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The Continuing Trend of Moving E-Discovery Operations In-House

Created on November 15, 2019

Vice President, E-Discovery

Perhaps one of the more understated statistics from Exterro’s 2019 In-House Benchmarking Report pertains to the growth of internal e-discovery teams. Over the last five years that we’ve been surveying legal professionals, we’ve seen a mostly steady climb in both the number of e-discovery teams established within corporate legal departments and the size of those teams. This year’s survey indicated that 50% of in-house legal departments now have an on-site e-discovery team.

Considering e-discovery is now an estimated $10 to $17 billion industry, this may not be all that surprising. But the more dramatic proliferation has been with IT assisting in e-discovery operations. Compared to last year, there’s been a five-fold increase in the number of teams with a dedicated IT services group assisting legal departments, up to 60% this year from only 11% last year.

Following this trend, in-house counsel has increased their usage of e-discovery collection and processing technology from 44% in 2018 to 51% in 2019, which indicates that, more and more, legal teams are onboard with the legal innovation bandwagon. And in terms of creating efficiency and reducing legal costs, e-discovery collection and processing software was ranked as the second-most useful legal technology.

Interestingly, most teams haven’t found a way to create a more efficient document/data review environment, even with the availability of technology assisted review (TAR) that utilizes machine learning. But soon, legal teams may be involved in reviewing personally identifiable information (PII) for data subject access requests as a result of privacy regulations like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). This expands the use of review technology beyond just e-discovery, which makes it a stronger investment—but only 45% of the legal departments surveyed utilize review technology.

To get more great information about how in-house legal teams are organizing their resources, download our full 2019 In-House Benchmarking Report.