eDiscovery Daily Blog

Various Observations from LegalTech 2016: eDiscovery Trends

At the start of the year, one of the goals that I identified for the blog this year was to provide more perspectives from other professionals in the industry.  Not only does that give our readership different points of view, but it also saves me some work!  With that in mind, I asked various people that I met with (and/or presented with) at LegalTech® New York 2016 (LTNY) last week to offer their observations about this year’s conference.  Ten of them did, and those observations are reflected here.

The perspectives range from industry thought leaders to professionals at law firms and eDiscovery providers.  They reflect observations about everything from the sessions, the exhibit hall, the traffic, the logistics and the industry itself (after all, LTNY is a microcosm of the industry).  Some observations reflected the positive aspects of this year’s LTNY and some reflected some issues with the show and/or the exhibitors’ approach to the show.  Here they are, in the order they provided them to me:

George Socha, Co-Fourder of EDRM and Founder of Socha Consulting LLC: “On the monitors in exhibitors’ booths, I saw old school and new.  Old school showed quantitative information in rows and columns – often difficult to assimilate.  New school channeled Edward Tufte, visually displaying quantitative information in ways that allow us to more quickly and easily absorb, understand and synthesize large volumes of varied data.  More new school please!”

David Cohen, Practice Group Leader, Global Records & E-Discovery Practice Group at Reed Smith LLP: “The buzz at the show, and comments from multiple experts in the e-discovery field, indicated no let-up in the e-discovery business—it continues to grow, and we continue to see reorganization and consolidation in e-discovery companies, as well as the usual cycles of some companies and law firms trying to bring more of the work in-house, while others move toward more outsourcing or managed services.  In the meantime e-discovery sophistication, both in the people and in the products, continues to increase all around.  Accordingly, the demand for experienced assistance—being able to do more with less– remains high.”

Tom O’Connor, Senior ESI Consultant at Advanced Discovery and Director of the Gulf Coast Legal Technology Center: “Attendance was good and seemed a bit higher than last year in my entirely unscientific appraisal. EDiscovery was the major theme, with minors in analytics, security and international data issues.

The eDiscovery focus continues to shift to the left side of the EDRM model with an increased focus on data analytics and ECA/EDA.  I’ve said for over 2 years now that the only way to control ED costs is through effective document management policies, and the focus now seems to be firmly on that approach.  With regard to analytics, the main problem seemed to be defining it: one man’s analytics is another man’s concept search, if you will.   The main definition of analytics seemed to be ‘what we are selling’.”

Ralph Losey, National e-Discovery Counsel at Jackson Lewis, LLP: “Another year in the premier legal technology event, and another year of just more talk and competing, unproven claims by vendors. The legal industry needs objective evaluations beyond just Gartner to help attorneys sort through all of the baloney being served at LegalTech and other vendor driven events. But I do not see anything like that on the horizon and I begin to wonder if these events do more harm than good. Is LegalTech just another vendor event for the broadcast of misinformation and puffing. Does throwing in a few fine lawyer speeches (and there were many this year, as usual) really make a difference? The whole industry suffers as a result of this “all talk, no walk” approach. ALM’s LegalTech, or someone, needs to take the lead and start promoting standards and reliable, tested information. In the meantime we are drowning in “buyer beware” information, with little or no real knowledge dissemination, not to speak of wisdom.”

Amy Bowser-Rollins, Editor of the Litigation Support Guru: “I was really impressed with Dera Nevin on the ‘TAR 2.0 For Smart People’ panel on Tuesday and I enjoyed hearing about the non-traditional use examples in the TREC session on Wednesday morning. I was surprised at how dismal the exhibitor floors seemed this year.”

Bruce Markowitz, Vice President, e-Discovery at Evolver Legal Services: “It was refreshing to see new technology being deployed this year, especially for native excel redaction. No longer needing to tiff and pdf excels to be redacted is a big step forward in eDiscovery.”

Staci Kaliner, Senior Advisor, Redgrave LLP: “LegalTech NY 2016 was as vibrant as always.  The networking opportunities were endless, including meeting new contacts on the 20 minute line for the elevators!  There is no other conference in the industry that enables you to compare and contrast service providers, technologies, offerings and industry trends with the best and the brightest.”

Michele C.S. Lange, Director, Kroll Ontrack: “With more than 60 educational sessions, there was no shortage of top-notch speakers, interesting commentary and hot-topics at #LTNY16. Here were the top 5 themes that I noticed across the various sessions: Predictive Coding, FRCP Amendments, Safe Harbor, Information Governance, and Office365 and the Cloud. I particularly enjoyed the session that Kroll Ontrack sponsored with the EDRM, “25 Ediscovery Warnings in 75 Minutes”, which was standing room only and featured more speakers than any other session. Also, it was probably the only session that covered all 5 of these LTNY “hot topics” in less than 75 minutes!”

Janice Jaco, eDiscovery Project Manager at Keesal, Young & Logan: “One recurring theme I heard was that we are pricing ourselves out of the legal system.  Big data, specifically, document review, is inhibiting the judicial process.  Looking at every page of every document is not the gold standard in the age of predictive coding, categorization and analytics.  Corporate law departments should have a conversation with their outside counsel about the appropriateness of a linear, manual document review on every case with a significant amount of ESI.  There was also much discussion about ediscovery competence, which is a known predictor of discovery costs.  Clients should dig deep into the credentials of their outside counsel to confirm the right people, process and technology are being applied to discovery.  This is another way to reduce costs.”

Pete Feinberg, Senior Vice President, Products & Marketing at Consilio: “Legaltech New York 2016 is evidence that the technology providers in the market have reached a milestone of thinking about their software in the context of consumerization – bringing complex technologies to the masses in intuitive and natural workflows.  As opposed to Legaltechs of years past – where technology providers were just introducing powerful tools such as text analytics and predictive coding without much consideration for workflows natural to attorneys (instead aiming their wares at technophile elites), we are seeing more thoughtful and organic software that will drive adoption by less technology savvy attorneys.  The legal technology industry is now taking cues from consumer tech giants like: Amazon.com, Pandora, Google Maps, Apple and Expedia. That signals a maturation of the industry overall.

At the same time, the age of global consolidation is finally here.  From market news in the days leading up to, and during Legaltech, we’re seeing clear signs of consolidation and investment in the industry creating more distance between the dominant global players and smaller ancillary providers.”

So, what do you think?  Did you attend LTNY this year?  If so, what were YOUR observations?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.