We know how much you miss taking the bar. Or perhaps you just miss the excitement of the certified fraud examiner or forensic accountant exams. We understand—you long to showcase your legal trivia expertise again. To satisfy your craving, Symantec is offering a chance to test your hard earned eDiscovery knowledge at LegalTech, and to do it under game show pressure. Are you ready to meet the challenge…find out more here.
At LegalTech New York 2013, a few lucky attendees will be selected to face celebrity host Ben Bailey in the eDi$covery Cab. Picking up outside the Hilton, next to the infamous Symantec and Sweetery food truck café, attendees will have a chance to take a ride, answer eDiscovery related questions and win cash. Not an expert on FRCP rule 26 (a) through (g)? Then bring your fellow LTNY-attending colleagues and compete as a team.
To have a chance to play, LegalTech 2013 attendees must register here.
Symantec will match all winnings in the eDi$covery Cab and donate to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City for Hurricane Sandy relief, supporting long term restoration efforts in New York City. Contestants will also have the opportunity to donate their winnings to the same fund.
Don’t miss ourmicrositefor a look at Symantec’s LTNY 2013 presence, complete with the LegalTech New York video series, SuperSession schedules and details of the daily MacBook Air photo contest.
The eDiscovery frenzy that has gripped the American legal system over the past decade has become increasingly expensive. Particularly costly to both clients and the courts is the process of preserving and reviewing ESI. As a solution to these costs, many are emphasizing the concept of “proportionality.” Proportionality typically requires that the benefits of discovery be commensurate with its corresponding burdens.
Despite nearly universal agreement that eDiscovery should be governed by proportionality standards, there remains a polarizing debate that threatens to curtail the impact of proportionality. That debate is centered on disagreements over the scope of ESI preservation, the standard for permissible discovery and the use of cutting edge review technologies like predictive coding.
To better understand these issues and to explore feasible solutions, Philip Favro, Discovery Counsel at Symantec, will lead a lively discussion at LegalTech New York among industry leaders such U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank Maas, Ariana Tadler of Milberg LLP and Shawn Cheadle, General Counsel (Military Space) at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. The panelists will take stances on either side of difficult questions like:
Should proportionality standards apply to the preservation of ESI to help address the high costs of retaining so much data?
Will the proportionality rule ever be used to rein in lawyers and judges that have distorted the standard of discovery from reasonableness to perfection?
Can predictive coding facilitate proportional discovery when lawyers are unwilling to share their training set of documents?
While our expert panelists are well-versed in both sides of the proportionality debate, we had a little fun imagining what they might be going through before they take the stage on Tuesday, January 29th. Watch this video to get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into the LTNY Locker Room.
In addition, don’t miss our micrositefor the complete plenary session description and a look at Symantec’s LTNY 2013 presence. We hope you stay tuned to eDiscovery 2.0 from now until the show to hear what Symantec has planned for the supersessions, our special event, contest giveaways and product announcements.
As for this year’s show we’re pleased to expand our presence and are very excited to introduce eDiscovery without limits, along with a LegalTech that promises sessions, social events and opportunities for attendees in the same vein. In regards to the first aspect – the sessions – the team of Symantec eDiscovery counsels will moderate panelist sessions on topics ranging across and beyond the EDRM. Joined by distinguished industry representatives they’ll push the discussion deeper in 5 sessions with a potential 6 hours of CLE credits offered to the attendees.
Matt Nelson, resident author of Predictive Coding for Dummies will moderate “How good is your predictive coding poker face?” where panelists tackle the recently controversial subjects of disclosing the use of Predictive Coding technology, statistical sampling and the production of training sets to the opposition.
Allison Walton will moderate, “eDiscovery in 3D: The New Generation of Early Case Assessment Techniques” where panelists will enlighten the crowd on taking ECA upstream into the information creation and retention stages and implementing an executable information governance workflow. Allison will also moderate “You’re Doing it Wrong!!! How To Avoid Discovery Sanctions Due to a Flawed Legal Hold Process” where panelistsrecommend best practices towards a defensible legal hold process in light of potential changes in the FRCP and increased judicial scrutiny of preservation efforts.
