LegalTech 2008

Legal Tech 2008  starts today in New York City and looks to be not only an opportunity to meet and assess vendors of e-discovery and related information technology services but also a veritable clearinghouse of helpful information on e-discovery issues.  The schedule this year includes several interesting - and, doubtless, highly informative - panel presentations on key legal and technological issues relevant to e-discovery, including:

  • best practices for data storage, retention, identification, retrieval and review;
  • privilege issues particular to electronically-stored information;
  • issues implicated by offshore outsourcing of ESI review, including international ediscovery rules and standards;
  • readiness and strategic planning;
  • choosing an e-discovery platform;
  • cost management; and
  • particular evidentiary issues raised by ESI.

If you can't make New York in February (brrrrr), Legal Tech arrives in Los Angeles June 26-27, 2008.

Recent Surveys Illustrate Complexity of E-Discovery Compliance for U.S. Companies

The challenge of complying with e-discovery rules was illustrated in the results of two surveys released recently. A survey from Robert Half Legal, (a company specializing in attorney recruitment and placement) found that one in four lawyers in North America believe that e-discovery will have the single largest impact on the practice of law in the next five years. Why? According to Charles Volkert, Executive Director of Robert Half Legal, "the complexity and cost of the task, coupled with the associated information technology and human resource needs, make [e-discovery] a challenge."

Similarly, a survey published in eWeek.com  found that two-thirds of U.S. businesses are generally ignoring the issue of e-discovery.  According to the survey's author Michael Osterman, the companies, "are either ignoring the new federal mandates for compliance and e-discovery or are clearly not well educated on how to meet the technical requirements."

The results of these two surveys, at first glance appear somewhat contradictory. Are the majority of companies really ignoring the legal issue expected to have the largest impact in the near future? However, both surveys seem to point to the same problem, a lack of clarity in many companies on how to effectively and efficiently comply with e-discovery rules. 

The survey conducted by Robert Half indicates that e-discovery is expected to have such a large impact because of the complexity and expense of compliance. Likewise, in discussing the results of the survey in eWeek, Michael Osterman, stated that many companies are still unclear on the concept of e-discovery in general. "There really is no consensus yet on whether a company should keep all its e-mail and other docs, or whether a company should keep a finite number of years' worth of data, or whether it should keep more than 30 days' worth of data."

Time will tell whether e-discovery will be the largest issue facing the practice of law in the U.S. However, the actual impact will likely largely be effected by the current corporate response to e-discovery rules.