As expected, the second day of the Georgetown University Law Center’s 7th Annual Advanced e-Discovery Institute contained as compelling topics as the first day.
Craig Ball led an informative session on databases, explaining what relational databases are, how information is retrieved from these storage systems, and most importantly from an e-Discovery point of view, how the data within a relational database can be preserved and produced. The importance of this issue was highlighted through an interesting statistic Craig presented – in enterprises, 47% of all ESI is stored in a structured manner. A lot of emphasis is placed on the 31% of unstructured information (documents, spreadsheets, etc) and the 22% of semi-structured information (emails, instant messages), but almost half of all ESI in an organization is routinely ignored.
The afternoon was highlighted by discussing the cloud and associated technologies (social media, multi-tenancy, interactive websites, Wikis, virtualization and avatars). It was generally agreed that this is both a misunderstood area and of great concern to the legal community. Issues surrounding this arena run the gamut of e-Discovery, including preservation, collection, authenticity, control of content, and privacy. Circumstances that have never been addressed before are now moving to the forefront. For example, when an organization is using cloud storage that is co-mingled with other organizations’ data (a common occurrence in the cloud) and a litigation hold is place on the data, does this mean unrelated organizations’ data is also preserved by association? Or when someone is using an alias identity (an avatar) on the internet, how does one go about attributing an act to a person or authenticate what was carried out?
While the future is definitely going to see an evolution in the way discovery is carried out, the good news is that the e-Discovery legal community is being very proactive in reviewing and analysing emerging IT trends. New cloud computing guidelines are already on the way to address at least some of the anticipated issues.