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The eDiscovery Paradigm Shift

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Monday, December 28, 2009

eDiscovery in 2010

The week between Christmas and New Years wouldn't be complete without a blog post about what the new year will bring to eDiscovery.

With the world economy in shambles, 2009 was not the best of times for the legal market and therefore many in legacy litigation services. Law firms reduced their ranks by the thousands and subsequently litigation service providers, consulting firms and litigation technology vendors had to tightened their belts and some even closed their doors. As a result, many long time players in the litigation services space found themselves without a job and without any real prospects for finding a new one.

In contrast, the eDiscovery market held its own and in some sectors even grew. Electronically Stored Information (ESI) collection and forensic consultants flourished and Early Case Assessment (ECA) technology matured and emerged as the front runner to address the financial and technology ills that had been plaguing eDiscovery for the past several years.

So, what will happen in 2010?

The Legacy Litigation Services Market Will Continue to Contract
As the legal market continues its accelerating paradigm shift from paper based evidence to ESI based evidence in 2010, the legacy litigation services market will continue to contract. As a result, the litigation service providers that have not been able to make the switch to processing ESI will be forced to close their doors and legacy litigation technology vendors will continue to lose marketshare.

eDiscovery Will Move to the Corporation
Just about every analyst in the world has predicted that eDiscovery processing in 2010 will become the responsibility of the Information Technology (IT) organizations within corporations. This will result in a dramatic reduction in revenue for the litigation services and eDiscovery departments within law firms and third party service providers. This move will also require a switch in sales and marketing strategies for eDiscovery technology vendors as they will have to start selling to the IT departments of the corporation.

Legacy Litigation Technology Will Lose Marketshare
With the volume of paper based evidence continuing to decrease and ESI processing requirements changing dramatically, monolithic first generation EDD platforms will continue to lose marketshare in 2010. Just like the cassette tape player has been replaced with solid state iPod technology, processes like TIFFing will become something that our grandfathers had to do.

Early Case Assessment (ECA) Will Continue to Flourish
Early Case Assessment (ECA) in all of its various forms will continue to mature. The market will settle on a definition of ECA. Through expanded exposure to the power of ECA, progressive judges will begin to understand the value of ECA technology and start to set expectations for its use in FRCP 26(f) discussions. And, the previous generation of litigators will make their "last stand" on the value of ECA technology.

Complex analytics and associated reporting will emerge as a requirement for ECA platforms. Users will begin to expect next generation conceptual search supported by leading edge semantic based technologies. Further, ECA platform will expand further to the right on the EDRM model and begin to encroach on the document review market with true First Pass Review (FPR) capabilities.

Project Management and Dashboard Technology Will Emerge
Base partly on the advancement ot technology and based partly on the expectations of the corporate IT departments, eDiscovery project management, workflow and realtime dashboard reporting will emerge in 2010. Many of the integrated eDiscovery platforms and stand alone ECA platforms will include new versions of these capabilities in their 2010 offerings. However, the real winners in this emerging market will be the pure PM/WF/Dashboard providers that enable users to integrate the various technologies in their tool kits and generate real time status across the entire eDiscovery lifecycle.

Cloud Computing and SaaS Based Technology Will Gain Acceptance
Cloud based computing technology and associated Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivery models will become an accepted alternative in 2010. As eDiscovery moves to the IT department, the cloud computing and SaaS based applications market will increase dramatically. And, as ROI is better understood and the myths regarding the security issues surrounding these technology are proven wrong, cloud computing and SaaS based applications will also expand its marketshare with law firms.

eDiscovery and GRC Will Begin to Merge
With corporations compelled to better understand and implement document retention best practices in 2010, the practice of eDiscovery will begin to emerge as a subset of corporate Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC). Once a corporation has the ESI for the purpose of GRC, eDiscvoery will become just another reporting requirement.

Automated eDiscovery
As my posting on Web 3.0 predicted, technology driven eDiscovery will begin to emerge in 2010 as a method of increasing the speed and quality of eDiscovery while dramatically reducing the costs. 2010 will provide not see Hal900. But, we will see some very interesting technologies that enable eDiscovery knowledge workers to become much more efficient and accurate.