E-discovery has been the hot topic in litigation and law firm expansion for a few years now. When reading this article last week I thought that perhaps the wow factor was fading from e-discovery and that the next big thing was around the corner.
I don’t think that the power of e-discovery is waning I just think that as the Legal Project Management article by Mr. Easton points out, it is a matter of standard business. Standard business is however, not always able to handle the complexities of e-discovery. The business model must adjust and experts outside of the firm may be needed on occasion.
Think about electronically stored information. Where is it, how is it accessed and how well are the standards of records management policies handling the diversity of storage and access methods?
Let’s take cloud computing as an example. Policies put in place for a traditional workplace where the employee creates, accesses and stores information within the company network are, in all likelihood, sufficient to protect the employer from adverse e-discovery management risks. However, workers do not always work within those constraints. In fact there’s a new book out talking about how to overcome the employer bureaucracy in order to increase work efficiency. (Author’s note: I’ve only read a review of the book, not the actual book so no affirmation of content beyond the review is presumed.)
Workers share files through cloud options such as Dropbox, or other similar services, they access materials for work purposes through personal mobile computing devices. They do work such as responding to emails, research and document drafting on their personal computing machines and then place that information in the cloud for easy access from work, home or play.
Add in factors such as companies using more cloud computing for storage and content backup and the world of e-discovery is given another layer of consideration. Time limits, storage limits and security are all issues related to cloud computing that impact e-discovery.
So while I think e-discovery is becoming a normal part of the business model for law firms, the related complexity is not completely understood. The shininess may be dulling but the onion like layers underneath the sheen of proper protection and preparation for an e-discovery request are seemingly endless. You might be able to cut it all up and dissect it but you can still peel a layer back for yet another issue.