The History and Future of Summation Software – “old Summation” vs. “new Summation”

There is still a LOT of confusion in the marketplace about the Summation namesake software. I continue to encounter many law firms using “old Summation” and I’m sure they’ve all been contacted by AccessData to upgrade … except that there’s no upgrade. The “new Summation” is different software, different licenses, and a different company.

Last month AccessData tweeted a link to Terry Mazura’s review of Summation 6.0 and they graciously let you download it from their website.

LJN Summation 6.0 review


I was happy to read Terry’s well-written review and I got the impression that Summation is addressing some of the issues that mid-size and smaller firms are facing in e-discovery challenges:

I have found that Summation gives me the ability and confidence to stand my ground against opposing counsel demands because I know that my processing engine (FTK, under Summation’s hood) is world-class, my database is sound, and Summation generates detailed audit logs I can use to demonstrate exactly how data was handled by users…This is crucial because it allows smaller law firms such as mine to compete vigorously with government and larger law firms that have deeper e-discovery support and resources.

My only disagreement is that today’s Summation (aka “new Summation”) is NOT always the best choice for mid-size and smaller law firms handling “routine cases with modest document volume” as Mr. Mazura suggests.

The “new Summation” requires much more of a financial stretch than what firms were used to with “old Summation.” Larger firms can justify the cost because they routinely handle LARGE document volumes, and once the platform is in place, certainly it can be used for smaller volume matters.

The History of Summation

The original Summation was developed in 1988 and became the standard for document review for many years.

Who remembers the file drawers?

Who remembers the file drawers?

Summation Legal Technologies was acquired by Wolters Kluwer in 2004 and folded into the CT Corporation, so the product was branded “CT Summation.”

I reviewed Summation iBlaze 3.0 in January 2010 (see “iBlaze 3.0 Goes Native”). Turns out this was the last version of the “old Summation.

Review-iBlaze 3.0 Goes Native

In June 2010, AccessData acquired Summation and plunged the software into its “dark years” as the company struggled to find how “document review” complimented their highly-esteemed FTK forensic tools and utilities.

In my 2010 review, I explained how Summation had evolved from managing lists of scanned paper documents into a platform coming to terms with electronic data:

CT Summation was born out of the idea that lawyers needed an electronic solution to manage, organize, and review the boxes of paper documents they collected in a litigation matter. There was no need in 1988 to process and host massive PST files. CT Summation was designed to be a simple database to hold scanned images of paper documents, providing litigation teams with a spreadsheet-like list where they could ‘code’ relevant objective and subjective information about the documents.

I also discussed some improvements that iBlaze 3.0 made to the transcript tools, which was one of the best features of the Summation platform.

iBlaze 3.0-screenshot-redaction

Some of you will remember that there was a specialized product called “Summation Enterprise” for larger, high-end matters that was the first Summation product to utilize a SQL database backend rather than the proprietary “Saturn” database utilized by Summation iBlaze.

Fast forward to February 2014 when I was fortunate to review Summation 5 Pro, one of the first major releases of the Summation platform since the AccessData acquisition.

Only this was NOT an upgrade to Summation … this was a COMPLETELY NEW PRODUCT.

Summation 5.0 Review

Here’s how I described it in my review:

Summation 5 is not a simple, long-awaited upgrade to a legacy Summation installation. The new Summation Pro and Express versions bear no resemblance to anything from the days of iBlaze. AccessData has kept some transcript management tools and the side panel is still called “Case Explorer,” but beyond that it’s Summation in name only.

Summation 5.0-review layout

I didn’t have room to editorialize in that review, but I understand and acknowledge what AccessData did by keeping the name of the product. It was a brilliant marketing move, but at the same time completely misleading and a bit disingenuous.

There are many mid-size and smaller law firms that don’t have a full-time litigation support crew, nor do they have IT consultants that are familiar with legal-specific software. This brilliant marketing move took advantage of the prior name-recognition, but the product was COMPLETELY different. AccessData should have christened the product with a new name and announced that Summation as we all knew it was dead.

The “old Summation” continues to limp along in many, many, many law firms today. Most of those firms are keeping it on life support for a handful of legacy matters that have a miniscule chance of being accessed again, but they’re not important enough to migrate to another system.

