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The Complexity of eDiscovery Amid the Evolution of Technology

The Complexity of eDiscovery Amid the Evolution of Technology

Note:  The following is a guest post by Jessica Solano, a litigation technical consultant with the LexisNexis litigation solutions team.

Do you remember when your imagination used to dream how our lives would easier if with a few modern conveniences?  Did you dream of jet-setting to different planets, living like the Jetsons with a robotic maid, or teleporting your objects like Star Trek?

With the increasing innovations of technology, those all don’t sound too unrealistic. We have come a long way, but what does it mean for eDiscovery in the next 10 years?

Not too long ago, eDiscovery wasn’t even a “thing” – where today it’s a billion dollar industry that continues to evolve.  The advent of eDiscovery came on the heels of technology innovation because the legal community needed a way to process and standardize a massive amount of electronic files so that they can be reviewed more efficiently.

For litigation professionals, daily habits and the way we work have changed dramatically over just the last few years.  Attorneys and paralegals are inquiring more about the cloud, how to work from just their IPad so that they can be more mobile, and raising questions about smart coding or machine review.

Today, the much of our business communications are conducted on mobile phones, but the impact reaches far deeper:  our social and personal habits have changed as well.

Today, all ages utilize social media.  There’s a whole swirl of new social media sites ranging from Twitter and YouTube to Instagram and Snapchat.

More importantly, social media, and the data derived from these applications, are now being used as evidence in court.  If moving from paper to electronic files wasn’t hard enough to tackle, there’s an enormous volume of new data sources that could also prove litigious.

How will eDiscovery conform amid this explosion of data?

  • Evolving eDiscovery workflow. We can see potentially changes across the EDRM model.  As the volume of data increases, programmers and vendors are exploring means to simplify a complex process. Will new products be invented to make processing or reviewing these types of files easier?  What new legal processes will have to approved or documented in regards to the laws of court?
  • Social, mobile and BYOD. Consumption habits are changing.  For example, people are increasingly turning to smartphones to keep up with the news, communicated and even publish content.  How do we preserve and process text messages, emails, pages from social media accounts, video files from Instagram and Snapchat accounts (which are designed to disappear), and other relevant data from other phone apps? How will we manage unsupported file types from within various operating environments? How do we ensure the quality of the data? Can we retrieve text or sound from that data? How will it be imported and exported? Can we convert them into PDF or image files that can then be shown in court?
  • New roles, functions or departments? Large law firms that have a litigation eDiscovery support departments solely dedicated for preparing data for review.  It takes an army with the right tools to sift through gigabytes of data.  Will new departments have to be created; will there be a position or team for just handling social media or online eDiscovery?  Who would be considered qualified? Will new certifications arise?
  • Data quality assurance and control. Those working in eDiscovery can probably attest – a screenshot of a text conversation requires interpretation.  For example, who is associated with the bubbles on the left or right – whose words do the bubbles actually represent?  Can we apply our current technology, such as deduplication, near-duplication and threading, to these new file types? Will group text messages have to show the same type of threading?  How do we assure the quality of the data? How do we secure the data?  How do we make sure the data is accurate?  How do we manage all of the bug fixes and upgrades of these apps to remain compatible with the processing and review software we continually create?
  • Impact on court room presentations. Will our presentation tools in court change? Will we implement a feature that will make text messaging or snap chat videos more animated in court or create a plug-in for these applications like we do with depositions and electronic documents?

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Technology evolution affects eDiscovery from a myriad of perspectives – from paralegal and attorney – to IT, investigator and judge. The Jetsons-esque interconnectivity of everyday appliances to the web will provide additional details important in litigation, as Monica Bay has suggested. Those details will be so large in volume, technology is the only way to process, analyze and include relevant facts to prove a case.

Where do you think we will be in the next 10 years in the EDiscovery industry?

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Ms. Solano is part of a client services team that contributes to the LexisNexis University Blog.

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Contributing Writer
This bio page is used to publish submissions by contributing writers. We welcome contributions from the legal community and are especially keen for contributions from our customers. Please review previous submissions published here and the “About Us” section to get a sense for what topics work for this blog. All posts must be original content not published elsewhere for at least 30 days. To submit an idea for consideration, please email blsssocial@lexisnexis.com.