Reactions to the recent Am Law Tech Survey 2010 were dichotomous, with some feeling as though e-discovery is recovering and others predicting continued trouble for 2011. One thing all respondents seem to agree on? Pocketbooks are a large factor in e-discovery’s success.
As its title suggests, Alan Cohen’s Law Technology News article, “Cloudy Forecast in the Am Law Tech Survey 2010” predicts a less than bright future for e-discovery. According to the Am Law Survey, Cohen states, “While 60% of firms use cloud-based services for e-discovery…just 5 percent use [them] for document management, and 6 percent for storage.” Cohen considers document management and storage as “critical tasks,” of which vendors are being left out. To save money and time, firms need to make more efficient use of vendors for document management and storage to decrease overhead costs, while supplying a stable and reliable environment for their case documents. Cohen cites a down economy and strapped bank accounts as reasons for e-discovery’s failure to thrive. He states, “Economic recovery or not, technology departments are still feeling the impact of the recent global crisis.” Since Cohen’s main reason for e-discovery’s failure is empty pockets, using vendors seems a wise choice. Will e-discovery recover in 2011? According to Daniel Gasparro, CIO at Howrey, “…it will probably be your 2012 budget year before you start funding things like [you did in] 2008 and 2007.”
Despite the economic downturn, e-discovery is a necessity and, when approached the right way, it can be cost efficient. Using a vendor for processing and hosting saves time during the initial phases of a case, which equals money in the firm’s pocket. Although Cohen’s article is hard on the current situation, not all have such a bleak outlook on the fate of e-discovery. In the Litigation 2010 article “The Recovery in E-Discovery,” Charlie Mead states “…resurgent corporate earnings have helped lift e-discovery spending amid a tepid economic recovery.” Interestingly, Mead cites “…new government investigations and lawsuits aimed at untangling the financial alchemy that precipitated the downturn…” as reasons for increases in e-discovery. Although Mead has a more positive outlook than Cohen, it seems that all can agree that cost is an issue. In his article, Mead quotes Tom Gelbmann of the Socha-Gelbmann Electronic Discovery Survey, stating, “The question…is whether industry providers can fully capitalize on this market by lowering costs for the smaller clients.” Lowering the cost of e-discovery is not a problem if firm’s use a limited scope for initial collection. Vendors can further aid in lowering costs through keyword filtering and de-duping.