One excellent strategic move by AccessData with the “new Summation” was to use their FTK forensic technology as the data processing front-end before documents were loaded for document review. Prior to this, firms mostly used third-party tools such as LAW PreDiscovery (Lexis) or eScan-IT (Ipro).

The Future of Summation

Chris Dale at the eDisclosure Information Project recently hosted a great interview with AccessData CEO Keith James (fellow UD Law School grad!) who discusses “a number of changes and strategic decisions that [AccessData] made earlier on in 2015 to focus more on [customers].”

James had specific comments on Summation:

For standalone document review, we have Summation. People are very familiar with the brand name but some people may not realize that we have in the last several years completely retooled that product.

There are many things which are unique about Summation: we have made a lot of advances in the stability and speed of it, and we have advanced features such as visual analytics, technology-assisted review, and fact management, as well as transcript management.

These things are all part of the standard Summation, so from a value standpoint we’ve got a scalable, fast, reliable product that has all of the advanced features built in. It is something we are particularly proud of and have made a lot of progress with.

I was glad to read Mr. James’ comments and happy to hear that AccessData has re-focused their resources on customers and their needs. Summation 6.0 sounds like a great step forward in that direction.

(Ed. Unfortunately, ALM decided to utilize a paywall for any articles over 6 months old so my old reviews are not accessible unless you have a LexisNexis subscription. If you are interested in reading the old reviews, e-mail me at and I can send you a PDF of the reviews. Thank you!)

Brett Burney to Serve as Faculty for ABA Webinar on Federal Rule Amendments – June 8, 2016

Brett Burney will serve as faculty for a live ABA webinar covering the Amended Rules of Civil Procedure that went into effect on December 1, 2015.

Can You Follow the Rules? Understanding How the Federal Rule Amendments Impact E-Discovery” will take place at 12:00PM ET on Wednesday, June 8, 2016.

Discussion will cover the impact of the amendments over the last six months, as well as consideration of the amendments’ future goals.

Brett will be joined by Christine Chalstrom of Shephard Data Services in Minneapolis, MN.

For more information—or to register—click here to visit the ABA.

Columbus E-Discovery Roundtable Breakfast (Fri. Jan. 20) – “Designing an Effective E-Discovery Workflow”

Brett Burney will be participating in an E-Discovery Roundtable Breakfast on Friday, January 20, 2012 in Columbus, OH. Brett will be joining Geoff Wilcox of Black Letter Discovery, Marc Fulkert of Jones Day, and Joe Grespin of TechLaw Solutions. Details below:

Topic: “Designing an Effective E-Discovery Workflow”

Date: Friday, January 20, 2012

Time: 8:00am to 9:30am (Networking Breakfast at 8:00am; Roundtable Discussion begins at 8:30am)

Location: Black Letter Discovery
10 W. Broad St.
Suite 575
Columbus, OH 43215

RSVP: Geoff Wilcox, Executive Vice President, Black Letter Discovery

Excellent Coverage of LegalTech West Coast 2011 from E-Discovery Insights Blog

LegalTech West Coast 2011 Brett Burney Speaks

I was honored to be invited to speak at LegalTech West Coast last month (May 17 & 18), but I didn’t get a chance to post on my experiences.
Fortunately, my friend Perry Segal was there and did a fantastic job of covering the show on Day 1 and Day 2.

I had not met Perry before the show, but he had graciously filled in for me last year when I had to miss a speaking engagement in the Los Angeles area. Since Perry lives close to the area, I reached out to him at the last minute and he was able to fill in. So I was elated to meet him in person and my only regret is that we didn’t have time to sit and talk (you’ll see from his Day 2 post that he was quite busy).

I had a great time at LegalTech West Coast. It’s a much smaller show than it’s New York sibling, but it’s always great to catch up with friends and network with folks in the industry.

Fios Webinar: State E-Discovery: An Important Year for Changes

Fios State E-Discovery RulesTom Allman will be giving his fourth annual Fios webcast on the state of the states’ adoption of e-discovery rules on Thursday, December 9, 2010.

I regard Tom as one of the most informed folks on state e-discovery rules, and regularly provides updates on the topic such as this one from September 9, 2010. I depended heavily on Tom’s research when I wrote my article “Mining E-Discovery Stateside” for

As significant as the amendments were to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, I believe it’s even more important at the state level, although many folks overlook them. In fact, I’ve had litigators tell me they don’t have to worry about that “e-discovery stuff” because their case isn’t in federal court, even thought they’re sitting in a state that has adopted the FRCP amendments almost word-for-word.

