Issues of eDiscovery for Paralegals

The Paralegal Resource
July 19, 2013 — 904 views  
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eDiscovery or Electronic Discovery is basically the electronic aspect of identifying, collecting and producing Electronically Stored Information (ESI) in response to a request for production in a law suit or investigation. ESI includes emails, documents, presentations, databases, voicemail, audio, video files, social media and websites.

Importance of Electronic Discovery

Importance of Electronic Discovery has increased manifold with the advancements of technology in the recent years. Law firms are increasingly seeking digital media in the pre-trial phase these days. They are looking to access email messages, presentations, blog posts, databases and other electronic content an organization has possession of.

Evidence based on ediscovery has immense credibility in the judicial systems of today because they are more conclusive than some other physical forms of evidence. Unlike physical forms of evidence, digital evidence is not too easy to tamper with and hence adds more weightage to a lawyer’s defense.

Issues of Electronic Discovery

eDiscovery has come a long way ever since the IT industry’s boom in the 1990’s. But it too has its fair share of issues.

  • The rules and technology are always changing–In the 1990’s we had tapes and now we have USB drives and cloud storage. Innovation in IT will continue to be rapid. It has also been estimated that organizations by the year 2020, will have to deal with more than 50 times the data they deal with today. Global litigation rules are constantly evolving as well as the integration of social media platforms has led to greater security risks.
  • Costs are unpredictable–eDiscovery budgets are diminishing, but ESI volumes are at all-time highs. It is very difficult for organizations to allocate optimum funds towards E-Discovery as costs see consistent volatility.
  • TAR (Technologically Assisted Review) is underutilized–Studies have proven that TAR can save both time and money when it comes to reviewing documents. However, TAR as of now is being used only in big cases. Proper implementation of TAR could lead to many organizations cutting down on human resources, and this would particularly affect paralegals
  • Case analytics are primitive–Law firms are finding it tough to understand their eDiscovery data across various cases. Paralegals often entrusted with such tasks are facing shortage of useful metrics to make better decisions that would result in litigation management efficiencies.

Although ediscovery faces its fair share of issues, steps can be taken by paralegals to avoid them and make the best use of eDiscovery.

Solving the Issues

  • Corporations must stop over-reliance on manual processes and be consistent in their eDiscovery practice.
  • Consistent resources should be dedicated to eDiscovery tasks. Paralegals can be entrusted to eventually iron out the cost inefficiencies and create a cost-effective model of expenditure on eDiscovery.
  • There has to be better coordination between Legal and IT departments. Paralegals should stop working in vacuum like atmospheres and seek to change the dynamics of the working relationship between departments.

Technology must be deployed to provide the backbone for the process as software drives standardization. Dedicated teams should be assigned for Content discovery and information management software platforms.

The Paralegal Resource