The evolution of ediscovery has shifted quite a bit in the last twenty years, and, even more so in the last five. It is more imperative than ever to stay up-to-date and be aware of how those changes may impact your ediscovery process and bottom line.
Twenty years ago, ediscovery did not exist. Lawyers leafed through catacombs of documents stored in bankers’ boxes, tagging them with a sticky note when they seemed relevant to their case. Electronic data was printed and put into those same boxes.
Ten years ago, as digital documents became increasingly common, law firms first began to deploy electronic tools to process them, and ediscovery was born. Version 1.0 was primitive, converting electronic data into static images, which lawyers could leaf through on a computer, rather than in a box.
Five years ago, paper document discovery became all but extinct, and intelligent technology began to challenge the page-by-page review model. Terms like “analytics,” “technology-assisted review,” “predictive coding,” and “email threading” started rolling off the tongues of ediscovery salespeople, promising to tame the relentless tide of electronic data.
Between 2011 and 2016, version 2.0 technologies inventoried a file, determined the type of file, opened its native application, extracted the text and metadata, copied those contents to a new location, and copied the metadata to a SQL table. This was done largely on one computer, yet this process failed to displace the massive page-by-page review of electronic data. Even now, document review represents 75 percent of the ediscovery industry’s revenue.
Today, business data is growing at a mind-numbing pace. According to a recent IDC study, the world’s total amount of stored data quadrupled from 2 to 8 zettabytes (or 8 trillion gigabytes) between 2011 and 2015. Not surprisingly, according to a recent Forrester study, the percentage of CIOs viewing a robust ediscovery program as critically important rose from 18 percent to 48 percent over the same period. Page-by-page review is not only infeasible at those growing volumes, it is downright risky.
But the industry is only part of the way toward where it needs to be. Call it version 2.5. Modern ediscovery technology horizontally scales and accesses many files at once via distributed computing. A set of data with millions of documents would have taken months to process in a first generation ediscovery application. Today, we can process that data set less than a day, presenting lawyers with the relevant set of perhaps a few hundred documents much more quickly.
While the benefits of this increased efficiency are enormous, the costs of ediscovery are still too high. That is a significant change from previous innovations like court reporting, projectors, photo copiers, and fax machines. Those advances not only accelerated and improved discovery, they lowered its cost.
The mountains of data piling up continue to create new challenges, but also new opportunities. Here are some measures you can take to ensure your company and colleagues are up-to-date and prepared prior to ediscovery:
1. Implement a Playbook: As data volumes continue to grow exponentially it is key to understand the strengths and weakness of your ediscovery program and ensure that you have a proactive plan in place. Talk to your ediscovery provider today and form a solid plan prior to the next round of ediscovery.
2. Apply Standards: Be sure to create consistent rules and regulations across all of your ediscovery processes and have a plan for implementation and upkeep.
3. Embrace Technology: Stay up-to-date with the latest innovations to create efficiencies and control cost.
eDiscovery is improving dramatically year after year, allowing attorney review and analysis to begin much sooner and more efficiently, with a finely tuned data set that enables better decision-making. We are confident that the next steps in ediscovery’s evolution are underway and we are open to chat more. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.