The two best, updated resources I usually point folks to for state e-discovery rules is:

I highly recommend registering for Tom’s Fios webinar on December 9, 2010, and make it a point to learn more about how e-discovery rules are being adopted by the states.

State Rules of Civil Procedure for e-Discovery

Webinar: eDiscovery Project Management

I’m thrilled to be presenting a webinar hosted by Encore Discovery Solutions tomorrow (Friday, June 11, 2010) entitled “eDiscovery Project Management.”

The topic is a popular one these days. Many legal professionals “manage” projects everyday, but the intricacies of e-discovery require that we adopt traits found in the technical discipine of project management.

I’ve written about e-discovery project management for TechnoLawyer and that article is available here.

I also recorded a podcast on with Karl Schieneman entitled Can You Project Manage Electronic Discovery?

You can register for the eDiscovery Project Management webinar at Encore Discovery’s website. Even if you can’t attend in person tomorrow, still sign up as Encore graciously provides an archive of recorded webinars that can be accessed later.

Update: Archived recording of the Webinar is available from Encore Discovery Solutions here.

Viewing a Lawyer’s Prize Through IT Eyes

eye on laptop screen.jpg

An excellent IT perspective on e-discovery today from Ira Winkler entitled “Arrogant lawyers: the greatest threat to your organization.” Winkler is a well-respected writer on corporate information security.

I’ve witnessed the same scenario in corporate environments concerning e-discovery that Winkler describes in the first few paragraphs such as “information security staff traditionally look at their role in the e-discoery process as ensuring the integrity of the data…” and “many people are intimidated by their organization’s lawyers – they just want to follow orders and gather the data.”

I even appreciate Winkler’s accounts of a couple of projects he’s been involved in and see the same blustering and pomposity in many litigation matters as described by Winkler.

But I don’t quite agree with Winkler’s assertions 1) that large corporations have “unlimited financial resources” to throw at litigation matters or 2) the perception of lawyers as arrogant in the context of dealing with IT professionals.

First, no corporation that I’ve worked with in the last few years involved in e-discovery has unlimited financial resources. True the legal department may enjoy a little more latitude in spending than other departments because of the pressures of corporate litigation, but unfortunately, a lot of that money is NOT spent on thorough, carefully considered e-discovery tools or scrutinized workflows.

Second, what Winkler asserts as the “arrogance” of lawyers in his article is what I would describe as the “technical ignorance” of lawyers. Winkler states that the question “do they even know what they are disclosing?” is the most critical question that information security professionals should be asking their lawyers because “nobody really knows what they are releasing.”

Winkler comments on how he has witnessed companies “try to image the data so that you cannot search the data with text based tools. There seems to be an attitude that if we can’t find the data, they can’t either.” And while I agree with Winkler that this is still unfortunately the attitude of many lawyers today, it’s not because the lawyers are arrogant, it’s because lawyers freely admit that they have no idea how an e-mail archiving system works (or even if the company has one), don’t know how their company’s network share drives are set up, have no clue about the company’s backup procedures, and couldn’t tell you what e-mail system they’re using.

Winkler also neglected to mention one other important player in this game – the outside counsel from a private law firm. I know very few in-house lawyers at corporations that directly handle their litigation matters – that’s usually a job delegated to more experienced litigators from outside law firms. The arrogance factor may be a little higher for those lawyers because of the environment they work in every day. In-house lawyers work for the company. Outside lawyers have to impress their entire portfolio of clients.

Now for the other perspective: Craig Ball offers some excellent practical advice for lawyers in dealing with IT professionals in his article “To Have and To Hold” addressing litigation holds.

My favorite quote from Craig’s article:

“Consider IT and business units, then tailor your forms to their functions. What’s the point directing a salesperson to preserve backup tapes? That’s an IT function. Why ask IT to preserve material about a certain subject or deal? IT doesn’t deal with content. Couch preservation directives in the terms and roles each recipient understands.”

The key phrase there is “IT doesn’t deal with content.”

Now obviously, “content” is practically what IT deals with at every level, seeing as they manage “information.” But IT doesn’t fret about e-mail messages or documents from the standpoint of what they contain – they are much more concerned about how and where the data is stored (e.g. e-mail sub-folders & archives, network shares, what directories can they exclude out of a backup, etc.) Legal cares about the content of data first and then concerns themselves with where it can be located.