Phil Favro will moderate “Protecting Your ESI Blindside: Why a “Defensible Deletion” Offense is the Best eDiscovery Defense” where panelists debate the viability of defensible deletionin the enterprise, the related court decisions to consider and quantifying the ROI to support a deletion strategy.
Chris Talbott will moderate a session on “Bringing eDiscovery back to Basics with the Clearwell eDiscovery Platform”, where engineer Anna Simpson will demonstrate Clearwell technology in the context of our panelist’s everyday use on cases ranging from FCPA inquires to IP litigation.
Please browse our microsite for complete supersession descriptions and a look at Symantec’s LTNY 2013 presence. We hope you stay tuned to eDiscovery 2.0 throughout January to hear what Symantec has planned for the plenary session, our special event, contest giveaways and product announcements.
The biggest legal technology event of the year, otherwise known as LegalTech New York, always seems to have a few common rallying cries and this year was no different. In addition to cloud computing and social media, predictive coding and information governance were hot topics of discussion that dominated banter among vendors, speakers, and customers. Symantec conducted a survey on the exhibit show floor to find out what attendees really thought about these two burgeoning areas and to explore what the future might hold.
Information Governance is critical, understood, and necessary – but it is not yet being adequately addressed.
Although 84% of respondents are familiar with the term information governance and 73% believe that an integrated information governance strategy is critical to reducing information risk and cost, only 19% have implemented an information governance solution. These results beg the question, if information governance is critical, then why aren’t more organizations adopting information governance practices?
Perhaps the answer lies in the cross-functional nature of information governance and confusion about who is responsible for the organization’s information governance strategy. For example, the survey also revealed that information governance is a concept that incorporates multiple functions across the organization, including email/records retention, data storage, data security and privacy, compliance, and eDiscovery. Given the broad impact of information governance across the organization, it is no surprise respondents also indicated that multiple departments within the organization – including Legal, IT, Compliance, and Records Management – have an ownership stake.
These results tend to suggest at least two things. First, information governance is a concept that touches multiple parts of the organization. Defining and implementing appropriate information governance policies across the organization should include an integrated strategy that involves key stakeholders within the organization. Second, recognition that information governance is a common goal across the entire organization highlights the fact that technology must evolve to help address information governance challenges.
The days of relying too heavily on disconnected point solutions to address eDiscovery, storage, data security, and record retention concerns are limited as organizations continue to mandate internal cost cutting and data security measures. Decreasing the number of point solutions an organization supports and improving integration between the remaining solutions is a key component of a good information governance strategy because it has the effect of driving down technology and labor costs. Similarly, an integrated solution strategy helps streamline the backup, retrieval, and overall management of critical data, which simultaneously increases worker productivity and reduces organizational risk in areas such as eDiscovery and data loss prevention.
The trail that leads from point solutions to an integrated solution strategy is already being blazed in the eDiscovery space and this trend serves as a good information governance roadmap. More and more enterprises faced with investigations and litigation avoid the cost and time of deploying point solutions to address legal hold, data collection, data processing, and document review in favor of a single, integrated, enterprise eDiscovery platform. The resulting reduction in cost and risk is significant and is fueling support for even broader information governance initiatives in other areas. These broader initiatives will still include integrated eDiscovery solutions, but the initiatives will continue to expand the integrated solution approach into other areas such as storage management, record retention, and data security technologies to name a few.
Despite mainstream familiarity, predictive coding technology has not yet seen mainstream adoption but the future looks promising.
Much like the term information governance, most respondents were familiar with predictive coding technology for electronic discovery, but the survey results indicated that adoption of the technology to date has been weak. Specifically, the survey revealed that while 97% of respondents are familiar with the term predictive coding, only 12% have adopted predictive coding technology. Another 19% are “currently adopting” or plan to adopt predictive coding technology, but the timeline for adoption is unclear.
