eDiscovery Moving In House To Support Rise in Requests
The folks at Clearwell think that a storm is brewing in eDiscovery. A storm so perfect that it brings together increased data volumes, litigation, compliance standards and a growing need to cut costs, forcing companies to face their eDiscovery needs head on.

Like storm chasers who investigate the forces of nature, Clearwell wanted to learn more about the status of the eDiscovery. Enlisting help from the Enterprise Survey Group (ESG), Clearwell surveyed over 100 Fortune 2000 enterprises and government agencies and focused questions around the giant whirlwind of activities affecting eDiscovery in the enterprise.

The report, Trends in Electronic Discovery: A Market Perspective, found that companies are facing increases in the number of lawsuits, and regulatory inquiries. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said that they expect the number of lawsuits and regulatory inquiries they experience to increase in 2009 compared to 2008, with nearly half estimating the number to grow by at least 20%.

More Lawsuits + Financial Crisis = Increased Demand for eDiscovery

Are there more lawsuits because of the financial crisis? Or was the financial crisis a result of legal malpractice? Whatever the reason, its cause and effect relationship seems to have driven the increase in legal activity. 

Acknowledging the cause and effect is one thing, hatching a plan to deal with it is another. While companies are under pressure to reduce costs, the demand for technology purposefully designed to aid in certain electronic discovery tasks, puts IT specialists and legal teams in a peculiar position.

Yet, the report shows that companies have responded to the volume increase by hiring or repositioning more specialized staff. Twenty-two percent of the respondents carried the specific title of “Electronic Discovery Manager” and 87% of those surveyed plan to budget for technology that specifically supports the electronic discovery process

eDiscovery in the House

Bringing eDiscovery in house was a significant trend outlined in the survey. An overwhelming majority of respondents indicated that they wanted to bring the initial phases of the electronic discovery process, specifically identification and collection along with processing and analysis, in-house.

Companies surveyed demonstrated a readiness to address inefficiencies within their own electronic discovery processes and have active projects today to bring certain tasks in-house, while others (36%) stated such a plan will be in place over the next 12 months. In addition, 40% of companies are looking to bring aspects of ESI preservation and legal hold management tasks in-house.

Even with the pressure to reduce costs, companies have been persuaded to undertake two of the most significant processes of eDiscovery. The review process, which involves intense culling and searching for relevant data and ECA can be very costly. As well, the legal hold process, including identifying and collecting data, can carry the most risk if not executed properly.

What is the reward for tackling such costly and risky efforts? The report cites control. Companies can be in charge of the eDiscovery process, executing early case assessments to make critical decisions and save time, money and perhaps what’s left of their sanity.

eDiscovery is Not a Fad, Here to Stay

Ultimately the survey goes to show the legitimacy that eDiscovery has evolved over the the last 18 months. Once regarded as a luxury, companies now understand it to be a priority.

While companies may not yet be fully prepared to implement and execute complete eDiscovery processes, they are on their way. For now, they are only trying to stay a few steps ahead of the storm.