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The eDiscovery Paradigm Shift

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

eDiscovery Decisions in 2011 Increase at Accelerating Rate

The eDiscovery Race The coveted  Gibson Dunn 2011 mid-year analysis on eDiscovery cases is out and it is not surprising that the number and sophistication of eDiscovery cases continued to grow at an accelerating rate.

Highlights from the Gibson Dunn analysis of pertinent decisions include:


  • The number of eDiscovery decisions continues to increase at a blistering pace. The 187 decisions we identified in the first half of 2011 represents an 82% increase over the 103 decisions we identified at mid-year 2010.
  • The number of instances in which litigants sought sanctions in the first half of 2011 was more than double the number in the same period last year (68 at mid-year 2011 versus 31 at mid-year 2010), and sanctions awards have nearly doubled in absolute terms (38 at mid-year 2011 versus 21 at mid-year 2010).
  • Notwithstanding this increase, courts awarded sanctions at essentially the same rate as in 2010 (56% of the instances in which a party sought sanctions in the first half of 2011, versus 55% for the full year in 2010).
  • Determining when litigation is "reasonably foreseeable" for purposes of triggering the duty to preserve continued to be a fact-specific analysis.
  • Courts continued to emphasize that counsel's responsibility to ensure preservation does not end with timely distribution of a legal hold notice.
  • Courts continued to demand cooperation and remained keenly aware of counsel's efforts--or lack thereof--to resolve eDiscovery disputes before seeking judicial involvement.
  • It turns out that there is such a thing as "discovery karma," at least in the 10th Circuit, and "ankle-biting" an opponent for alleged discovery glitches may not be appreciated, especially when one's own house is not in order.
  • While no reported case addressed the use of predictive coding or other advanced search technologies, there is no doubt that these tools have been noticed, as The New York Times and Forbes focused on their potential impact in featured articles.
  • eDiscovery law continued to develop rapidly, and while some areas of law are coming into focus, other areas--including basic issues such as whether a litigation hold notice must be written--continue to be heavily debated.
  • Calls for reform of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure continued, and the Civil Rules Advisory Committee is considering various

Unless you are stuck in some Star Trek  time warp where Electronically Stored Information (ESI) and the associated eDiscovery is in some future and maybe even parallel universe, the Gibson Dunn report should come as no surprise.  The amount of ESI is going to continue to grow at an accelerated rate for the foreseeable future.  The cloud is going to accelerate the increase in the volume of  ESI acceleration even faster.  So, the fact that our judiciary is “dealing” with these facts is a good think. Let’s all hope that this continues to accelerate also.

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