What does big data mean for the legal industry?

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about technology solutions for information governance.  In that blog, I briefly reviewed some of the ways to best and most securely manage data (behind the firewall, in-house appliance, cloud-based solution).

Compared to the rapid evolution of technology businesses, other industries are struggling to keep pace. In the past couple years, the legal field began to focus more on compliance and data management concerns, trying to catch up to the privacy worries of wearable technology and cross-border data exchange.

The legal industry is notoriously slow to evolve, but in the last few years we’ve seen analytics and technology solutions embraced across the board. The next big challenge is managing big data… before a law suit hits.

Generally, terms like early information assessment and information governance refer to data management before and after litigation or an investigations hits. More simply, it’s the data awareness needed for legal hold, collections and preservations.

Really these terms (early information assessment and information governance) are how the legal industry tries to wrap its metaphorical arms around big data and all the complexity it brings. According to ‘Inside eDiscovery and Beyond,’ a recent BDO Consulting survey, “74% of corporate counsel rank a data breach as their organization’s top data-related legal risk.” As a result, “62% of survey respondents [also] report they will increase their investment in information governance.”

Managed review technology tools took the legal industry by storm about 5 years ago. Early information assessment software and hardware solutions are on a similar trend upwards. This wave is consuming our industry and will only keep building.

A number of technology solutions popped up as a response to these changes and as a way to mitigate these data risks. (We won’t jump into the cost/benefits analysis for the following tools in this particular blog, but we wanted to provide a reference list of some of the main players, included at the bottom of this blog).

As technology becomes more and more prevalent, users trust the automation in their software tools more. According to the Legal Hold and Data Preservation Benchmark Survey 2016 Results, 85% of automation users feel confident or very confident about automated preservation tactics, compared with 59% of manual users and their methods. This gap widens for collections – 66% of automated users were mostly satisfied or very satisfied while manual users were only at 30%. We’re already becoming accustom to new tech tools in the market.

While legal hold is really only one part of information governance – the reactive side of the house – and while the industry has seen a move toward automation and innovative technology solutions, only 46.1% of survey respondents used an automated software system while 52.5% were still maintaining manual processes.

Technology and automation are infiltrating every part of our personal lives and professional workplaces, even in the legal industry. Data management is becoming increasingly important as we create more content. We live in an era of big (and bigger) data. We have to be prepared for what that means for our industry.


Information governance solutions:

  • Matterspace ELM
  • Exterro Fusion
  • Relativity Litigation Hold
  • IBM StoredIQ
  • IBM Atlas
  • zApproved LegalHold Pro
  • EMC Kazeon
  • Symantec Evault/Clearwell
  • Guidance Enterprise
  • HP Autonomy
  • Daegis
  • OpenText Recommind
  • Office 365 e-Discovery


Written by Todd Haley, Vice President, Business Intelligence, eTERA Consulting. Todd can be reached at marketing@eteraconsulting.com.


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