Announcing the 2021 State of the Industry Report!: eDiscovery Trends

In my last post of 2020 before the holidays to recap the top blog posts of the year, I indicated that the 2021 State of the Industry Report was delayed and would be released after the start of the new year!  It’s now available, and it’s FREE!

Let’s face it, for many people, much of 2020 absolutely sucked.  2020 not only gave us unique challenges in life (which we all don’t need to be reminded of), it also gave us unique challenges within the eDiscovery industry as well.  Remote Work From Home (WFH) became a standard modus operandi for much of the industry, at least temporarily, which has also meant an end to in-person meetings and conferences, at least for the time being.  Many people lost jobs (including me) and budgetary constraints for eDiscovery products and services became significant.  Here’s an example: since the pandemic began, Rob Robinson’s Complex Discovery blog has conducted three quarterly surveys – in April, July and October. The average percentage of respondents over those surveys that selected Budgetary Constraints as the factor with the most impact was 52.2%, which is 28.4% higher than the lifetime average before the pandemic of 23.8%.  That’s significant.

That’s just one reason 2020 was an unprecedented year from a challenge standpoint.  But while Steve McCroskey would say, “I picked the wrong week to quit drinking”, I say I picked the right year to launch the first ever State of the Industry Report at eDiscovery Today!  What better year to reach out to the eDiscovery community and get your thoughts and observations about where we are, and where we’re headed in this industry than after the wackiest year yet?


So, eDiscovery Today launched its first annual State of the Industry Report Survey on November 16th, which consisted of ten questions and concluded it on December 4th.  And 183 of you responded – thanks!  Here are some of the highlights from your responses:

  • The breakdown of respondents was Software or Service Provider (42.6%), Law Firm (33.3%), Consultancy (14.2%), Corporation (5.5%), Government Entity (2.7%) and Other (1.6%).
  • Because of the size of the survey and the number of respondents for the Law Firm, Software/Service Provider and Consultancy categories, I have broken out the responses among those three demographics, so you can see how each segment has responded to the survey questions.
  • Nearly three-quarters of respondents (72.1%) have been working 100% remotely since the pandemic began.
  • Nearly half of respondents (44.8%) are already seeing a greater litigation workload since the pandemic began, with another 35.5% expecting a greater litigation workload to come.
  • Use predictive coding in litigation?  31.1% of respondents use it in all or most of their cases, but 32.8% of respondents use it in very few or none of their cases.
  • Nearly half of respondents selected Discovery of Collaboration App Data (24.7%) or Increased Use of Cloud-based eDiscovery Solutions (20.9%) as the biggest eDiscovery related trend that we will see organizations address in 2021.
  • And one quarter of respondents (25.1%) identified lack of eDiscovery competence within the Legal Profession as the eDiscovery challenge that not enough people are talking about.

However, there’s a second component to the State of the Industry report.  I also reached out to several industry thought leaders with questions about each of these survey areas and I have also included their observations* to add some additional perspective on these notable topics and trends as we head into 2021.  Hopefully, this provides a unique perspective from the industry as a whole and from the thought leader community!

So, how do you get the 29-page State of the Industry report?  If you are currently an email follower of the blog, or if you completed the survey when it was active, you will be receiving a link to the report this week.  If you’re not currently an email follower of the blog, you can get a copy of the report simply by following the blog via email.  To follow eDiscovery Today, enter your email address at the top of the right sidebar where it says “Follow Blog via Email” to receive the report as well as emails with links to new posts.  It’s that easy – and FREE!

Thanks to the 183 legal industry professionals who participated in the survey and the 20 thought leaders who provided their observations! And, thanks as well to Mary Mack, Kaylee Walstad and the EDRM team for your support and sponsorship to promote the 2021 State of the Industry Report!


So, what do you think?  Are you surprised by any of the survey results above?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

*Observations expressed in this report by thought leaders are their own and do not represent views of their employers, clients or partners.

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.


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