Forbes Interviews Catalyst’s John Tredennick and Mark Noel on Technology Assisted Review

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What is the impact of data and technology on the modern law firm and lawyer? This was the question Forbes contributor David J. Parnell set out to answer when he recently interviewed John Tredennick, Catalyst’s founder and CEO, and Mark Noel, Catalyst’s managing director of professional services.

At one point in the wide-ranging interview — which was published on Forbes last week — Parnell asks Tredennick about some of the major changes in legal technology he has witnessed over the years. In response, Tredennick says that the legal industry is currently in the midst of a major transition with respect to technology assisted review.

Suddenly technology has come where you take a million documents in review—and for any big firm lawyer that’s a big smile on their face because with junior associates reviewing at 500 docs a day, you’ve got your year made—and somebody comes along and says, “You know, with a wave of a wand and a couple training docs, we’re going to cut that million documents down to about 50,000 docs that are probably important.” Maybe 95% of those billable hours go away. That does not make the lawyers smile. That does not make you smile.

But I’ve seen this for 30 years. The innovation comes out; the billable hour suffers; but you always have a few law firms that are not at the top, and then they say, “We don’t have 50,000 associates. Let’s go outsmart them. We’ll lead the way.” And they start taking business away from the big guys. And the corporate entities listen and change happens.

Elsewhere in the interview, Noel tells Parnell that technologies such as TAR are helping to ease the work of lawyers, but will never replace them.

Many people are realizing that they have to change the way they work. And tools like technology assisted review are changing the way attorneys work. But it’s not going to replace them. TAR tools can quickly analyze millions of documents for subtle patterns, but only humans can decide what’s important to the case, or what stories the documents can tell. So these systems are hybrids: The machines do what they do best, and the humans do what they do best. There will be plenty of work to go around for skilled practitioners who know the tools and have the right skillsets.

Read the full interview at Forbes.

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About Bob Ambrogi

Bob is known internationally for his expertise in the Internet and legal technology. He held the top editorial positions at the two leading national U.S. legal newspapers, the National Law Journal and Lawyers USA. A long-time advisor to Catalyst, Bob now divides his time between law practice and media consulting. He writes two blogs, LawSites and MediaLaw, co-authors Law.com's Legal Blog Watch, and co-hosts the weekly legal-affairs podcast Lawyer2Lawyer. A 1980 graduate of Boston College Law School, Bob is a life member of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation and an active member of the Massachusetts Bar Association, which honored him in 1994 with its President's Award.