In his column, “E-Discovery: The Dying Art of Early Case Assessment,” attorney Matthew Prewitt opined that the high stakes of eDiscovery were transforming the traditional idea of smart “early case assessment” (ECA) by trial lawyers into nothing more than an exercise in litigation data management.
Many experts tell us that Mr. Prewitt was right on the money. While a number of major litigation software vendors – LexisNexis included – developed very good ECA tools for their customers, the truth is that the utility of these products in the eDiscovery workflow was too often limited to managing litigation holds and serving as a culling mechanism to cut down the number of files pushed into the eDiscovery workflow.
The good news for litigators is that we’re now turning the corner on the linear approach to eDiscovery and early case assessment is playing the critical role in this new way of thinking.
To be sure, an effective ECA effort should help legal professionals identify data right away and narrow down the volume of electronic files to just the potentially relevant items in order to reduce the scope (and costs) of eDiscovery.
But the real strategic benefit of ECA comes when it’s able to help litigation teams actually visualize the pertinent facts of a case earlier in the process and gain insights that help them shape litigation strategy, according to Krista Fuller, director of product management for litigation solutions with the LexisNexis software and technology business.
For example, a new eDiscovery platform that emphasizes the role of early case assessment and smart review is able to give eDiscovery an unprecedented boost and resurrect the dying art of ECA.
Mr. Prewitt’s article from four years ago accurately forecast the narrow approach to ECA that software tools would bring to eDiscovery in the years that followed. But things are changing if you look in the right places.
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