One last counter-point I would offer to Mr. Winkler – I completely agree that lawyers must become better educated about information systems at a company and they must understand the risks associated with “releaseing” information, but it is also imperative that IT professionals understand the full environment of the data they lord over.

For example, in just about every corporation that I’ve worked with involving e-discovery, the IT professionals have an extensive and thorough handle on e-mail. But when it comes to managing individual documents and files (Word, PDF, Excel, PPT, etc.) I have yet to find a secure, relevant and professional structure around the management of those documents. Corporations rarely use any kind of document management system or if they do, it’s poorly implemented, and often circumvented to the point of uselessness. That certainly doesn’t help the process of e-discovery.

Deciphering the “Mystery of the PST”


Exciting news yesterday on two open-source tools released by Microsoft that now give software developers remarkable insight into .PST files.

This is vitally important and exciting to the world of e-discovery. One of the first places we look for information today is e-mail. And if we want e-mail, there’s a high probability that it will come from a Microsoft Outlook / Exchange environment. And if the e-mail comes from Microsoft Outlook / Exchange, we’ll probably receive a .PST file.

Craig Ball (as always) does a great job of explaining how we encounter .PST files in e-discovery matters in “How to Go Native Without Going South.”

Any IT professional that manages a Microsoft Exchange server can export .PST files. Anyone that uses Microsoft Outlook can export a .PST file from their desktop (File > New > Outlook Data File, or I usually click File > Import and Export).

The .PST is a common file format for transporting multiple e-mail messages, but a .PST file can also contain calendar information, notes, and contact information. When we request e-mail from a client, we either receive a complete .PST file or a “reconstituted file” (as Craig Ball puts it) that contains select, relevant e-mail messages.

The problem is that when lawyers get a .PST file, the apparently irrepressible instinct is to immediately open it in Outlook to see what it contains (since we know that’s where the juiciest stuff lives). This is a bad idea for several reasons, but no doubt it’s important to crack into that .PST file as soon as possible. This is what I call the “mystery of the .PST,” a phrase I used in my review of Wave Software’s Trident software that was never published (until I uploaded it here).

Up until yesterday, we had to have Outlook to peek inside a .PST file. Many litigation support / e-discovery tools process .PST files including Trident,  CT Summation, LAW PreDiscovery, Discovery Cracker, etc. But to do so, they had to have access to Microsoft Outlook to interpret the complexities of the .PST through the Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI) and the Outlook Object Model.

The new tools from Microsoft (the PST Data Structure View Tool and the PST File Format SDK released as open-source software) now negate the need to have Microsoft Outlook installed on a system that’s processing .PST files. This is a huge boon to the e-discovery software industry. No lawyer will need to touch these tools, but if you develop e-discovery software today, you should put your best folks on this immediately if you haven’t already. This will dramatically streamline many of the tools already on the market, and provide opportunities for additional, more robust, behind-the-scenes, invasive indexing of .PST files for finding the relevant messages necessary for litigation.

You know this is important for our industry becuase Microsoft’s own press release even mentions e-discovery as one of the “complex scenarios” where these tools will be useful.

The tools in their current state offer read-only capabilities, but this video promises that full write capabilities are on the roadmap.

(My appreciation to Paul Bain who posted links to related stories on The Litigation Support List)

UPDATE 2010.05.27: Another great story from CNET on Microsoft opening-up access to Outlook .PST files, including the possibility of opening .PST files in Google Apps or Thunderbird. This is significant because we will now have the ability to open .PST files in applications other than Outlook. Again, this will not always be the most prudent method of exploring the “mystery” of a .PST, but it’s fantastic to have options WITHOUT the need for squirrelly, third-party utilities.

Clearwell Views E-Discovery With Ease (My Review of v.5.0)


Clearwell is clearly a leader in the e-discovery market. My review of version 5.0 was published by a few months ago and I was very impressed.

Most notable was the “Pre-Processing” module now incorporated into the Clearwell environment that provides insight into data before it gets populated into a review database.

I’ve always been a big fan of how Clearwell displays e-mail “threads” – in fact, I think they do it better than just about any other platform that truly attempts this.

Right around the time my review was published, Clearwell announced version 5.5 and they have also begun work on version 6.

You can read “Clearwell Views E-Discovery With Ease” on