As the season approaches turkey and mistletoe, predictions for the new year are inevitable. Last year we outlined ten trends for eDiscovery in 2009 as described by Clearwell Systems. Their outlook mostly proved true as corporations did indeed take matters into the own hands and implement in-house ediscovery platforms, and the global economic downturn drove global eDiscovery initiatives.

And though we might not have seen as many companies figure out how to manage the new media of business communication, it has definitely been on their minds.

So this year, we turn once again to Clearwell to outline the eDiscovery trends of 2010. The fact that there are only five may indicate the growth and awareness of eDiscovery in the enterprise. As well, they touch on the functionality and technology of eDiscovery more than anything.

So without further adieu, CMSWire presents Clearwell's Top Five eDiscovery Trends of 2010.

Top 5 eDiscovery Trends of 2010

1. Early case assessment (ECA)

Over the past few months, we’ve covered a great deal about the benefits of early case assessment. Dean Gonsowski, VP E-Discovery Services at Clearwell Systems says that ECA will move from a “nice to have” to a “must have” requirement of any matter involving electronically stored information (ESI) due to the low cost of analysis and advancements in eDiscovery technology.

2. Technology-Lead Initiatives

As companies finally understand the complexity of eDiscovery and that there isn’t an “easy button” for implementing it, more energy will be dedicated to finding and building a better tool so that eDiscovery platforms can be implemented easier.

3. eDiscovery gets Project Managed

As eDiscovery tools become more sophisticated and require less technical know-how, the role of an in-house eDiscovery coordinator will emerge as more of a project management and analyst versus pure legal or IT.

4. Data Analytics Set Benchmarks

Data analytics will go from a theoretical to practical task as eDiscovery tools increasingly move in-house and departments enhance defensibility and add elements like sampling into the workflow.

Gonsowski thinks that companies will be asked to defend their statistics and data samples, making the keywords companies use to search statistically-defendable.

5. A Single eDiscovery Platform

Specific eDiscovery solutions will continue to become more comprehensive and move to platforms, thus requiring less information hand-offs between individual point solutions, cutting costs and lowering the risk of data loss. As eDiscovery emerges as an in-house tool, companies are realizing the benefit of having to manage all their data in one place.

Though Gonsowski is optimistic there will be more demand for single platforms, he’s uncertain as to whether the industry will see more deployments of actual platforms.

eDiscovery Goes Social

While it didn’t make it into the trending topics for 2010, social media finds itself woven through many, if not all of the items listed above. Social media is bound to consume both the legal and technical areas of eDiscovery because of its ambiguity and ubiquitous nature. How exactly will companies go about capturing information disseminated across multiple social media platforms is anyone’s guess.

Gonsowski seems to think that the need to capture the data will lead many companies to ban communication across social networks, like Twitter and Facebook in an effort to assert control. In fact, according to the 6th Annual Litigation Trends Survey Report by Fulbright & Jaworski, many industries have already begun to do so.

They report that the insurance and financial services are the most active blockers of social media web sites, including Facebook, MySpac, Bebo, Linkedin, Plaxo, Twitter and You Tube. One-third of financial service companies have no restrictions, about the same as the energy and health care sectors, while the most liberal sector for social networking is technology/communications, with more than half reporting no restrictions.

Looking Ahead  

With 2010 a mere two months away, eDiscovery will continue to evolve to meet the demands of the legal community while becoming more functional for the companies that employ it.

Do you agree/disagree? Let us know what you think eDiscovery will bring in the new year.