The More Decentralized Our Workforce Becomes, The More Centralized Our Data Becomes: eDiscovery Trends

Does that statement seem illogical to you? Or do you agree with that? Regardless, a new article discusses how that may very well be the case, at least in eDiscovery.

In Document Strategy (A Point of Inflection: Remote eDiscovery, written by David A. Greetham), the author states the following with regard to remote work during the pandemic: “The simple truth is that even though professionals are increasingly dispersed, data is increasingly centralized. It is much more efficient and effective to collect, process, host, review, and produce ESI in a secured cloud environment, unconstrained by the physical location of either the data or those who need to work with it.”

Of course, as David also notes: “The idea of a remote distributed workforce is not new. Many eDiscovery services providers have been operating in remote environments for some time, taking data storage, processing, analytics, and review to the cloud, or even performing remote forensic data collections… However, no matter how prepared an organization was, the change to remote work had to be made.”

I already covered a Legaltech® News article last week that discussed how remote work has improved productivity and work quality for eDiscovery professionals (which David was quoted in) through flexibility of schedule and lack of commute (among other factors).  But the cloud offers additional benefits, including:

  • A lower-touch process (less movement, fewer discoverable copies, and enhanced control)
  • Removal of geographical restrictions based on workforce
  • Scalability (near-instant provisioning and decommissioning)
  • Exceedingly secured environment
  • Cost-effective (pay for consumption and the resultant shift from CapEx to OpEx)

That second point above bears additional discussion. The other edge of the “double-edged sword” of job loss during the pandemic has been Increased flexibility to get a job anywhere because geographical location is often no longer a requirement for job positions.  So, if you are one of the people in our industry whose job has been impacted by the pandemic, that should increase your chances of getting that next job.

David ends his article with a look at where eDiscovery’s headed next and a look at remote document review.  Obviously, security is always a concern with remote work (including review) and David provides several aspects to consider regarding that.  This leaves the only other concern – for some, at least – control.  Will law firms and providers shift back to in-house review when the pandemic ends? Or will they continue to do the work remotely as they have been forced to do so during the pandemic? As David notes in concluding his article: “it’s entirely possible that after COVID-19, the industry will split into two camps: those willing to keep working in this fashion, and those that are not. It may be that law firms and legal departments that allow service providers to continue to operate in this fashion will see a competitive advantage over those who do not. What has been mandated as necessity now, may prove to be the mother of innovation. We shall see.”

So, what do you think?  Will many providers return to in-house eDiscovery work when the pandemic ends or will they continue to provide eDiscovery services completely remotely?  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 authors and speakers themselves, 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.

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