under the parties’ agreement. You respond back the following day with all of the original text from my email in the body of your email. This continues back and forth over the next six weeks, totaling five emails before the email chain stops.

During a traditional linear review, each email within the thread would exist as its own record and designated to a batch to which a contract reviewer would be assigned. Let’s assume that three of the five emails were assigned to one reviewer, and the other two were assigned to another. During the review, these records typically do not get grouped together for side-by-side comparison. Being that all of the content in the original message that made the document privileged also exists in every other email in the thread, it is safe to assume that every email in the conversation should be flagged as privileged. Due to the review being conducted in such a manner, it is not uncommon for one of these emails to slip through the cracks.

The simple solution in this case is to ask your provider run a simple report leveraging email thread analysis technology to identify all anomalies of this nature. In return, you’ll have a list of every single document that is about to be produced that would otherwise contain privileged information. The screen shot below illustrates an example using a five email reply chain.

Paralegal Today Q1 2014

The first branch in this tree shows the originating email in this conversation flagged as privileged. You can tell this by the red circle indicator to the left of the subject line. The second email, or first reply, is also flagged as privileged. As soon as we get to the third email, we see the green tag indicating that this record was flagged as responsive. As you can see, all subsequent emails have been flagged as privileged.

A well-versed provider with the access to the right tools can automate the process of identifying every record that has been tagged within a conversation in contradiction with others.  Usually, you would have someone put an extra pair of eyes on the record in question, along with the surrounding communication to verify that this was not in error.

While this is not an end-all be-all solution to be leveraged across all matters, it is one of many weapons that you should have in your arsenal to prevent potentially costly and embarrassing missteps. Your attorneys will not have to learn anything new, and when asked how you magically found this document, you can say “I used advanced analytics”.



Kris Wasserman is a Sales Engineer and passionate technology evangelist with over 10 years of experience working hands-on with litigators, in-house counsel, and litigation support professionals in the face of complex ESI-laden matters and regulatory investigations as an eDiscovery Project Manager. He serves as one of many subject matter experts at Superior Discovery in New York City, providing technical sales support to the business development team. Kris has recently begun providing monthly educational seminars for attorneys and legal support staff for the sole purpose of streamlining the adoption of the latest technology solutions in a client-specific and practical manner.  For more information contact Kris at or follow him on Twitter @KrisWasserman.

[1] ILTA’s 2013 Technology Survey

[2] Does Technology Leap While Law Creeps?

[3] EDI-Oracle Study: Humans Are Still Essential in E-Discovery

[4] Perils of E-Discovery Reflected in Sanctions

This article was featured in “The Paralegal Today” magazine on May 1st, 2014. 

PT Q1 2014 vX.inddWhat’s Inside Each Issue
Here is an in-depth list of all the fabulous articles, columns and features found within the pages of Paralegal Today.

Mission Statement
As the only independent magazine serving the paralegal community, Paralegal Today ’s mission is to provide intelligent, thought-provoking and practical material to its readers, such as: career and technical information to help readers excel in the workplace, coverage of national news, trends and professional happenings that affect paralegals, as well as colorful and informative pieces on unique areas and people in the profession. We encourage our readers to reach out to us with their thoughts, questions and suggestions. Paralegal Today pledges to work tirelessly to benefit its readers in the most professional and unbiased manner possible.

Brief History
In 1983, Paralegal Today put together its first issue for the paralegal community. Then a Dallas-based national publication, the magazine promised to “be as helpful and approachable as a good friend next door.” In December of 1989, James Publishing Inc. of Costa Mesa, Calif., acquired Paralegal Today. With a new look and new ideas, Paralegal Today reached out to its readers with intelligent, timely and informative articles. Paralegal Today is the independent source of information on the paralegal field. Readers subscribe to Paralegal Today to stay abreast of developments within the field and to advance their careers. Utilizing its broad-based, national contacts and resources to keep pace with the evolution of the legal assistant profession, Paralegal Today provides the tools needed by every paralegal to attain his or her career goals. After all, what are good friends for?

HOW TO: SKYPE for Dummies (and loved ones)

You can do it!

So I went to the doctor the other day and he said that I’m developing a form of ‘Repetitive Stress Injury’ in my neck.  My neck of all places!  I can only attribute this to how many times a day I shake my head back and forth followed by a self administered forehead slap. Why you ask?  Because no one in my tiny little sphere of influence knows how to use Skype?

Why am I such a hardcore proponent of Skype?  Because anything your app can do, Skype can do better!

  • Instant messaging (for all you keyboard junkies)
  • Group chat and Group video conferencing (few can compete with the group video conferencing feature)
  • A real phone number (you choose the area code)
  • Free calls to other Skype users (HELLO!)
  • Call forwarding (forward incoming skype calls to your cell phone)
  • Visual Voicemail (first to come up with this one, everyone else has been copying since)
  • File Transfers (not the fastest, but extremely easy to use)
  • Desktop/Screen Sharing (great for one on one How-To sessions)
  • Platform independant (OSX, Windows, Linux, mobile devices)
  • Integrates seamlessly with Facebook (see your news feed from the Skype home window)
  • Send and receive SMS messages (Can’t say I’ve ever used this one, but I did use a service once that converted my voicemails to text messages and sent them to my cell phone — kind of cool, although wrought with inaccuracies )
  • Unbelievably cheap international calling rates (for calling those people in countries where the internet doesn’t exist yet)
  • Outbound calling to anywhere in the US for $30 a year (untouchable)
  • An unbelievable amount of gadgets and specialized devices built just for Skype (my personal favorite –> Bluetooth Retro Handset [shameless plug])
  • A countless number of add-on apps (you name it — call recorders, faxing capabilities, lie detectors, translators, games, etc. etc.)
  • Integrates directly into web browsers (recognizes phone numbers on websites and converts them to links == single click to call)
  • To Go – Fake Forwarding (amazing feature that can be re-purposed for a number of clever uses)

The list goes on kids.  While some features cost a buck or two, most features the casual user will ever need are completely FREE.  Skype is a text book example of how to find success using the Freemium business model. Below is the first in what will likely turn into a series of Skype How-To videos.

