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Walking the halls at ILTA it’s very clear how far the legal tech community has come. Wasn’t it just two years ago that vendors in the e-Discovery space were talking about how lawyers should get empowered to adapt new technologies into their workflow? And now, not only have they begun to adapt, they’re reshaping the landscape of legal tech.

This week, I’ve sat in on sessions that tackled practical issues of iPads v. laptops, wireless expectations and best practices for creating a mobile legal workforce. Even the conference itself launched a mobile app that helped attendees create their own agenda, submit session evaluations and network with each other.

By actively embracing and integrating cloud, mobile and social into legal technology applications, it’s hard to remember that it’s still about e-Discovery.

kCura and the Evolving State of Relativity

We had an opportunity to sit down with Nick Robertson, vice president, sales and marketing at kCura to talk about how the shift in the legal tech landscape is affecting how they approach case review.

Earlier this week, The Recorder placed kCura on its list of The Best Predictive Coding Solution Providers of 2012  (PDF) for its Relativity Assisted Review software. During ILTA, kCura offered demos of a few key components of Relativity -- Assisted Review, Ecosystem, Fact Manager and Review Manager, which offer a variety robust application and workflow functionality.

According to Robertson, the legal community has become more educated about e-Discovery and its role in assisted review. But that doesn’t mean the challenge of managing big data has ceased to be. In fact, it’s only getting bigger as the volume of data collected increases, which means that there’s often more to review. But the increased data sets do give kCura the opportunity to make review smarter, faster and more efficient, by using text analytics search technology to identify similar documents to your case.

As well, kCura lets users create applications, without much programming experience necessary. Users can build applications designed to enhance the review, analysis, and production capabilities in Relativity. Furthermore, Relativity Applications can leverage Relativity’s APIs, allowing third-party software companies to integrate their technology with Relativity.

In fact, these advanced review capabilities are no longer only relevant to eDiscovery -- they can also serve a broad range of IT trends, like records management, compliance and information management.

The Best Information Governance Framework is a Balanced One

Speaking of information governance, this week Iron Mountain released a new report, titled “A Proposed Law Firm Information Governance Framework.” The report, a product of a three-day working symposium convened in May, identifies best practices for information governance within law firms. Key themes of the report were presented during a panel discussion today called "Effective Information Governance Programs: Why Balance Matters."

How do you define Information governance?

It’s only recently that the legal industry has begun to embrace the merits of information governance (though none of the session attendees admitted to having a program already in place). Most firms generally consider information governance to be a way to manage information faster so as to stay out of trouble.

However, the report sought a more formal definition and describes IG as an “enterprise-wide approach to the to the management and protection of a law firm's client and business information assets.” That being said, IG doesn’t just reside in a specific department, rather it belongs to everyone.

What really needs to get done to build out an effective IG program?

Much like any new program initiative, selling the need for information governance within an organization requires continued encouragement and promotion. IG’s varying benefits will appeal to different people, so it’s important to lead off with the most relevant issue as appropriate.

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While a certain level of structure is need so that departments can have a  basic framework in place, the panelists didn’t yet see the need for an official director of information governance. Instead some of them advocated for an advisory group that brings together risk managers, executive leaders, general counsel and practitioners, while others think that it depends on your company culture. Law firms in particular are known for taking a siloed approach, so breaking down those walls may take time before IG can be fully adopted.

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What key functional areas should be involved in crafting an IG program?

A goal-oriented approach is beneficial to keep everyone on track, therefore the need for project officers is important. As well, e-Discovery specialists should be consulted so as to help keep information repositories separate so as not to compromise client information and mitigate risk.

What are the specific skill sets necessary for an IG leader?

The panelist describes a variety of skills necessary in making IG effective and successful. Among the traits listed, include:

  • leadership
  • ability to navigate political waters
  • ability to delegate
  • good listener
  • ability to network and connect
  • sales and marketing skills
  • good communicator
  • analytical
  • adaptable
  • passion for information

What are the key deliverables and metrics to include in an IG program?

It’s important to look at the tangible goals that you can effectively track. If you are unable to demonstrate how you achieved your goals, not only will buy-in be hard, it will be hard to correct course over time. Which is not to say intangible goals aren’t important, but it will be harder to convince others on the program’s success.

The Future of Legal Tech

Overall, as the legal tech landscape evolves, it will begin to include more than just e-Discovery, though that will continue to provide the foundation upon which other initiatives are built. As technologies to collect, review and analyze big data get smarter, its relevance will extend far across organizations.