eDiscovery Daily Blog

For Better Document Review, You Need to Approach a ZEN State: eDiscovery Best Practices

Among the many definitions of the word “zen”, the Urban Dictionary provides perhaps the most appropriate (non-religious) definition of the word, as follows: a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind. However, when it comes to document review, a new web site by eDiscovery thought leader Ralph Losey may change your way of thinking about the word “ZEN”.

Ralph’s new site, ZEN Document Review, introduces ‘ZEN’ as an acronym: Zero Error Numerics. As stated on the site, “ZEN document review is designed to attain the highest possible level of efficiency and quality in computer assisted review. The goal is zero error. The methods to attain that goal include active machine learning, random sampling, objective measurements, and comparative analysis using simple, repeatable systems.”

The ZEN methods were developed by Ralph Losey’s e-Discovery Team (many of which are documented on his excellent e-Discovery Team® blog). They rely on focused attention and full clear communication between review team members.

In the intro video on his site, Ralph acknowledges that it’s impossible to have zero error in any large, complex project, but “with the help of the latest tools and using the right mindset, we can come pretty damn close”. One of the graphics on the site represents an “upside down champagne glass” that illustrates 99.9% probable relevant identified correctly during the review process at the top of the graph and 00.1% probable relevant identified incorrectly at the bottom of the graph.

The ZEN approach includes everything from “predictive coding analytics, a type of artificial intelligence, actively managed by skilled human analysts in a hybrid approach” to “quiet, uninterrupted, single-minded focus” where “dual tasking during review is prohibited” to “judgmental and random sampling and analysis such as ei-Recall” and even high ethics, with the goal being to “find and disclose the truth in compliance with local laws, not win a particular case”. And thirteen other factors, as well. Hey, nobody said that attaining ZEN is easy!

Attaining zero error in document review is a lofty goal – I admire Ralph for setting the bar high. Using the right tools, methods and attitude, can we come “pretty damn close”?  What do you think? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.