Is e-discovery the tail wagging the dog? 

Consider the stages of EDD, each costly:
1. identify sources and custodians,
2. preserve data,
3. collect data appropriately,
4. convert data into usable formats,
5. review data for responsiveness and privilege,
6. produce data to opposing parties, and
7. manage the overall effort.

Previous posts have discussed reducing review costs with offshore lawyers or more reliance on software. A better way is re-think the steps leading to review (identifying, preserving, etc.) Doing so is a double win: direct cost savings for those steps plus indirect savings by ending up with fewer documents requiring review.

Enter corporate records management (RM). Companies seek RM solutions that simplify tracking digital data and help prepare for litigation. I’ve suggested such convergence (E-Discovery Convergence at Hand? and Compliance and E-Discovery: Long Term Convergence?). Now, The Forrester Wave™:Records Management report (Q1 2007), available courtesy of CA here, observes that litigation is the “hot driver” of records management (RM). Forrester writes that today

“RM vendors do not have the capabilities necessary to truly solve the eDiscovery challenge. In an effort to claim a portion of the lucrative eDiscovery market, look for RM vendors to first partner with — and then buy — Discovery pure-play vendors such as Attenex, CaseCentral, MetaLINCS, Stratify, and ZANTAZ.”

If the leading RM vendors (the top three the report identifies are CA MDY, Open Text, and IBM FileNet) succeed in expanding their reach, then e-discovery becomes cheaper and easier. For example, one person operating a console can replace armies of data collection technicians; destruction and retention occurs in real time, reducing data volumes; integrated tools enable selecting relevant documents during collection rather than afterwards; and loading a review repository occurs with a few mouse clicks. Separately, automatic policies to enforce litigation holds reduce the risks of spoliation and sanctions.

In this world, RM will become the dog and EDD merely the tail.

My thanks to Peter Pepiton II, Esq., Discovery Product Manager, CA, Inc. for helping educate me on the corporate perspective and his comments on a draft of this post.