Each year, Clearwell predicts what’s next for e-Discovery. It’s a conversation we always look forward to as it presents an opportunity to look back at the past year and look ahead to next year. For 2010, it was predicted that with more e-Discovery brought in-house, e-Discovery would focus more on the way it is managed and how information is organized. For 2011, we will look at e-Discovery as it relates to evolving technologies and the global landscape outside its door.

Dean Gonowski, vice president of eDiscovery services at Clearwell says that in 2011, the most interesting changes aren’t likely to be the most dramatic. That being said, e-Discovery is facing some interesting challenges when it comes to the cloud, social media and the global marketplace. Let’s take a look.

Top 5 e-Discovery Trends for 2011

1. Best Practices for Data Collection

While many companies rely on manual processes by individual custodians to collect and review data, automated processes will become more prevalent in 2011. It used to be that manual processes were considered to be more legally defensible, but thanks to better technology and more case law, employing automated methods may prove to be more reliable.

2. Continued Consolidation

As more and more large technology companies acquire smaller, pure-play e-Discovery companies, it’s inevitable that such consolidations will impact the marketplace in 2011. Expect to see more acquisitions in the coming year.

3. Proportionality Becomes Reality

As e-Discovery has grown, so has the quantity of data that it is expected to search. With that, companies are pressured to keep costs down while keeping efficiency high. In 2011, we’ll see the legal community push for more clarification so that the proportionality of data is aligned with more realistic expectations.

4. Collision of Cloud, Social Media and e-Discovery

It was bound to happen sooner than later. Now that cloud computing is more or less an accepted storage alternative for companies, and more are learning how to embrace social media, it’s important for them to understand how exactly they affect structured data, preservation and data proliferation. Despite a lack of case law around social media, companies in 2011 are behooved to start paying closer attention to the benefits and challenges these technologies pose to them.

5. The Maturation of Global e-Discovery

As more countries adopt e-Discovery methodologies quicker than expected, they will be looking to the US for guidance and direction. With e-Discovery becoming more global, the legalities of data storage and the global communities will evolve faster than expected.

2011 is poised to be a year of firsts. We anticipate that we’ll see more unique case law concerning issues that are just emerging, like cloud computing and social media. While it’s bound to bring excitement, most companies will be anxious to see what it means for them and their data in the years ahead.