Last Friday, I was delighted to participate in an interview with Tom O’Connor and Rachi Messing for their eDiscovery Channel podcast. Tom is currently the Director of the Gulf Coast Legal Technology Center, a nonprofit legal think tank. Rachi, after his years at Equivio and Microsoft, founded Altorney—providing an innovative and efficient new way to staff document review projects online. Tom, Rachi, and I have all been in the legal technology industry for many years, so it was fun to reminisce with them about the early days of e-discovery and how things have changed over the years. Among other things, the technology has improved substantially (driven by technologists like Rachi and thought leaders like Tom) and e-discovery has become a much bigger industry—not only with the growth of dedicated e-discovery practice groups in law firms, but also the growth of in-house e-discovery capabilities and increased accessibility of products and services offered by alternative legal service providers.
Still, despite what you might hear from the purveyors of the latest litigation technology, there is no “easy button” in e-discovery. No software, solution provider, or in-house product acquisition will suddenly or magically satisfy all a company’s, or law firm’s, e-discovery needs. Having an effective e-discovery and information governance program requires constant vigilance, investment, adaptation, and support, a combination of in-house and outside resources, and continued attention to changing rules and evolving case law. Those of us like Tom, Rachi, and yours truly, who work full-time in this industry, and are on the conference circuit, may have some advantages in keeping up, but even for us it is no easy task.
After a lively chat about the changes we have seen in the industry to date, the e-discovery app, and how to keep up in this constantly evolving field, the discussion naturally turned to the future of e-discovery. I will need to do some more thinking about that prior to November 3, when I am scheduled to co-present on that precise topic at the Everlaw Summit in San Francisco, with the Honorable Xavier Rodriguez and the esteemed Maura Grossman. In the meantime, I can offer at least a couple of predictions/aspirations:
- Further advances in technology will continue to accelerate litigation parties’ ability to find key evidence, despite the continued proliferation of data and data sources;
- Greater attention to proportionality considerations will result in more control of discovery and less wasted time and money on avenues not likely to help resolve disputed issues; and
- More and earlier involvement of e-discovery experts and special masters will help launch discovery properly from the outset of cases and reduce conflict, while also cutting time and costs.
May it be so!