Technology Assisted Review (TAR) Increases Efficiencies, Drives Cost Savings

Friday, January 25, 2013 by Eric Robinson


In Da Silva Moore, Judge Peck emphasized, “there simply is no review tool that guarantees perfection.” Perfect production would likely prove unduly burdensome under Rule 26, as the cost of getting it exactly right would likely outweigh any benefits. Pursuant to the Federal Rules requiring the “just, speedy, and inexpensive” resolution of any matter, parties to litigation should aim to drive down costs while maintaining or improving the efficiency of the review process.

As  my previous blog post indicated, when technology-assisted review is properly leveraged, it is a valuable tool that can bolster the review process—but how does such a tool effect the overall efficiency of review, and does a party using it realize substantial cost savings? Let’s take a look.


: Technology-assisted review (TAR) requires additional tasks and expertise, which significantly increases costs upon a party leveraging it.


TAR improves efficiency, which drives substantial cost savings.

Under the manual search and review model, teams of licensed attorneys swoop in, receive training on the case and painstakingly review every document for privilege, relevance, and key issues. These attorneys make document-coding decisions for hours on end, often under tight time frames, typically reviewing 50 to 80 documents an hour. In addition to the reviewers, this model also requires expert attorneys to manage the review process by organizing training sessions, assigning document batches, validating quality control, and preparing final production sets. With the large staff required to perform such a task, it should come as no surprise that document review often accounts for about 73 percent of review costs.

A process leveraging TAR poses a lower staffing need than manual document review, resulting in a more efficient overall process. Typically, only those attorneys considered to be subject matter experts initially review and code fractions of the document set.  These experts “train” the system until the machine achieves a level of confidence, precision and recall acceptable to the case team—resulting in substantially less time spent reviewing the larger document corpus. Once appropriate recall and precision levels are reached, then the team can proceed to final review and production. Ultimately, such a process not only limits the number of eyes needed to perform review, but it also applies advanced criteria which removes a greater number of unresponsive documents from the review set.

So, how does this translate to cost savings? Despite the added third party provider costs and higher billing rates for expert reviewers, research suggests that leveraging TAR produces significant cost savings for the review team. According to the RAND study, cost savings ranged from 20 to 70 percent for large document review projects, and the number of attorney review hours decreased by as much as 80 percent in one matter. Simply put, for matters dealing with higher data volumes—thus requiring a greater number of eyes to manually search and review each document—TAR represents an opportunity for significant cost savings compared to a traditional linear review.


Technology-assisted review is, without a doubt, here to stay. If 2012 was the year that the legal community finally lifted the veil on TAR and acknowledged it, then 2013 seems poised to be the year in which it is fully accepted and adopted by the legal community. Those who cling to the myths associated with TAR are in danger of violating duties to their clients, and potentially wasting significant time and money. In nearly every matter, TAR most certainly deserves a look, and you might even like what you find.  So, what are you waiting for?