When asked what challenges “held back” respondents from adopting predictive coding technology, most cited accuracy, cost, and defensibility as their primary concerns. Concerns about “privilege/confidentiality” and difficulty understanding the technology were also cited as reasons impeding adoption. Significantly, 70% of respondents believe that predictive coding technology would “go mainstream” if it was easier to use, more transparent, and less expensive. These findings are consistent with the observations articulated in my recent blog (2012: Year of the Dragon and Predictive Coding – Will the eDiscovery Landscape Be Forever Changed?)
The survey results combined with the potential cost savings associated with predictive coding technology suggest that the movement toward predictive coding technology is gaining steam. Lawyers are typically reluctant to embrace new technology that is not intuitive because it is difficult to defend a process that is difficult to understand. The complexity and confusion surrounding today’s predictive coding technology was highlighted recently in Da Silva Moore v. Publicis Group, et. al. during a recent status conference. The case is venued in Southern District of New York Federal Court before Judge Andrew Peck and serves as further evidence that predictive coding technology is gaining steam. Expect future proceedings in the Da SilvaMoore case to further validate these survey results by revealing both the promise and complexity of current predictive coding technologies. Similarly, expect next generation predictive coding technology to address current complexities by becoming easier to use, more transparent, and less expensive.
Now that that dust has settled, the folks who attended LegalTech New York 2012 can try to get to the mountain of emails that accumulated during the event that was LegalTech. Fortunately, there was no ice storm this year, and for the most part, people seemed to heed my “what not to do at LTNY” list. I even found the Starbucks across the street more crowded than the one in the hotel. There was some alcohol-induced hooliganism at a vendor’s party, but most of the other social mixers seemed uniformly tame.
Part of Dan Patrick’s syndicated radio show features a “What Did We Learn Today?” segment, and that inquiry seems fitting for this year’s LegalTech.
First of all, the prognostications about buzzwords were spot on, with no shortage of cycles spent on predictive coding (aka Technology Assisted Review). The general session on Monday, hosted by Symantec, had close to a thousand attendees on the edge of their seats to hear Judge Peck, Maura Grossman and Ralph Losey wax eloquently about the ongoing man versus machine debate. Judge Peck uttered a number of quotable sound bites, including the quote of the day: “Keyword searching is absolutely terrible, in terms of statistical responsiveness.” Stay tuned for a longer post with more comments from the General session.
Ralph Losey went one step further when commenting on keyword search, stating: “It doesn’t work,… I hope it’s been discredited.” A few have commented that this lambasting may have gone too far, and I’d tend to agree. It’s not that keyword search is horrific per se. It’s just that its efficacy is limited and the hubris of the average user, who thinks eDiscovery search is like Google search, is where the real trouble lies. It’s important to keep in mind that all these eDiscovery applications are just like tools in the practitioners’ toolbox and they need to be deployed for the right task. Otherwise, the old saw (pun intended) that “when you’re a hammer everything looks like a nail” will inevitably come true.
This year’s show also finally put a nail in the coffin of the human review process as the eDiscovery gold standard. That doesn’t mean that attorneys everywhere will abandon the linear review process any time soon, but hopefully it’s becoming increasingly clear that the “evil we know” isn’t very accurate (on top of being very expensive). If that deadly combination doesn’t get folks experimenting with technology assisted review, I don’t know what will.
Information governance was also a hot topic, only paling in comparison to Predictive Coding. A survey Symantec conducted at the show indicated that this topic is gaining momentum, but still has a ways to go in terms of action. While 73% of respondents believe an integrated information governance strategy is critical to reducing information risk, only 19% have implemented a system to help them with the problem. This gap presumably indicates a ton of upside for vendors who have a good, attainable information governance solution set.
The Hilton still leaves much to be desired as a host location. As they say, familiarity breeds contempt, and for those who’ve notched more than a handful of LegalTech shows, the venue can feel a bit like the movie Groundhog Day, but without Bill Murray. Speculation continues to run rampant about a move to the Javits Center, but the show would likely need to expand pretty significantly before ALM would make the move. And, if there ever was a change, people would assuredly think back with nostalgia on the good old days at the Hilton.
