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Are document reviewers about to be replaced? (access required)

The electronic discovery community is all abuzz about U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck’s Feb. 24 opinion in which he recognized that “computer-assisted review is an acceptable way to search for relevant [Electronically Stored Information] in appropriate cases.” Peck, of the Southern District of New York, is one of several judges who has taken an active role in the debate on electronic discovery issues, along with Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola in Washington, D.C. and our own Chief Magistrate Judge Paul W. Grimm. When Peck ruled from the bench Feb. 14, numerous blogs and websites and even the American Bar Association were quick to call the “decision . . . to require a so-called predictive coding protocol for automated e-discovery in an employment discrimination class action” one that could put document review teams’ jobs at risk. In the current job market, an opinion that signals the death knell of any position — even document review positions — is highly concerning, particularly to young attorneys and law students. But, there is good news. When Judge Peck issued his formal opinion, he clarified: To correct the many blogs about this case, initiated by a press release from plaintiffs’ vendor—the Court did not order the parties to use predictive coding. The parties had agreed to defendants’ use of it, but had disputes over the scope and implementation, which the Court ruled on, thus accepting the use of computer-assisted review in this lawsuit.