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Using front-loaded analytics to speed up legal investigations

Simon PriceWith investigations on the rise, effectively managing and reducing potential brand, reputation and financial risk is critical to all organizations. Research from Gartner recently found that legal and compliance professionals are experiencing higher than normal levels of work. These demands are often at odds with static or declining budgets and resources constraints. 

Whilst the way we work may have changed significantly during the last eighteen months, the regulatory environment in which UK businesses operate in has not. Legal, investigations and compliance teams all still need to ensure that the right processes and procedures are followed, with the correct steps ensuring that the business is not exposed to risk.

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How are smart in-house teams tackling more – and new types of – investigations to effectively curb risk? 

The path to critical data

Whether it is an internal or external investigation, when it hits, your enemy is always the clock. In our world today, all investigations are driven by documents from a myriad of sources—email, chat, collaboration platforms, cloud repositories, enterprise IT systems and more. You need to find critical data that answers key questions and find it fast. This often means throwing bodies (including expensive external law firms) at vast document collections, and reviewing documents one-by-one to answer the critical questions in any investigation: who, what, when, where and how. This approach takes up more time, resources and budget. 

How are innovative investigative teams leveraging new tools and analytics to get the job done, faster and with far fewer resources? 


Using analytics to make the difference 

From the get go, it is vital that investigative teams have access to modern solutions with advanced data analytics to quickly explore data sets to find facts, weigh up strengths and weaknesses, and make an informed decision on the best case strategy. Essential capabilities include tools to identify, collect and cull electronically stored information (ESI), ways to organize and visualize those results, and analytics to assess and interrogate the data to gain insight into the facts that will answer your questions. Modern investigations solutions with embedded analytics limit unnecessary time, budget and resource expenditures “fishing” for information.  

What are the other benefits of advanced analytics? Firstly, it enables you to visualise communication patterns and recipients of interest. You can also group documents based on concepts or the contextual meaning of associated common phrases, assess sentiment for a faster and deeper understanding of data, and include or exclude phrases across the data set. These techniques help you to narrow down results, uncover pivotal events, people and places through entity identification (without requiring linear review), and better predict the search terms and parameters which are most likely to uncover valuable insights.


Any automation that can be done in the early stages of an investigation to save time is vital. Humans and machines can work together to discover the most relevant information fast. Machines can even be trained to ‘find more like that’, and provide human investigative teams with relevant data that may not have previously been flagged.

Why it matters

In terms of employee numbers, legal, compliance and investigations teams often make up a very small part of the organisation, but they play a vital role – far bigger than the number of employees would suggest – in keeping the business and its staff safe from risk.

The investigative role is not an easy one. For exactly that reason, teams should be provided with the tools that they need to make informed decisions and reduce the chance of mistakes. Modern solutions are capable of removing huge amounts of legwork, reducing errors and cutting down the time to making those vital decisions. In turn, making the solutions themselves priceless and the job that little bit easier.

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As we start to return to somewhat ‘normal’ life, it is clear that now more than ever businesses need to support overworked investigations staff by reducing some of the heavy lifting. Only then, with time back to analyse and make the decisions faster, will they be confident that each and every investigative decision is backed up with irrefutable evidence.

Simon Price, European VP, Legal Tech, OpenText has over 20 years of experience in software sales and management. He currently manages the OpenText LegalTech sales teams across Europe. Simon joined OpenText via the acquisition of Recommind in 2017 and has been with the company since launching the Recommind business in the UK in 2006. Prior to joining Recommind/OpenText, Simon worked for 10 years in various sales roles at Aderant, a market leading provider of billing solutions to the legal market. Simon holds a BSc in Marketing from the University of Newcastle.

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