Despite the bright lights and elevator advertisement trauma, the mood seemed pretty ebullient, with tons of partnerships, product announcements and consolidation. This positive vibe was a nice change after the last two years when there was still a dark cloud looming over the industry and economy in general.
Finally, this year’s show also seemed to embrace social media in a way that it hadn’t done so in years past. Yes, all the social media vehicles were around in years past, but this year many of the vendors’ campaigns seemed to be much more integrated. It was funny to see even the most technically resistant lawyers log in to Twitter (for the first time) to post comments about the show as a way to win premium vendor swag. Next year, I’m sure we’ll see an even more pervasive social media influence, which is a bit ironic given the eDiscovery challenges associated with collecting and reviewing social media content.
As we approach LegalTech New York next week, oft referred to as the Super Bowl of legal technology events, there are any number of helpful blogs and articles telling new attendees what to expect, where to go, what to say, what to do. Undoubtedly, there’s some utility to this approach, but since we’ll be in New York, I think it’s appropriate to take a more skeptical approach and proffer a list of what *NOT* to do at LTNY.
DON’T get a coffee at the Hilton Starbucks. Yes, we all love our morning coffee, but there’s no need to wait in the Justin Bieber-esque line queue at the in-hotel Starbucks. There are approximately 49 locations in a ½ mile radius, including one right across the street. There’s also the vendor giving out free coffee on the second floor, so save yourself 30 minutes of needless line waiting.
DON’T ride the Hilton elevator. For those staying or taking meetings at the Hilton, the elevator lines can be excessively long. Once you finally get on, you’ll wish they’d been even longer as you then find yourself subjected to the brainwashing of vendor announcements while you make multiple stops on your way to your desired floor. Either take the stairs or, if that’s not possible, try to minimize the trips to keep your sanity. Or, plan B – bring your iPod.
DON’T talk to booth models. It’s temptingto gravitate to the most attractive person at a given vendor’s booth, but they’re often hired professionals designed to get you in for the all-important “badge scan.” Instead, focus on the person who looks like they’ve been in the same company-branded oxford for 48 hours, because they probably have. While perhaps less aesthetically pleasing, they’ll certainly know more about the product and that’s why you’re there after all, isn’t it?
DON’T pass out your resume on the show floor. While certainly a great networking opportunity, LTNY isn’t the place to blatantly tout your professional wares, at least if you want to keep your nascent job search on the down low. And, if you want to have more private meetings, you’ll need to do better than “hiding out” at the Warwick across the street. For more clandestine purposes, think about the Bronx.
DON’T take tchotchkes without hearing the spiel. There are certain tchotchke hounds out there who roam around LTNY collecting “gifts” for the kids back at home. While I won’t frown on this behavior per se, it’s only courteous to actually listen to the pitch (as a quid pro quo) before you ask for the swag. Anything less is uncivilized.
DON’T get over-served at the B-Discovery Party. After a long day on the show floor you’re probably ready to let loose with some of the eDiscovery practitioners you haven’t seen in a year. But, in this era of flip cams and instant tweeting, letting your hair down too much can be career limiting. If you haven’t done Jägermeister shots since college, LTNY probably isn’t a good time to resume that dubious practice.
DON’T forget to take your badge off (please!). Yes, it’s cool to let everyone know you’re attending the premier legal technology event of the year, but once you leave the show floor random New Yorkers will heckle you for sporting your badge after hours – particularly the baristas at Starbucks. Plus, if you’ve broken any of the other admonitions above, at least you’ll be more anonymous.
DON’T forget to bring a heavy coat, mittens and scarf. Last year there was the infamous ice storm that stranded folks for days (me included). Even if the weather isn’t that severe this year, anyone from warmer climates will need to bundle up, particularly because it’s easy to unintentionally get caught outside for extended amounts of time – waiting for a cab in the Hilton queue, eating at Symantec’s free food cart, walking to a meeting at a “nearby” hotel that’s “just a block or so away.” Keep in mind those cross town blocks are longer than they appear on a map.
