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Archive for October 11th, 2007

The Future of the Electronic Discovery/Lit Support Industry

Posted by rjbiii on October 11, 2007

Monica Bay writes a second installment in her series (entitled, somewhat confusingly, Defuse Fear and Disarm EDD Vendors–we posted about the first article here), in which she discusses trends in the industry:

First, to set context, let’s look at the Darwin issues. At the 2007 LegalTech New York show, I predicted three evolutionary trends:

1. The Big Three (Thomson Corp., LexisNexis, and Wolters Kluwer) would continue to gobble up any strong EDD product that doesn’t stand still.

2. There would be lots of roadkill, reminiscent of the collapses, as wobbly companies are crushed by poor business models, inadequate technology and/or competition.

3. Nimble, agnostic niche companies — that play well with others and have sharp agendas — would thrive (at least until #1 applies).

The article notes the continued buying sprees by “the big three,” including Thomson’s acquisition of the high-end technology consulting firm Baker-Robbins. Other trends discussed include the “commoditization” of standard EDD processing, the advantages for vendors in hiring folks that know what they’re doing (shocking, that), and the uncertainty that [should] accompany those law firms or corporations trying to take the whole discovery process in-house. Craig Ball, an attorney who has specialized in the field, contends that much of the collection (or, to use industry terminology, “data acquisition”) will devolve back into the sphere of the law firm:

“Honestly, people pay me a lot of money to do things they could do in-house if they invested in the right training and tools,” says Ball. “I find it odd that lawyers who wouldn’t hesitate to go to a client’s facility and collect documents are terrified of the liability that might flow from doing the same thing for e-documents. So what if you might have to testify? Do it correctly and do it routinely, and it’s as much a ministerial task (read: one that doesn’t disqualify you if you have to testify about it) as making photocopies or moving bankers boxes.”

Ball concedes that he is “decidedly in the minority camp on this right now, but mark my words: There’s a lot of this stuff that will routinely creep into the realm of DIY as tools improve.”

I know a lot of forensics experts who wouldn’t want to hear that…

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