As I conduct my 2015 Analytics research, I am asking interview respondents how they think the trend towards analytics and automation will impact eDiscovery careers and roles in the next five years. I have just finished my first round of interviews and already have a couple interesting tidbits to share. We all know that technology has the long term potential to replace, reduce or transform jobs in any field. My initial respondents certainly felt that automation of technical collection, processing and culling tasks would reduce technician headcount, but not impact ECA, search crafting and other tasks requiring human discretion. Interestingly enough, they did NOT think that PC-TAR review would eliminate full time paralegal or counsel positions. Instead, they felt that the swollen ranks of firm associates and contract attorney reviewers were vulnerable to market pressure instead. Not from PC-TAR adoption, but from proportionate, targeted collections resulting from maturing eDiscovery teams empowered by the new Federal rules and caselaw. You don’t need PC-TAR for a single skilled practitioner to tackle a couple thousand email and files with a modern eDiscovery platform like Relativity, IPRO, CaseData or others. A decade ago, savvy paralegals loaded small custodial self-collections using Summation’s eDocs & eMail module (sidenote: the requirements for that module were done on bev naps at my favorite SF bar – Plouf). Despite all the technical limitations and problems, that desktop software met the self service needs for most small matters without a huge eDiscovery budget. It is my view that the use of analytics on in-place enterprise data to make proportionate, defensible collections will return us to those days for a large percentage of matters. There will always be massive class action, EEOC, regulatory or IP matters that require large scale PC-TAR or linear review, but these should be the exception. Smart providers and practitioners will adapt their offerings and skills to meet the new demands. More insight as my interviews continue. I still have some time slots open for corporate or firm practitioners willing to share their perspective on analytics in eDiscovery, so send me an email or at least take the survey!