While last week’s LegalTech New York (LTNY) conference lasted just three days, the process of absorbing the plethora of information that came out of it will extend throughout the year. The E-Discovery Beat editors posted a number of session recaps and interviews throughout the show, and we will be posting even more in the coming days. While we couldn’t attend every session, the ones we were able to cover represented a good cross-section of this year’s hottest topics and trends in e-discovery and information governance.
Based on the discussion at the conference, here are some key take-aways from LTNY 2013:
1. As new players emerge, predictive technologies are already evolving.
During LTNY 2012, advocates of predictive coding passionately argued that the new technology represented the future of e-discovery review. This year, many of those same advocates took the discussion a step further by exploring the possibility of moving predictive technologies upstream to help identify and categorize information proactively. In fact, the topic came up in a number of sessions covering an array of topics. E-Discovery attorney and noted ‘predictive pundit’ Ralph Losey may have summed up the fluidity of predictive technology market best: “Those who are on top yesterday may not be on top tomorrow, and that’s the way it should be.”
2. Legal hold management remains a chief concern.
For those immersed in the legal industry, legal hold sort of feels like yesterday’s news. That’s why it came as a bit of a shock when Barry Murphy, lead analyst for eDJ Group, predicted 2013 to be the year of legal hold management. Despite all the attention paid to other emerging e-discovery topics, such as the cloud, big data and predictive technologies, legal hold still remains one of the most vexing e-discovery challenges. Moreover, a surprising number of large organizations still haven’t matured past the point of spreadsheets and emails, which are becoming increasingly incapable of supporting the complexities of a defensible legal hold process (e.g. periodic reminders, automatic re-issuance notices, custodian interviews, etc). So while legal hold might be a “classic” e-discovery problem, the need to solve the problem continues to be strong.
3. Stop the talking. Organizations need to begin implementing information governance plans.
One of the many things that have been sparked by the emergence of Big Data is an energized focus on information governance (IG). However, what became clear at LTNY ’13 is that while organizations have gotten very comfortable talking about IG and its importance, most have yet to actually adopt any sort of enforceable plan. In fact, when audience members were asked whether their companies had adopted a comprehensive IG strategy, not a single hand went up in a packed auditorium. The progress that is being made seems to be relegated to individual data repositories, namely email, and results have been mixed. For instance, many organizations that have applied auto email deletions after a certain number of days are learning that employees are very adept at working around the automated triggers (e.g. forwarding email messages to oneself seems to be among the popular tactics).
4. IT’s role in e-discovery continues to increase.
It is common knowledge that a successful e-discovery process involves at least some degree of collaboration between organizations’ legal and IT teams. The extent of this collaboration has always depended somewhat on the nature of the organization, the complexities of the internal infrastructure and makeup of the data environment. Many of the experts at LTNY suggested that we’re reaching a point where data has become so ubiquitous and disparate that IT’s role in e-discovery has become undeniably essential and must increase. Some organizations recognized this trend years ago and have already established processes that account for multidisciplinary teamwork. For many others, the idea of legal and IT (and other stakeholders, for that matter) working closely together represents a considerable but wholly necessary paradigm shift.
5. Predictive technologies are exciting but they aren’t an e-discovery panacea.
On many a session title and description, predictive technologies were described in one variation or another as the “future” of e-discovery. It’s one thing to be excited about a new and potentially revolutionary advancement. To be sure, the E-Discovery Beat is as enthused about the prospects of predictive as much as the next blog. But it’s important to remember that no technology, no matter how exciting, is a panacea. E-Discovery is and always will be a recurring business process involving many stakeholders and moving parts. The key is to define a process, establish the necessary workflows and deploy technologies that help automate and support that process as much as possible.
You can learn more about one of the prominent themes at LegalTech, Big Data and its impacts on e-discovery practices, by registering for tomorrow’s free Exterro webcast here.