This year, the Georgetown University Law Center is holding its 7th Annual Advanced e-Discovery Institute in Arlington, VA. The line up of speakers includes a who’s-who of e-Discovery in the U.S., including the Hon. Paul W. Grimm (Victor Stanley) and the Hon. Shira A. Scheindlin (Zubulake and Pension Fund).
The topics discussed on the first day ranged from a review of e-Discovery rulings in 2010 (at last count, there were over 250 cases this year with specific e-Discovery rulings), Proportionality, the Business of e-Discovery, and a compelling discussion about International e-Discovery.
The first session was a roundtable discussion by six judges. It was generally felt that this year could easily be branded the year of e-Discovery sanctions. While the number of sanctions related to e-Discovery negligence was not great (the four most well known were Pension Fund, Rimkus, Southern New England Telecom and Victor Stanley), the number of cases where sanctions were considered has increased dramatically. Other topics included cooperation, proportionality, obtaining ESI from outside the U.S. and obtaining ESI from third parties (particularly ESI hosting vendors, i.e. the cloud).
A session on the nature of the e-Discovery industry was extremely interesting. The panel and audience agreed that in-sourcing e-Discovery will continue, but will in all likelihood not become the norm. While e-Discovery software certainly makes in-sourcing easy enough, the big stumbling block was viewed as the lack of sufficient qualified people to perform the work. Most of the session centered around the question of whether the market can deliver “cheap and correct” e-Discovery. The general consensus was that the status-quo will continue until the decision makers realise that e-Discovery is as much an IT process as it is a legal process.
Although it wasn’t discussed in any great detail due to lack of time, one forecast of the e-Discovery landscape in 2020 was that it would no longer exist. Of course, discovery would still be around, but by 2020, organizations would have a good handle on the management of their records, and the documents needed for litigation would be available at the click of a mouse…assuming mice are still around in ten years!
Tomorrow’s discussions look to be just as interesting. Stay tuned for part two of this special blog report.