There’s a saying in Texas where I am from – you can still find it on some bumper stickers down here – that says “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could!”. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, a lot of people have had to embrace remote eDiscovery as fast as they could. But, as a recent article points out, there was already a migration to remote eDiscovery long before the pandemic began and many organizations were already here.
In Above the Law’s Legal Innovation Center Evolve the Law (Remote eDiscovery: Pandemic Accommodation or Improvement, written by David Greetham), the author noted that the idea of a remote distributed workforce is not new, particularly to the many eDiscovery services providers who have been operating in remote environments for some time moving data storage, processing, analytics, and review to the cloud or performing remote forensic data collections. In short, working and operating remotely was, for eDiscovery, not a COVID-19-necessitated paradigm.
Still, for legal departments and law firms, the operational changes necessitated by COVID-19 may later be seen as an inflection point that sped adoption of a remote workforce (and business). Activities such as remote document review that were on the “we’ll never do that” list – a list that has always been chipped away at by technology, shifting priorities, and emergent challenges – are quickly becoming the only recourse rather than a choice. Whether these changes, dictated by lockdowns, social distancing, and “nonessential” designations are temporary or party of the “new normal” remains to be seen. But the operational benefits in terms of reduced cost and increased efficiencies will be noticed. And efficacy will likely have been proven.
Long before COVID-19, there was already a gradual migration away from the traditional eDiscovery services provider office location – with provider staff gathered together in a single location. Tools that support remote work and collaboration, and technologies that support remote eDiscovery operations have made this possible. Cloud technology has been a key driver.
The fact is that even though professionals are increasingly dispersed, the data is now increasingly “centralized.” It is substantially more efficient and effective to collect, process, host, review, and produce ESI in a secure cloud environment, unconstrained by the physical location of either the data or those who need to work with it.
And, here’s a stat from David that illustrates the impact of that migration to cloud technology:
For Ricoh eDiscovery, the transition to remote work began some time ago. Consider that in 2007 more than 98% of data collections performed by Ricoh were done onsite. Today it is less than 5%. Five-plus years ago when Ricoh proposed moving their legal services clients to the cloud, less than 0.05% declined to move. Industry-wide this shift has been occurring with increasing rapidity.
In his article, David goes on to discuss some of the benefits of eDiscovery in the cloud, what the post-pandemic trajectory may look like and whether we’ve seen the end of document review centers (I personally think we have), among other things. I won’t steal his thunder – you can read his article here.
Regardless, while some of you embraced remote eDiscovery once the pandemic began as fast as you could because you had to do so; many of us were already here because the benefits are significant. It’s like that saying on that bumper sticker about living in Texas. Speaking of, David wasn’t born here in Texas – but he got here as fast as he could. Now, if we could only get him to work on that Texas drawl… 😉
So, what do you think? Did you use remote services for eDiscovery prior to the pandemic? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.
P.S. – I know some prefer the original French version of “en vogue”. But, I’m not French, I’m from Texas! 🙂
Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available 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 Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.