Survey Results Demonstrate a Significant Transition Point for Corporate Ediscovery
Sixth Annual Survey Taps 250 In-house Ediscovery Professionals for Current Trends
The theme of this year’s report is, to borrow from Bob Dylan, “The times they are a-changin’.”
We can all relate to shifts in technology — when the first generation emerges, it can cause a major shift. Think back to your first cell phone or flatscreen TV. When they arrived, it was exciting, but over time new technology emerged and surpassed the devices that had been state-of-the-art just a few months or years before. This year’s Corporate Ediscovery Benchmark Report revealed that this phenomenon is happening to in-house legal teams.
The 2019 report demonstrated that corporate ediscovery is hitting a transition point. As we unpacked the responses from the nearly 250 participants, we saw the emergence of three distinct types of teams handling corporate ediscovery. In the past, we have typically seen the “haves” and “have nots,” but this survey revealed that the “haves” are now in two distinct categories.
- Pioneers are the first wave of teams that blazed a trail for in-house ediscovery. Much like the early cell phones and flatscreens mentioned above, the investments these Pioneers made are starting to become burdensome because the technology has not kept pace. As a result, these companies are being forced to go back and reinvest.
- Modernizers represent the new wave of professionals who are using modern systems to manage their processes proactively. They are focused on process optimization and new data sources.
- Finally, there are the “Do-It-Yourselfers,” a scrappy group that has lower volumes and tends to use manual processes and outsourcing. Their processes are reactive, and those who fall into this category may have difficulty finding budget and resources.
Comparing Pioneers and Modernizers
In comparing the experiences of Pioneers and Modernizers, we noticed some data points to their differing experiences.
In looking at their priorities, they are focusing on different areas. Pioneers are dealing with minimizing risk of spoliation and managing growth in data volumes. Modernizers are focused on streamlining legal operations, ensuring data security, and preserving data from emerging sources. With more scalable systems, the Modernizers are able to focus on efficiency and emerging technologies compared with Pioneers’ concerns around protecting their data.
In looking at best practices, the picture becomes even clearer. While both groups are similar in many areas, but there is a clear separation in the following areas:
- Targeted data collections where Modernizers (51%) are more likely to be selective, whereas Pioneers (40%) are doing more bulk collection, which explains why data growth is a priority.
- Process for trigger events where Modernizers (42%) to Pioneers (34%) are able to have a more proactive approach because they have built processes to assess and initiate action when needed.
Just for Fun: Preferred Superpower for Corporate Ediscovery Pros
As a treat, we included a question to determine which superpower our survey respondents would choose. A full third (33%) of respondents wished for time travel skills, while another 15% preferred the ability to read minds. Because both of these superpowers would make the corporate ediscovery process much easier, it’s no surprise that they were the most popular answers.