by W H Inmon, Forest Rim Technology

Consider what happens to a corporation when it receives a legal complaint – a lawsuit. The corporation goes into a high priority search for information.

Who is making the suit? What legitimacy is there to the lawsuit? What money changed hands? What expectations were not met? What other related information is there?

The search for information regarding the complaint is always top priority. And lawsuits have a way of finding their way to the board level of the corporation.  Once the corporation becomes aware of the lawsuit, the search for relevant information goes almost anywhere. In corporate files. In personal computers. In memos. In newspaper articles. In letters.

In short when a lawsuit arrives at the front door of a corporation, the corporation goes into a high priority reactive mode. Into a “cold sweat”, as it were.

And what happens when several lawsuits arrive? The reactive mode can turn into a full fledge panic.

How realistic is this scenario? The truth is that it is very realistic. And for some corporations it is a way of life that is always painful and time consuming.

But does this scenario have to be replayed repeatedly? Is there some way for the corporation to put themselves into a proactive mode when it comes to responding to complaints?

A Proactive Mode

The advantages of a corporation being in a proactive mode to respond to lawsuits are many. If a corporation could put themselves into a proactive mode, each new lawsuit could be treated in a calm, factual manner. The time consumed and the angst associated with being in a reactive state could be greatly alleviated. And over time, the number of lawsuits – especially those frivolous or specious lawsuits – would diminish.

So is it possible for a corporation to put itself into a proactive state, when it comes to dealing with potential lawsuits? The answer is yes, for the first time corporations can place themselves into a state of readiness.

Some Advances

So why is it that today corporations can afford to build an infrastructure that will place them in a proactive state? There are two major technological advances that enable the construction of an infrastructure for the purpose of becoming litigant “proactive”. Those two new advances are –

  • The ability to capture and manage huge amounts of data in a cost effective manner (i.e., Big Data), and
  • Textual disambiguation, technology that allows text to be read and organized so that raw text can be analyzed in an efficient and accurate manner.

The Infrastructure

So how would an organization go about creating an infrastructure that allows a corporation to be proactive in the preparation for litigation? Here are some thoughts –

1 – The corporation selects as much data as is likely to be needed in the defense of a law suit. There are three basic classes of data that need to be captured – transaction data, interaction data and other miscellaneous data. From these basic classes of data the individual values that need to be captured and examined include transaction details, records of conversations, records of memos and letters, contracts, claims, phone calls, emails, tweets, other messages, warrants, insurance records and so forth. Even relevant newspaper articles or other public sources of information become candidates for storage in the raw body of knowledge.

And how does a corporation know – before the fact – what information to store into its raw body of knowledge? The answer is that the corporation does not know what information to store. It simply stores all of the potentially relevant information.

The corporation creates the “raw body of knowledge” data base.

2 – After the raw body of knowledge data base is stored, the organization then uses textual disambiguation to read the raw body of knowledge and to index that information. The indexes are created by Textual disambiguation and can be on many different aspects of the data found in the raw body of knowledge. Some of the different ways that the raw body of knowledge is indexed includes by –

  • Data
  • Parties involved
  • Transaction id
  • Monetary amount
  • Items or products involved
  • Transaction type
  • Descriptions
  • Any other parameter that might be useful in the search for and classification of data involved in a dispute.

Once the indexes are created, at any point in time if there is a need to go from the index back to the raw data, such a transition can be made.

In classical data base design, the developer once tried to anticipate requirements and shape the data according to the needs of the requirements. In this case there is no attempt to shape the raw data because it is assumed that the requirements cannot be known in advance. Instead the approach is to capture as much data as can be indexed from the raw data and to let the analyst/lawyer addressing the lawsuit create queries that select the appropriate data. In other words the requirements for any given lawsuit are able to be customized at the moment of analysis of the lawsuit, and not any sooner.

The needs for a given lawsuit are unpredictable. Therefore any preshaping or design of the raw data is not justified or even desirable. Instead the building of the indexes needed by the analyst/lawyer is done on a case by case basis, as it is assumed that each case will be different from each other case.

By creating a proactive body of raw data and its associated indexes, the corporation is now in a position of become very proactive in the resolution of complaints levied against the corporation.

The Preventive Infrastructure

A variation of an organization becoming proactive in the management of law suits is the practice of preventing the lawsuits from ever occurring in the first place. A good place to start is emails or other corporate communications. Both internal and external communications are monitored.

The organization looks for such things a violations of sexual discrimination, age discrimination, racial discrimination, and so forth. By proactively monitoring corporate communications, if there is even the possibility of a complaint being issued, the corporation can find and address the problem before the problem turns into a law suit.

Forest Rim Technology was formed by Bill Inmon in order to provide technology to bridge the gap between structured and unstructured data. Forest Rim Technology is located in Castle Rock, Colorado.