DON’T forget to learn something. Without hyperbole, LTNY has the world’s greatest collection of legal/technology minds in one place for 3 days. Most folks, even the vaunted panelists, judges and industry luminaries are actually quite accessible. So, at a minimum, attend sessions, ask questions and interact with your peers. Try to ignore the bright lights and signs on the floor and make sure to take some useful information back to your firm, company or governmental agency. You’ll undoubtedly have fun (and maybe a Jagermeister shot, too) along the way.
For years, concept search in electronic discovery has been like concept cars at auto shows: Cool. Slick. The thing that everyone is talking about.
But not ready to move to the assembly line and be put into production.
Like a concept car, concept search has been based on a lot of good ideas and shown a lot of promise. However, it has failed to move beyond a few edge use cases and reach mass adoption in the e-discovery market. Why is this the case?
It’s not been because it’s an unproven idea or that the basic technology hasn’t been available. In fact, the core algorithm that underlies most existing concept search technologies has actually been around since 1988, when latent semantic analysis (LSA) was first patented by a team from Bell Labs. Over the last 20 years, dozens if not hundreds of companies have sprung up to apply concept search to the broad area of enterprise search and to e-discovery in particular.
To understand why concept search has never taken off, it’s always interesting to look for parallels, and the parallel du jour is social networking. Readers of David Kirkpatrick’s excellent book The Facebook Effect and (perhaps to a lesser, more fictionalized extent) viewers of the movie The Social Network understand that Facebook was far from the first social networking site (remember MySpace? You won’t admit it, but I know you do). But, despite being several years late to the party, Facebook somehow took the core of the social networking idea and presented it to users in a way that really allowed it to “cross the chasm” to the mainstream market.
In introducing Transparent Concept Search, Clearwell plans to help conceptual search cross that same chasm in e-discovery. In talking to customers over the last couple of years, we have found that there are unmet customer needs with existing concept search products that, once addressed, will really allow its use in e-discovery to flourish – and not just in a way that makes concept search marginally more useful, but, a la Facebook, makes it orders of magnitude more useful.
What are these unmet customer needs?
Ease of use: Historically, concept search has been relatively easy to use in the strictest sense of the word – you type in some terms that represent your concept, and you get a set of search results back, along with some related terms and/or clusters of related documents. Simple, right? The issue is that in most cases that’s not what the user really wants to do. Because concept search is inherently “fuzzy”, users want to be able to refine their concept based on the feedback that they got from their initial search. Concept search, just like keyword search, is an iterative process, and prior-generation technologies have not allowed for that form of iteration. In contrast, Clearwell’s Transparent Concept Search allows concepts to be defined and refined in a way that is intuitive, visual, and (don’t take my word for it, but try it for yourself) fun.
Precision: Traditional concept search increased recall when compared to just keyword search, but it came at the cost of precision. The refinement process facilitated by Clearwell’s Transparent Search addresses this issue by allowing intelligent human input to guide the concept search process. You get the best of both the recall and precision worlds with vastly diminished time and effort.
Defensibility: Even more important than ease of use and precision is defensibility. Defensibility, for those new to the term, isn’t so much about whether the way the algorithms work is known and able to be understood. They are, and aren’t that complicated. Rather, defensibility is about reasonableness: was the concept search a reasonable way of determining which documents are responsive? Without the ability to define your concept in an interactive manner, we believe that the answer has historically been “no”, making concept search nice in theory but unusable in actual legal practice. Transparent Concept Search promises to change that. The end result is a more defensible search process that yields both greater recall and greater precision, enabling users to more quickly analyze case facts, rapidly identify key documents that may have been missed, eliminate irrelevant documents, and prioritize the most relevant documents for review. Clearwell also provides a reporting and auditing feature to document your search, allowing you to improve defensibility by “proving up” what was done.
Low cost: Finally, never underestimate the value of “free” in helping meet the ever-important unmet need of cost predictability and control. Historically, vendors have charged price premiums (often substantial) for concept search. Trying to charge a premium in e-discovery for something that doesn’t fully meet the customer use case and isn’t defensible, and it’s a recipe for low adoption. However, provide a highly useable, effective, and defensible capability as part of the core functionality of today’s leading e-discovery platform, and it starts to look very attractive indeed.
