So far, 2020 has been…. an “experience." The challenges our industry had braced for, the opportunities we planned to seize, have been suddenly upended in ways we never would have anticipated.
At the end of last year, our team shared a few predictions for what was to come in 2020. They weren’t wrong, but the landscape in which they are coming to fruition has changed significantly from what we envisioned. Now, looking at the wake COVID-19 has left behind to date, it’s a good time to revisit those predictions and revise them to match the way the world, the legal industry and e-discovery have changed this year.
What we said then: Emerging data sources, emerging data sources!
What we say now: They are no longer “emerging.” They are here, and more are on the way. Legal teams must begin creating policies to handle and accommodate new collaboration platforms from both information governance and e-discovery perspectives. Future legal matters and investigations will be heavily weighted in these new data sources, and teams will need to be prepared with methodologies for extracting actionable information from them.
What we said then: Legal teams will rely more on analytics and AI to solve common problems.
What we say now: Not only will legal teams continue to embrace analytics solutions, they will come to recognize that they need them. The data landscape has exploded—in size and diversity—far beyond previous forecasts due to increased use of collaboration tools to support remote work. Analytics will become essential to dealing with e-discovery involving massive datasets from video conferencing, chat and other cloud-based collaboration applications.
What we said then: E-discovery collection of consumer data will be hindered by new, stringent data access restrictions at certain social media companies.
What we say now: This issue remains and will continue to present challenges for e-discovery teams. And now, the scope is widening. With millions of people working from home for months on end, personal and company data is becoming increasingly intermingled. From an e-discovery perspective, counsel may be required to collect a bigger swath of social media data or files from other personal accounts to piece together the facts of a case.
What we said then: Major technology companies will build in more e-discovery and governance functionality into their platforms, and e-discovery teams will start to shift towards “connect” and “enrich” workflows that enable faster access to key insights.
What we say now: Product development at major technology providers has shifted. While in 2019 they may have been working on data governance features, they’ve been forced in 2020 to shift toward supporting the massive increase in users and usability features. Supporting a large and growing user base will be the top priority for the time being, and add-on functionality like governance will take a back seat.
The point about teams becoming more sophisticated in letting data speak for itself where it lives is even more relevant today than it was six months ago. The new data footprint will demand legal teams to shift their traditional workflows and adopt new ways of understanding their datasets quickly and efficiently.