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Corporate Counsel Slow to Embrace E-Discovery Technology Advances

Wednesday, October 21, 2015   (0 Comments)
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Corporate Counsel Slow to Embrace E-Discovery Technology Advances, According to Inside E-Discovery Survey by BDO Consulting

Less than Half of In-House Counsel Report Adoption of Technology-Assisted Review; Middle Market Furthest Behind

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Corporate counsel have made relatively little improvement in their e-discovery technology capabilities over the last year, according to the second annual Inside E-Discovery Survey by BDO Consulting, a leading provider of Financial Advisory, Business Advisory and Technology Services worldwide.

Thirty percent of organizations with revenues between $100 million and $1 billion (“middle market”) have adopted technology-assisted review, compared to nearly half (47 percent) of organizations with revenues of $1 billion or above. Similarly, just 15 percent of middle market organizations have adopted data visualization techniques, compared to 27 percent of larger organizations.

“As the universe of Big Data continues to grow, and the already complex regulatory environment becomes more challenging, it’s imperative that technology play a central role in determining what information is ultimately relevant to pending litigation or an investigation,” said Stephanie Giammarco, Partner and Forensic Technology Services practice leader with BDO Consulting.

The survey found significant room for improvement when it comes to the adoption and enhancement of organizations’ e-discovery technology capabilities, with the middle market falling the furthest behind. More than a third of all organizations (38 percent) report that they have not employed any recent e-discovery technological advances. This percentage rises to half (50 percent) when looking at middle market organizations.

“While some larger organizations have started to adopt technology, the middle market is late to the game,” said Douglas Herman, Principal in the Forensic Technology Services practice of BDO Consulting. “Not only do such tools reduce e-discovery costs, they can result in better case outcomes. It is critical for organizations of all sizes to evaluate and implement these technology advances as they become increasingly mainstream.”

Corporate Counsel Point to Big Data Management, Cost Control, and Regulations as Major Concerns

When asked to evaluate the issues that will have the most significant impact on their organization’s e-discovery process, almost half of in-house counsel (49 percent) ranked the volume, variety and velocity of disparate data as the issue that will have the greatest impact on their organizations. Forty-two percent cited escalating costs associated with the e-discovery process and 40 percent cite regulatory activity as the second and third most impactful factors respectively. These closely related concerns reflect the increased need for investment in e-discovery technology at a time when Big Data is experiencing exponential growth and the regulatory environment is becoming more globalized and interconnected.

Early Understanding Key to Successfully Managing E-Discovery

Corporate counsel ranked understanding the universe of potential evidence early in the case as the most important factor to managing e-discovery in litigation, followed by predicting the total cost of e-discovery.

Respondents’ focus on an early understanding of the scope of e-discovery points to growing concern over rising e-discovery costs. Thirty-nine percent of respondents anticipate they will need to spend more on e-discovery this year. Just 5 percent anticipate their e-discovery costs will decrease.

“When dealing with the volumes of electronically stored information (ESI) we’re seeing today, traditional searching and culling methods are usually not sufficient,” added Ms. Giammarco. “Employing data analytics and visualization techniques early along the Electronic Discovery Reference Model — even before an e-discovery issue arises, and certainly before processing all the ESI — maximizes efficiencies and reduces costs.”

Other major findings from the Inside E-Discovery Survey by BDO Consulting include:

  • Two-thirds of respondents reported that North America presents the most challenging e-discovery landscape, with China lagging far behind in second place (13 percent).

“In today’s digital age, the volumes of data generated from disparate sources around the world, combined with the nuances of navigating complex legal and regulatory issues both in the U.S. and overseas require robust e-discovery management capabilities,” said Jenna Aira-Ventrella, Managing Director in the Forensic Technology Services practice at BDO Consulting. “Pending changes to EU data privacy laws will certainly add to the complexity, potentially further impacting cross-border litigation or investigations.”

  • Respondents cited the myriad of international data privacy and security laws as their biggest challenge (51 percent) to managing cross-border e-discovery, but a combined 35 percent rate local access issues — access to data, coordination with local resources, and communication barriers ‒ as their greatest cross-border hurdle.

“Providers with boots on the ground typically have a solid understanding of local privacy laws and how to apply them,” said Glenn Pomerantz, Global Forensics Leader at BDO Consulting. “They are also best positioned to facilitate access, coordination and communication with local parties and resources.”

The Inside E-Discovery Survey by BDO Consulting is a national survey conducted by ALM, a global leader in specialized business news and information serving the legal, real estate, consulting, insurance and investment advisory industries, an independent and impartial research firm. ALM surveyed 140 senior in-house counsel at leading corporations throughout the United States to collect their insights for BDO Consulting’s second annual study.

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