This one is aimed at all those loved ones out there still using tin cans and string to reach out and touch when you’ve got a brand new, shiny, ultra-expensive mac laptop sitting in front of you. I can do separate videos for Windows and Linux if need be… just ask.


Browsing securely with firefox extensions from kris wasserman on Vimeo.

When you park your car at the mall do you leave all of the windows down, keys in the ignition, and your wallet sitting on the passenger seat?  Of course not, then why do you do it when you’re browsing the web?  The next time I get a call because you clicked on something you shouldn’t have, or you decided to run the latest and greatest in fake anti-virus software I’m just going to format your hard drive and install linux on your machine with the edubuntu kidsafe packages installed to protect you from yourself.

Help me, help you.  Take 5 minutes to protect yourself from the evil doers out there on the interwebs and install these firefox extensions.

1. Adblock plus —
2. Adblock plus pop-up blocker —
3. Redirect Remover —
4. Browser protect —
5. WOT —
6. No Script —

They’re all free, and for the most part, easy to use.  The only add on that requires the use of anything north of your brain stem is the ‘No Script’ add on.  If you do not plan on reading the instructions for this one prior to installing it, please watch the video for a demonstration on how to use it.

Also covered in this video, tips about secure http transmission, and setting up temporary fake email addresses.

This video broke the record for my longest tutorial to date, but I felt that this is one of the more important topics that I will ever discuss on this site.  There are no safe neighborhoods on the internet.  All of the bad guys live right next door to you.


One of the best oversights in clever programming ever has got to be Apple’s auto-correct feature.  It’s almost as if the spell check software was replaced by Freud.  So you’ve been texting back and forth with someone and your phone decided it was smarter than you and inserted the text you meant to say.   Now you need to take a screenshot of your conversation and share it with world.  To do so, hold down the home button (the only round button on the face of the phone).  While holding down the home button, tap the ‘wake/sleep’ button on the top of the phone.  You’ll see the screen flash to let you know that the screen contents have been captured.  Jump back to your home screen and launch the camera or photos app, and you’ll see your photo.  Now upload that thing to facebook and make mom proud!


Windows Explorer Win7 menus missing
What happened to the menus in Windows Explorer?


Being that Microsoft decided to wait something just short of an eon to release a new version of it’s operating system many people have become extremely comfortable with windows XP.  Even though Windows 7 has been around for some time now, it’s finally starting to penetrate the marketplace on a large enough scale to mess with the Mom’s and Dad’s of the world.

To view the old “File – Edit – View – Tools” pull down menus in Windows Explorer simply press the ALT key on your keyboard.

Windows Explorer Pull Down Menus
Press the ALT key on your keyboard to view XP style pull down menus in explorer






HOW TO: ROTATE TEXT (PowerPoint 2007)


(Change the video size to fullscreen and the quality to HD in order to view the video in actual size)

During one of my union required coffee breaks I was shooting the breeze with a friend in the same office building as myself.  I have often commiserated with her over the many long hours that I have spent working on various PowerPoint presentations.  It wasn’t long before the Q&A started.

Microsoft has made a number of changes to the user interface in recent Office releases which has left the people who don’t use the application on a daily basis almost entirely in the dark.  The menu bar has been replaced entirely by what is now called ‘The Ribbon”.  The trick to the ribbon is knowing that the menu options and features that are displayed can and will change depending on what you select.

This short video will show how to grab and rotate text in a couple of different ways.  First by simply dragging the green rotate ball that is displayed at the top of a selected text box. If you were to hold down the shift key while rotating you’ll notice that the rotation will snap into place as opposed to freely turning on point.  This option is great if you quickly need a perfect right angle rotation.

If you really want to be precise, the other option is to select the text box and use the rotate feature from the “FORMAT” menu on the ribbon.


Day One… a new project is born.

I often find that a good way to get started, in terms of getting anything down is to simply start writing.  Just let the words fall on the page.  This will usually end up being the equivalent of rubbing dirt all over a clean little league uniform after sitting on the bench the entire game… but hey at least I did something, right?

So this is me making my permanent mark on the interwebs.  What little I have to offer will hopefully fill these pages in the years to come to create a library of useful little snapshots of Kris’ geek side.

Perhaps grandchildren will one day mock the need for me to physically pound keys hunched over a desk, or maybe the hive-mind created by our iTunes brain chips will kill off all need for entertaining reading or technical research.

But, in order for anything to meet it’s end, it must first begin.  So I am asking for input.  Simply reply to make a request for a how-to video.

If you had an all purpose geek at your disposal what would you ask of him?  _____________________________________________________________________________________