eDiscovery Daily Blog

Welcome to 2016! The Age of eDiscovery Automation is Upon Us!: eDiscovery Trends

It was not that many years ago that if we wanted to buy something, we had to go to a store.  If we wanted to withdraw money from our bank account, we had to get it from a bank teller.  If we wanted to buy music, we had to go to a music store – today, we can download the music we want instantly.  If we wanted to rent a movie, we had to go to Blockbuster or one of the other movie rental stores now rendered obsolete by streaming services like Netflix*.  And, we can get just about anything else from Amazon and other online retailers that sell pretty much anything.

Did you know that, on this most recent Black Friday, where retailers have numerous discounts designed to get shoppers into their stores, online sales still outpaced in-store sales for that day.  Even on the “biggest shopping day of the year” more people would prefer to purchase Christmas gifts from the comfort of their home than to fight the crowds and wait in line at the stores.  My wife, Paige, and I did quite a bit of shopping that day for the kids and for friends – all online.  Your gift is “still in the mail”… :o)

Let’s face it, many services for which we used to rely on other people for are now automated in such a way that people can take care of that need themselves.  Most people love to be self-sufficient and do things themselves – as long as it’s reasonably simple to do so.  Why haven’t self-check lanes at grocery stores completely replaced those with an attendant that performs the check out for you?  Because the grocery stores haven’t figured out a way to make it easy enough (there are still many people who don’t like to use the self-check lanes at grocery stores because they find it to be too complicated).

What about in our industry – eDiscovery?  Are we an automated industry?  We’re becoming one – a lot faster than you think.

It’s hard to believe that next month will be the fourth anniversary of Judge Andrew J. Peck’s ruling in Da Silva Moore, which is widely considered to be the first case that considered technology-assisted review (TAR) to be an acceptable way to conduct review for ESI in discovery.  Since then, we have had numerous cases where TAR was approved for use during the review process and the technology and best practices associated with TAR have come a long way in a very short amount of time.  Automating the majority of document classification from a small subset classified by humans has become an accepted practice to significantly reduce review costs without sacrificing quality (if anything, quality has been found to have been improved in many instances).

Is that the only place where automation has been implemented in the eDiscovery process?  Nope.  Now, providers, including my company CloudNine (shameless plug warning!), have begun to automate many tasks from Identification to Production within the eDiscovery life cycle, with the biggest benefits gained in the Processing phase.  Now, you can point to a collection of Outlook PST or other files on a hard drive, upload them and an automated process will unpack them, extract attachments from emails, render all files to an HTML format, capture metadata, capture text, OCR image-only files that don’t have text and HASH the files for de-duplication (that’s what you can do with our software, anyway).  Many of these processes used to be manually performed (at least in part) and expensive; now, they can all easily performed with a few keystrokes from the comfort of your desktop – for free.  Automation has touched every phase within the EDRM model and will only continue to do so more as time passes.  It’s inevitable.

It’s time for all of us to accept that the age on eDiscovery automation is upon us.  As my boss likes to say, “you can get on the bus, or get run over by the bus”.  It’s here, and it’s here to stay.

*By the way, did you know that the CEO of Netflix once tried to sell his company to Blockbuster?  And, was turned down?  I’ll bet the executives at Blockbuster had that opportunity to do over again.

So, what do you think?  Do you think that we’ve reached the age of eDiscovery automation?  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.