Hopefully you can tell that we’re incredible excited about the promise that this technology holds for the market, and this initial version is really just the beginning. Want to see it for yourself? Check out the video below, visit our web site or, if you are in New York this week, please visit us at LegalTech New York – we would love to see you.
At LegalTech New York there was still considerable discussion about ECA, which I of course assumed meant early case assessment. And, while I have a good idea of what ECA means in the practice of electronic discovery, it struck me that many electronic discovery vendors were making up definitions to suit their own needs. So, in a search for the one true meaning I began my search in earnest.
First, I went to Wikipedia. Apparently ECA can stand for a whole host of things, including:
After a brief diversion into the mandate of the European Cockpit Association I decided that Wikipedia wasn’t the answer. Then I came across a pretty illustrative post from the Settlement Perspectives blog. There, the author struggles with the same quest and ultimately concludes that an early case assessment is a “disciplined, proactive case management approach designed to assemble, within 60 days, enough of the facts, law, and other information relevant to a dispute to evaluate the matter, to develop a litigation strategy, and to formulate a settlement plan if appropriate.”
While this 60 day window initially seems reasonable, I’d wager that the timeline can be exponentially more aggressive, especially for practitioners leveraging next generation search and analytical tools…
As an example, let’s assume a fairly broad collection of relevant electronically stored information (ESI) where counsel wisely iterates on their search strategy to divine 80 percent of the significant case facts. This process could and should occur with 60 hours, much less 60 days. Not only is this compressed time frame dramatic in terms of moving the window from two months down to one week, but in reality an ECA needs to be done this quickly in order to facilitate preparation for the newly accelerated meet & confer conferences, as well as providing counsel with the insights to develop a settlement posture before the parties have become entrenched for expensive and protracted litigation.
We live in a time where information is now presumed to be instantly available. While perception isn’t quite yet reality, it’s incumbent upon modern litigants to have real case data available within days, if not hours, from the inception of litigation. Since the opposition probably has a significant jump start on the facts (since they filed the lawsuit), the defendant doesn’t have the luxury of taking two months to determine 80% of the relevant facts.
“Unless I’m wrong, and I’m never wrong…” this means that counsel should be conducting ECAs in nearly every case. It should be “must have” instead of a nice to have. However, anecdotal evidence suggestions that ECAs aren’t performed routinely today. The question is why?
Aside from the educational component and the use of old school, brute force review methodologies, the answer may lie in a common litigation mindset: i.e., the desire to avoid costs for as long as possible. Even in the Settlement Perspective piece the author admits to this mindset: “I would prefer to avoid ‘all the major work’ on a case if I can.” While he doesn’t seem to lump data analytics into this camp, this pervasive notion is still readily apparent.
In order to make the sea change where ECA is a standard operating procedure in every matter, counsel must understand that while some costs are incurred early in the process the benefits are crystal clear: i.e., determining customized case strategies early in the matter to decide whether to fight or settle. Similarly, corporate clients must recognize that the benefits outweigh the costs and require their litigation counsel to include this process in every significant matter. Failure to do so merely widens the rapidly growing information gap, leads to uniformed case decisions and heightens confusion with the European Cockpit Association.
If you have been to LegalTech before, you know that – by the end of the day – you could use a nice stiff drink to recover. So why not do it with some company? We (Aaref, Dean, Kurt, and Will) will be at the Bridges Bar at the Hilton at 7pm, and we are happy to buy drinks for the first 50 E-Discovery 2.0 readers who join us (we will have a big E-Discovery 2.0 sign on our table, so feel free to just stop by and introduce yourself). It’s a great way to meet us, suggest ideas for what we should cover on the blog, and get warmed up before going to the B-Discovery event later that evening.
Come early though. We mentioned the idea to Brandon, who runs the E-Discovery 2.0 group on LinkedIn, and he invited his group to arrive shortly after, so the seats (and the drinks!) may go fast.
