I recently interviewed Mandi Ross, the founder and CEO of Prism Litigation Technology. 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, part two was published Wednesday, here is the third and final part.
So, as we indicated, you’ve been in the eDiscovery business a long time. What’s your observation on how the state of lawyer competence in eDiscovery has evolved over the years and where it stands today?
Well, ABA Model Rule 1.1 requires technical competence as a requirement for lawyers. There’s also a consideration that if they don’t have the technical expertise, that they should involve people that do. Even though there will be a bar for technical competence as it pertains to lawyers, eDiscovery is complicated. There’s definitely a divide between being an attorney and being an eDiscovery expert. So, even though lawyers will continue to gain knowledge in this area, it’s important to understand when engaging an expert makes sense to mitigate risk and ensure that tasks are handled defensibly.
We’ve also seen certain state court rule amendments, such as Michigan, by way of example, where the judges now have the discretion to appoint an eDiscovery neutral to handle the negotiation of eDiscovery-related items with the parties. I believe the reasoning behind this dovetail with what I just said a minute ago, in that you really need to understand where the line is as far as expertise in eDiscovery versus being a practicing lawyer. Looking back, there’s been a technological divide between senior attorneys and the newer generation of attorneys. Of course, we know the younger generation is very much engaged with technology to begin with, and we’re also seeing an emphasis in teaching practical aspects including eDiscovery in law schools.
So, coupled with where technology is now, in tandem with what’s happening around the business climate in relation to the pandemic, this may be the tipping point where technology being leveraged in the practice of law becomes commonplace. Legal has been one of the last industries to embrace technology as a means to improve efficiency and reduce costs, and it would be impactful to see that shift occur during my career.
So, what else are you and Prism working on that you would like our readers to know about?
Well, we’ve had quite a bit going on. We’re investing a lot of time around the drafting process relating to the George Washington initiative that I mentioned earlier. In addition, we are about to enter the Georgetown Judge Tank Session, which is seeking ideas around innovative topics that would impact the process of discovery. So, I’m excited to see where that may lead.
In addition to our regular Evidence Optix® technology which I touched on earlier, it has been interesting when engaging with both law firm providers and corporations, because one of the things that we’ve continued to hear is that there really is a gap around the data source tracking components of a lawsuit. Consequently, we’ve had incredible interest for the functionality that we incorporated around data source tracking in particular. What that equates to is that we have built in chain of custody, preservation, and collection documentation that is managed centrally through the platform. The discovery life cycle management tracking process is tracked from preservation through review and production, and ultimately disposition. It provides team collaboration between the in-house corporate legal team, IT, the outside law firm, and any vendors who are participating, so they all have centralized access in real time to exactly what is happening with the data sources as they move through the workflow. There is also a variety of automated reporting that keeps the legal team abreast as to what is actually happening. It was surprising for me, Doug, to hear that many people are still relying on the spreadsheet as the mechanism to manage all things relating to data tracking.
As a result of this particular need, we’re about to launch Evidence Optix® – Limited Edition, which is a scaled-down version of our technology-enabled proportionality workflow that provides people with the ability to do all of the things that I just described around data source tracking. We’re excited to see how it will be received in the market just based on the feedback that we’ve heard thus far.
We’re also proud to have established some partnerships with companies that are really creating innovative technologies as a means to improve the eDiscovery process. Those companies include X1 and ESI Analyst. They also view Evidence Optix® as a technology platform that falls within that same innovation category
And in tandem with the technology offerings, we’ve also enhanced some of our consulting workflows relating to preservation, collection, searching and targeting content, along with data remediation and disposition processes. We’ve been providing product briefings to a number of our clients around the new, evolving technologies that we’re representing which seems to have been extremely well received from the interactions that we’ve had thus far.
Mandi, thanks for your time today and thanks for participating in the eDiscovery Today Thought Leader Interview Series!
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.