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The eDiscovery Paradigm Shift

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Friday, February 29, 2008

Cell Phones,Text Messages and Smoking Guns

It doesn't take reviewing the results of one of the recent national studies on cell phone usage to realize that that most Americans and most adults throughout the industrialized nations of the world now have cell phones. As such, the collecting the ESI on cell phones should be at the top of the checklist for almost any litigation in 2008. However, given the fact that I spend most of my waking hours discussing eDiscovery and ESI collection and computer forensics, I am still surprised that the potential smoking gun data on cells phone is either over looked or under estimated.

In a recent blog posting titled "Don't Forget the Phone Messages"on ediscoveryinfo, Brett Burney points out several recent high profile cases in which the ESI on cell phones were the basis for the case (i.e. the smoking gun).

Does anyone else have any other examples of either cell phones providing the "smoking gun" evidence or cell phones being overlooked to the determent of the case. Further, does any have any interesting computer forensic case studies in regards to retrieving ESI from cell phones.

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Is eDiscovery Technology Outpacing the ability of the Legal Marketplace to Comprehend?

I spend most of waking hours either talking to lawyers at law firm or General Counsel and their staffs at major corporations about how to address the issues surrounding ESI in regards to upcoming or current cases or working with litigation support service providers and consultants about the latest litigation technology and associated concepts and how to deliver it to the legal market.

Over the past several weeks, I have begun to wonder if the continuous introduction of new eDiscovery concepts and associated technology and practices is beginning to outpace the ability of the mainstream legal marketplace to comprehend.

In his recent "Crystal Ball" article in Law Technology News, Craig Ball, a well known and prolific blogger on the subject of computer forensics and associated areas of interest in the legal community, lists 17 predictions for Electronic Data Discovery for 2008. And, these predictions indicate that we are just beginning to see the tip of the ice burg in regards to understanding this new playing field and all the new technology to automate and reduce the cost of managing the enormous increase and widespread proliferation of ESI.

Mr. Ball's list is as follows:

1. Virtual machines shine as a form of production for challenging ESI.
2. Fueled by virtualization, thin client computing returns.
3. Personal data principally resides on portable media and the Internet.
4. We'll share a common EDD vocabulary.
5. Intelligent harvest mechanisms.
6. It'll cost less to store a terabyte of data than to buy a tank of gasoline.
7. EDD custodial data volumes swell by three orders of magnitude.
8. Routine production of system metadata.
9. Generic production containers for native and quasi-native production.
10. Low-cost desktop review tools.
11. Hosted production takes hold.
12. Widespread use of hashing for authentication and identification.
13. Data footprints of serial litigants become well-kept and well-known.
14. Key-based encryption demarks and encapsulates privileged communications.
15. Backup tape usage wanes as costs drop and active sources proliferate.
16. Location data routinely recorded and discovered.
17. U.S. data privacy rights move closer to EU model.

I don't have a ready answer to my question. However, as the name sake of my blog suggests, we are witnessing a major paradigm shift in the legal community with everything associated with litigation and ESI changing at a very rapid pace. It will be interesting, at the very least, to see where this all ends up.

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New SaaS Legal Application

As a update to my previous posts regarding the availablility and use of SaaS applications in the legal market, I recently came accross RocketMatter, a new Web 2.0 based case and time management solution for small and medium sized law firms. Take a look and let me know what you think.

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