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AI may be used to sift through Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s documents

A five-page letter released today by US federal prosecutors recommended that technology-assisted review (TAR) be called on in the case against President Donald Trump’s attorney.

What it does: TAR requires human categorization of a small number of files from the document set to train the software. It is then deployed to sort the remaining documents. Retired magistrate judge Frank Maas, one of the neutral parties recommended by the prosecution to help review the documents, says the process is considered “at least as effective as exhaustive manual review, and far more efficient.”

What it will be used for: The software will scan for records potentially covered by attorney-client privilege among the trove of documents seized earlier this month from Michael Cohen’s home and office. The prosecutors’ letter said the process was chosen to ensure that review happens in a “timely and cost effective manner.”

Why it matters: This may become a high-profile example of a kind of white-collar automation that has been under way for some time: the use of software to review, discover, and categorize legal documents. While for the most part this technology doesn’t threaten the lawyers’ jobs, it does put paralegals at risk.

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