In the past few years, technological acceleration has rewritten the rules for e-discovery. An explosion of new channels has created challenges when it comes to processing e-discovery requests – a factor that compromises efficiency and can create serious setbacks throughout the litigation process.
Sifting through huge volumes of data to locate the relevant document or record is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry today, according to Law in Order’s eDiscovery Manager, Martin Flavell.
“In some ways, technology has just heightened the problem that already exists within e-discovery – the sheer amount of data that we have to search through to identify the relevant material within that data,” says Mr Flavell. “This issue is being exacerbated by social media – a channel whose real-time nature has turned the document retrieval process into a minefield.”
He says that as data proliferates, the crisis will only get worse over time.
“I think social media will have a big part to play in the future. However, the data will be spread across multiple jurisdictions and some of it will be in the cloud. It’s going to be spread all over the place. Businesses are going to need the technology in place to access it.”
Part of the problem stems from the inversely proportional relationship between the time constraints associated with the litigation and the volume of work demanded by e-discovery.
“When it comes to litigation and disputes, urgency is paramount – everything always has to be done yesterday. That factor hasn’t changed. The thing that has changed, however, is the amount of work required to get to that end point and the amount of documents you have to search through to locate the relevant one. And this work needs to be completed in the same amount of time.”
Mobile devices such as iPads and smartphones have also disrupted the e-discovery industry by creating multiple touchpoints through which information is accessed, collected and stored. Unfortunately, most traditional e-discovery systems are incompatible with this hyper-connected information landscape, creating major barriers when attempting to process requests.
Power of Prediction
For many businesses, success depends on a willingness to embrace predictive coding technologies such as technology-assisted review – a software platform that can be programmed to mark out relevant and non-relevant documents. Technology-assisted review can fast-track the document retrieval process and minimise oversights with its heavy use of predictive analytics and automation.
“Assisted review is the leading technology on the e-discovery market today and it’s really gaining traction in Australia…” although it’s (already) widely used in the US. In the next couple of years, it’s set to become central to the e-discovery process and will make it easier than ever to locate relevant data.”
Before embracing predictive technologies, it’s important to establish a clear strategy and project-specific parameters.
“In the future, e-discovery won’t simply be about whether you’re using that technology. It will be about how you’re choosing to use it as well.”
Interview: Martin Flavell, e-discovery manager Law in Order