E-Discovery Unfiltered: Vendor Management Trends and Impressions Survey (Ari Kaplan)

Ari Kaplan Advisors’ annual E-Discovery Unfiltered Survey is a welcome and refreshingly readable report that provides actionable intelligence for defensible decisions on vendors and issues in the eDiscovery ecosystem.

Report Synopsis by ComplexDiscovery (Rob Robinson)

E-Discovery Unfiltered – 2018 Survey Snapshot

In the field of eDiscovery, Ari Kaplan needs no introduction. And among those who value industry research that represents the unfiltered views of eDiscovery influencers and decision makers, Ari Kaplan Advisors’ annual E-Discovery Unfiltered Survey is a welcome and refreshingly readable report that provides actionable intelligence for defensible decisions on vendors and issues in the eDiscovery ecosystem.

The report is designed to accomplish two key objectives according to survey author, Ari Kaplan. Those objectives are:

  • To provide actionable intelligence for companies to understand their market positioning and feedback from their target audience.
  • To give companies insights on trends in the industry.

This year’s 43-page report on the survey covered the responses from 31 eDiscovery professionals to three general types of questions. Those questions being:

  • Candid Impressions of 20 Leading eDiscovery Vendors
  • General Thoughts on Key Trends and Investments (Two Open-Ended Questions)
  • Specific Thoughts on Key Questions on Issues Ranging from eDiscovery Costs to Vendor Selection (Twelve Specific Questions)

These questions were posed to legal professionals with titles ranging from Assistant General Counsel, eDiscovery, to Senior Security Analyst/eDiscovery. Answers to the questions were organized through the lens of three categories of responders. Those categories being:

  • Corporate Counsel
  • In-House Legal Personnel
  • Law Firm Partners

Some of the most notable quotes in the detail-rich report include:

  • Corporate Counsel on the Topic of Biggest eDiscovery Headaches: “The amount of data and the different sources of that data. It is like Whack-a-Mole. Every time I figure out how to control one area, another pops up.”
  • In-House Legal Personnel on Investments for 2018: “In 2018, we are focusing heavily on TAR because now that we have preferred pricing with vendors, our next big expense is attorney review. If we can use TAR to reduce the data for review, we can dramatically lower the budget.”
  • Law Firm Partner on Cost of eDiscovery: “We have a subscription arrangement due to our large volume of projects. We end up buying a certain number of terabytes and reselling them on a per GB basis to clients.”

The quotes are just general examples of the comprehensive responses represented in the report. Responses that contain enough information to allow for the tethering of decisions to reported facts.

Concise Observations on In-House Execution of eDiscovery

It was not surprising to see that 79% of the corporate respondents, including in-house counsel and corporate legal professionals, are bringing work in-house, which is fairly consistent with last year when 82% said they were doing so, advises Kaplan. 83% also reported that there are tasks that they used to outsource that they now perform internally, he adds noting that the cloud reflects a liberation of technology in that it broadens accessibility giving companies the ability to manage more of their discovery internally.  “We are the ones that know our documents so either companies are bringing it in-house or they are narrowing the number of tech partners they are working with and seeing them as advisors,” said a senior lawyer with a telecommunications company. “It makes a lot of sense and is cheaper,” said a lawyer in life sciences.   

Kaplan also highlights that as refresh cycles approach and legal teams discuss further migration to the cloud with their IT and law department leaders, the drive toward greater efficiency will support this shift. The widespread implementation of Office 365 and urgent re-evaluation of data management protocols in light of GDPR are further fueling these updates, with the exception of moving an organization’s most highly coveted information, e.g., R&D and other valuable proprietary data. “This is a question that the company is struggling with,” said the assistant general counsel for a manufacturing company. “We don’t want to buy technology; we want to rent it. I don’t want to spend hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars per year for something I will not use,” added the director of e-discovery for a life sciences company. 

Additional Commentary on the Evolution of eDiscovery

TAR and analytics are becoming more widespread. 71% of corporate respondents reported that they are engaging in data discovery beyond regulatory matters or litigation, and 62% said that regulatory disclosures qualify as electronic discovery.

“It is no longer unusual for us to incorporate analytics and computer-assisted technology into our workflow,” said the associate general counsel for a financial services company. “The biggest trends are analytics and automation, which are what most in-house functions are looking for,” said one professional responsible for innovation with a life sciences company. “The demands will be very high because more people understand that e-discovery, regulatory compliance, M&A, business development, and licensing all have the same needs,” the individual added. 

“Mobile discovery will be much more of a concern as larger amounts of data reside on mobile devices,” said an engineering leader for a financial services company. Interestingly, the manager of discovery for a telecommunications plan noted that from a pricing standpoint, it pays a flat fee for a certain amount of data similar to a mobile phone plan, which includes time for project management. 

Learn More About the Survey

For those interested in learning more about the report, including details of the many different micro versions of the report that may be suitable for positioning decisions and promotional efforts, contact Ari Kaplan Advisors via email (Ari@AriKaplanAdvisors.com) or on the web at AriKaplanAdvisors.com.

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