Legal Technology News: The Changing Face of eDiscovery


As the world is increasingly connected by technology, managing electronic discovery (eDiscovery) is becoming more complex. According to Future Law Office 2020: Redefining the Practice of Law, a new report from Robert Half, advances in technology are also improving the way we can conduct eDiscovery.

Here’s some of the latest in legal technology news as it relates to eDiscovery:

Advanced technology-assisted review

Technology-assisted review (TAR) can be defined as a process for prioritizing or coding a collection of documents using a computerized system that harnesses human judgments of one or more subject matter experts on a smaller set of documents and then extrapolates those judgments to the remaining document collection. There are other common methods for leveraging the power of technology, including conceptual search, categorization, concept clustering, email threading and near-duplicate identification. These techniques prioritize eDiscovery reviews, making them faster, while reducing costs and improving quality.

Technology-assisted review, or predictive coding as many refer to it, is increasingly used in small to large matters.  In this higher-level artificial intelligence process, systems “watch” human behavior, learn from it and then apply that learning. Much as common search engines and social media platforms identify your “likes” and “dislikes” (think Google, Facebook, Amazon), algorithms gather data, analyze it and then make decisions about what's relevant.

Some of the ways law firms are using predictive coding include early case assessment, pre-litigation investigation and information governance.

Another quickly evolving artificial intelligence technology is inductive logic programming, which involves creating a neural network. With minimal supervision, the network can use speech and images to detect patterns or objects. Using a neural network to categorize and mine data creates the ability to explore more information to find relevant results than a human ever could. For example, Google’s test laboratory created a large neural network and gave it access to 10 million YouTube videos. The network taught itself to look for cats. Chances are, this technology will at some point be applied to eDiscovery.

Information governance

Information governance is a key upstream component impacting the eDiscovery process, according to the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) Version 3, released in 2014 by the eDiscovery standards organization EDRM.

An effective information governance program uses and manages an organization’s information to get the most out of it while minimizing information-related risks — those due to problems or errors in an organization’s records. An information governance program needs to link the creation, use and disposition of information and data to business objectives, technology considerations and legal concerns.

EDRM’s Information Governance Reference Model (IGRM) project offers a framework organizations can use to develop and implement information management programs. The purpose of the IGRM project is to assist in discussions among stakeholders by providing a common language and reference for discussion and decision-making.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT), still in its early stages, will become a growing source of new litigation data within the next decade. IoT is a network where physical devices — from mobile phones and tablets to smart appliances and wearable tech —  communicate with one another using embedded sensors, without human supervision. Over time, the devices will record an enormous amount of data.

Much of that data will be stored in the cloud, rather than on a specific device. The preservation, collection and analytical challenges for legal eDiscovery will have to be tackled as IoT develops. For example, who owns the data? How will data privacy and information security be preserved?

Ever-changing technology presents challenges for lawyers who handle the process of legal eDiscovery and the larger information governance space. Keeping up with legal technology news and eDiscovery case law is critical to avoid misunderstandings and mistakes that could affect clients.

For more insight on what the future holds for the legal field, explore Robert Half Legal’s research on key trends.

Tags: eDiscovery