Hello from Los Angeles, where the weather’s fine and summer’s in full swing! Accordingly, a few of us in the legal technology community spent the night before LegalTech enjoying a Dodger’s game hosted by LTN editor-in-chief and rabid Yankees fan Monica Bay (outfitted in full Yankee regalia for the occasion). So as to not incur Monica’s wrath, I left my Red Sox cap at home.
At the game, I happened to sit next to a colleague from another vendor who mentioned that her firm is about to celebrate twenty years in e-discovery.
Twenty years! What a remarkable milestone for any company. It got me wondering about how much technology has evolved over that time period, and raised an interesting question to noodle over between innings: With all of the investment and innovation in the e-discovery space, who’s actually winning the electronic data discovery tug of war, twenty years in?
What is the e-discovery tug of war, you ask? Let’s start with the scene in 1988.
On one side, the documents: They stared at you from across the mud puddle — hundreds or even thousands of boxes stacked one of top of another, hauled out from a warehouse where they’d spent their days, against their will, in windowless solitude, ready for battle. They were ticked.
And on the other side, you: With your new IBM PS/2 Model 80 (the best money could buy: 640×480 VGA color screen, 16mhz 386 processor, 80MB hard drive), flatbed scanner, and some new DOS-based database program called “Concordance.” To add insult to injury, Starbucks hadn’t even really gone national yet, so you were probably stuck with a jar of instant coffee to try to stay awake.
You didn’t stand a chance.
From then until now, two different dynamics have played against each other, pulling the flag back and forth over the dividing line:
On one side, the explosive growth of electronic documents has been truly mind-boggling. From a baseline of close to zero in 1988 (WordPerfect 5.1 wasn’t introduced until 1989), today essentially every single business document is created, transmitted, and stored electronically.
On the other side, technology innovators in the e-discovery space have used creativity and a large dose of Moore’s Law to store, process, and search electronic documents with ever-increasing speed and efficiency.
During the seventh inning stretch, with the Dodgers holding a commanding lead over the White Sox, I thought: Maybe technology is about to win.
Here’s the argument: Assuming that the creation of document content will still largely be human-driven, now that most every legally significant class of communication is being created and managed on-line, growth of e-discovery-relevant data volumes may quickly move from being exponential (when everything was “going digital”) to a rate driven more by productivity improvements and economic growth. Improvements in processing, search, and analysis of documents, however, will continue to improve at a Moore’s Law pace for the foreseeable future, presumably making it fairly trivial for advanced e-discovery technologies to outmuscle their longtime adversary.
Google shows some evidence of this victory of technology over data. Remember that just a few years back, search engines frequently trumpeted how much of the Internet they were able to index – and it was far from the whole thing. Today, that’s largely a solved problem. It’s simply amazing how quickly Google’s index ingests new data, often in what seems like a matter of minutes. In fact, I dare say that by the time you read this post, you’ll be able to perform a Google search on some of its content and have it come up front-and-center in your search results. Amazing.
What does this mean for electronic data discovery? The best e-discovery technologies will change to solve challenges that are far more strategic in nature. Instead of focusing on how fast and effectively they can process documents, or how quickly they can allow attorneys to review them, they’ll provide powerful capabilities for addressing some of the most important e-discovery problems that inside and outside counsel face, such as:
How do I craft robust, defensible search strategies for my cases while minimizing e-discovery costs?
How can I standardize a repeatable, high-quality discovery process that’s executed consistently across my organization?
How can my organization become more proactive in identifying potential legal risks and liabilities based on our company’s “legal history”?
I’m sure you can come up with a number of others. What do you think – is the war against documents over, and electronic data discovery ready to move to a new phase? Or are there still many more battles to be fought?
We are a group of "e-discovery geeks" whose passion is creating the world's greatest e-discovery software. We spend our days working on live cases with enterprises, law firms, and service providers to help them with their e-discovery issues. The goal of this blog is to share our thoughts about e-discovery and encourage discussion among like-minded e-discovery enthusiasts.