Survey Highlights the Need for Education in E-Discovery

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Within the short span of a decade, we’ve seen a huge change in the way in which documentary evidence is evaluated and gathered in the context of litigation.

E-discovery is paving the way for the future and rapidly becoming a necessary part of all court of law cases. Many of the perceived notions regarding e-discovery haven’t kept up with the pace at which the technology itself has advanced, however. In a recent survey compiled by HBR Consulting, the resulting data highlights some interesting points regarding the perceived advancements and developments in e-discovery.

One of the most interesting data points found in the results is a direct graphical comparison of two points. Within the past 20 years, the perceived value of reviewing documents has declined while the complexity of delivering this service has increased by a substantial amount. This suggests that e-discovery still contains many challenges for law firms despite technological advances. Another recent consultation survey, conducted by Exterro, echoes this fact. For firms that find e-discovery challenging, any type of system with rapid technological advancements can seem understandably daunting.

For most law firms interviewed in the survey, the cost factor of e-discovery still remains one of the greatest challenges. For 71 percent of those firms, spending remains a high, essential or medium priority. Efforts to automate processes and improve document review times have helped reduce the costs of e-discovery, but many clients still remain hesitant to front the costs of all necessary processes.

The reason for that hesitance, in most cases, seems to correspond with the data point noted above regarding perceived value. If the general public isn’t aware of how e-discovery works and how vital it is, legal clients aren’t always willing to front the costs for it. One way to help build awareness is to educate. If clients are guided through the processes of e-discovery and better understand how it directly aids their cases, more will be willing to help pay for the costs. Better cross-matter reporting and analyzing will also help firms and technology consultants educate attorneys, staff members and clients.

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Along with the above two suggested innovations, the survey’s data also suggests that concentrating on enhancing and upgrading document review technology can help law firms and their clients better adapt to the changes made in e-discovery, thus easing some of the difficulty in keeping up with the technology. Utilizing predictive coding and legal hold management technology can also help firms adapt to new technologies that make e-discovery easier to navigate.

Making technology initiatives like these help firms reduce the amount of time spent on e-discovery as well as help create a consistent, reliable system that can be repeated for similar cases. Consistent processes not only help streamline e-discovery (and therefore reduce the overall costs), but also help reduce any potential margin for error. A reliable, error-free e-discovery system helps clients and attorneys both gain trust in the technology which serves to lessen any noticeable challenges. Phillip Hampton

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