08 Mar 2011

E-Discovery Discovered by Newspaper of Record

Posted in: Tuesday Trends No Comments

Sarah Brown

If you crawl under a rock on the weekends, then you may have missed the Newspaper of Record, aka the New York Times, finally acknowledging the existence of electronic discovery Sunday.

The article covered electronically stored information (ESI) and legal technology, with the “hook” that this technology has taken jobs away from otherwise highly-paid attorneys. But is this true? The article begins:

“(in the past, discovery included fees for paying) a platoon of lawyers and paralegals who worked for months at high hourly rates. But … now, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, “e-discovery” software can analyze documents in a fraction of the time for a fraction of the cost.”

Firstly, we here at E-Discovery Beat would like to snicker just a little bit at the use of quotation marks around the phrase “e-discovery” in the article. Since we traffic in all things electronic discovery-related, sometimes we forget that the idea is new to non-e-discovery nerds.

Secondly, while it may be true that contract work for attorneys is dwindling because of electronic discovery software, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Ralph Losey over at E-Discovery Team and Gregory Bufithis at The Posse List certainly disagree:

Losey’s reaction:

“The latest e-discovery software is good news for the profession. It frees lawyers from much of the drudgery of e-discovery. It frees us from wasting our time reading too many emails and the like. But, at the same time, it also creates new work, much more highly skilled work. It requires lawyers to retool, to learn new skills, to learn new law, new methods, such as the creation of metric based arguments, the use of iterative sampling methods, subject matter expert consultations and search adaptations, aggressive transparency techniques and strategic cooperation methods. Sure, the new software may take away 1980s type work of reading mountains of paper, but it creates other more interesting work.”

Bufithis’ reaction:

”The first task in any transition to to understand the technology. All of us have been exposed to some of the technical hurdles that litigation support teams face, but you need a deeper understanding of them. One way to do that is learn how data is processed for a case.”

Bufithis goes on to exhort his readers to learn to bridge the gap between IT and legal, as well as pick up skills no computer will ever be able to master. E-discovery project management, for example, will always be a critical need at companies facing litigation. I hope that now that the NYTimes is on the bandwagon, more attorneys and technologists will begin to realize the need – and vast career growth potential – for e-discovery project managers, and e-discovery project management.

Constituents that can understand both technology and legal processes are worth their weight in gold to companies with high volumes of litigation. The critical importance of applying project management principles to electronic discovery is why so many of Exterro’s clients have invested in litigation project management software. E-discovery project management software, processes and personnel reduces the costs of e-discovery projects, which in turn proves the value of e-discovery project managers to their bosses.

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