Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Greg Buckles. Published: 2014-04-20 20:00:00Format, images and links may no longer function correctly. 

The corporate perspective on eDiscovery has slowly matured from ad hoc reaction into the desire to proactively manage discovery costs through proactive business processes. This evolution to a mature Information Governance lifecycle has been at the heart of my consulting practice. It makes me happy to see BigLaw firms recognize the market opportunity and launch practice areas focusing on the upstream data lifecycle. We need more counsel who have a firm foundation in eDiscovery and who are comfortable with technology to guide clients. eDJ consultants are not practicing attorneys and we frequently work with client’s retained counsel on data maps, preservation systems, migrations and other enterprise initiatives. It is rare to find a litigator who ‘gets’ enterprise infrastructure and the complexities of Big Data systems. They are out there and it looks like law firms are starting to recognize their expertise by launching new practice areas focused on information governance, compliance and eDiscovery for the enterprise. Several calls, press releases and a quick Google helped confirm this trend.

I caught up with Patrick Oot this week on his move to Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P. from the SEC’s Office of General Counsel. He echoed the need for more proactive guidance to ease the impact of regulatory and other discovery requests. Patrick was an early thought leader in the eDiscovery market when I met him at Verizon, well before he co-founded the Electronic Discovery Institute

Another long term friend from the eDiscovery conference circuit, Eric Mandel just launched a new Information Governance practice for Zelle Hofmann along with Chuck Ragan. They briefed me on the new initiative at Legal Tech and are building out their team to tackle upstream information governance decisions.  Other recent AmLaw announcements concerning information governance investments include Adams and Reese, Baker & Hostetler and Wortzman Nickle.  You could say that firms are feeling the competitive pressure from the Big Four, but I prefer to think that smart litigators with technology savvy have spotted the same client need as we did. You have to be agile to keep up with the customer’s changing needs and I am happy to see attention shift from the end of the discovery lifecycle (review) to managing the data sources themselves.

Now that I am no longer wearing an ‘analyst hat’, it is easier to see that the siloed eDiscovery market has peaked and is being slowly integrated into the larger information governance, compliance and related markets. Shutting down our proactive market research division was not an easy decision, but the changes in the larger, traditional analyst firms over the last six months have validated our assessment of the market. Despite Gartner’s recent announcements to increase Legal IT research, I still see them shifting their focus away from eDiscovery towards the enterprise.

That brings me to my final example of notable eDiscovery thought leaders chasing the transformation of business process and information literacy. The Information Governance Initiative was launched by Barclay Blair, Jason R. Baron and Bennett Borden earlier this year to advance the practice of information governance. While I am not exactly sure how they will do this, I expect big things from their cumulative energy, expertise and experience.  Barclay says, “By giving the concept, market and practice of IG greater definition through research and publishing, and by bringing together practitioners who don’t talk to each other, such as data scientists and lawyers.” The eDiscovery market is certainly not dead, but it is certainly maturing and merging with the broader enterprise ‘Big Data’ market space. Eight years have passed since the 2006 FRCP amendments and the Zubalake v. UBS Warburg decisions brought eDiscovery to the attention of corporate counsel. That has been more than enough time for smart companies to recognize the need to integrate discovery capabilities into their information management strategy. 

Greg Buckles can be reached at Greg@eDJGroupInc.com for offline comment, questions or consulting. His active research topics include mobile device discovery, the discovery impact of the cloud, Microsoft’s 2013 eDiscovery Center and multi-matter discovery. Recent consulting engagements include managing preservation during enterprise migrations, legacy tape eliminations, retention enablement and many more.

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