Thought Leader Interview with John Wilson of HaystackID, Part Two: eDiscovery Trends and Best Practices

I recently interviewed John Wilson, Chief Information Security Officer and President of Forensics for HaystackID, who has more than two decades of experience providing IT, eDiscovery and digital forensics consulting services.  We covered so much with regard to eDiscovery trends that we couldn’t fit it all in a single blog post.  Part One of my interview was published Monday, here is part two.

Since we talked about GDPR, it seems that eDiscovery practices and workflows are continuing to be adopted globally. What have you observed about that, and how is HaystackID addressing the increased global need for eDiscovery services?

Similar to the pace of GDPR adoption, eDiscovery practices have still been slow to be adopted by everybody.  Many larger organizations – especially those that with a lot of litigation – have certainly implemented eDiscovery programs and practices and workflows to address their needs, but adoption is still trickling down into the mid-tier of the market, much less the smaller organizations in the market. I think the challenge that the larger organizations have is evolving those practices and workflows as eDiscovery continues to go through its cycles of evolution. It’s challenging to keep up with that evolution unless they engage with consultants and organizations, like HaystackID, that can help them continue to cycle their practices and workflows as well.


In our corporate consulting program, we help companies develop their eDiscovery practices and workflows. We help build the eDiscovery manual that lays out the framework and then we actually help with training and working the people through those workflows, so it’s an actual practical exercise versus just a paper exercise.

You’ve been a forensic examiner and consultant for a long time, and we’ve already discussed remote eDiscovery a little bit.  Even before the pandemic, we already started to see some eDiscovery collections performed remotely. How do you see collections being handled in the future, and how do you think the pandemic will affect collections in the future?

Yes, like we were discussing earlier, I think adoption of remote collection will definitely accelerate. I think many organizations will discover and appreciate that they can complete their collections without people having to travel to collection sites. When you’re performing remote eDiscovery, you’ll have a remote consultant that’s driving the remote effort. They can only do so many things at once while connected and remote, using whatever specific hardware they have.  With on-site collections, we can scale a lot more and perform multiple tasks at once. So, there’s still certainly going to be cases for on-site work, but I think that a large portion of current workflows will shift towards remote work, as it’s been proven to work and people are seeing how effective and less disruptive it can be. Remote work isn’t always less disruptive, sometimes it takes more effort to make sure that Virtual Private Network (VPNs) are in place and security checkpoints are in place for connecting and the impact can be significant. But overall, I’m expecting that at least 50% of the work will remain remote and that’s just based on the numbers we’ve seen.

As you said, there was already some growth in remote collections as a lot of cloud-based email platforms have all been shifted to remote collection anyway. When the data is on cloud servers and you’re no longer on-premise at a client or at an organization, there’s no reason to do that in person because you’re connecting to the cloud anyway. Unless you have authorization or security schemas that prevent remote access, that is.


In addition to collections, are there any other ways that you think the pandemic will, ultimately, impact the legal profession and the eDiscovery industry in particular?

It’s been an interesting ride going through the COVID-19 world as companies had to adapt and adjust very rapidly to remote scenarios and people not able to be in the same room together, so review has been significantly impacted.  Many companies previously did a lot of onsite reviews.  HaystackID has been doing remote reviews for eight years. We’ve done hundreds and hundreds of cases through remote review, but many clients still insisted on physical review in a review center. I think that’s definitely going to change as companies have discovered the efficiencies and the cost effectiveness of doing the remote reviews.  Not only cost effectiveness, but you’re also getting better talent because you can pull from a wider market.  You’re also getting better expertise that’s available to assist with a matter. So, organizations are realizing that there are definite benefits to moving to remote review.

I think that’s going to be a very major impact on the legal industry.  We’ve already been doing some remote collection, remote review and other remote eDiscovery work, but only a small percentage of the marketplace adopted it.  I think that that adoption level is going to go up substantially across the board as the organizations have started to realize the positive impacts of remote eDiscovery.

Certainly, remote reviews have the advantage of you’re not limited to a geographical area from where you can pull your reviewers from, so certainly that makes a huge difference right there.

Absolutely. With review, you have a much larger talent pool to select from.  The top candidates that could work on your matter in a geo-market could mean you’re delving into the top 25% of that pool, but when you start expanding the geographic region to include most of the United States or other expanded jurisdiction, the candidates that are going to selected for your project are the top 1% of the population that were available to work on it. You’re just getting a much higher talent pool.

Beyond that, one of the challenges in review has always been the subject matter experts and retaining the appropriate subject matter expert that can be sitting in an office in Boston or Chicago or LA or wherever.  When you conduct the review remotely, you’re now pulling your subject matter experts from a much larger pool as well. You’re getting truly substantive subject matter experts or language experts or whatever particular need you have, you just have a much larger pool to draw from.

We’re not done yet!  The third and final part of my interview with John Wilson will be published on Friday.

So, what do you think?  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 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.

Leave a Reply