In December, nearly 200 business leaders, attorneys, and legal ops professionals descended on Newport Beach, California for the IG3 West conference to explore scenarios and solutions for the next generation of eDiscovery challenges.

A savvy team of panelists from a variety of law firms and an engaging audience of technologists and IT professionals joined me to discuss the ways technology, smart devices, and the plethora of apps used to store and communicate information now affect relevancy and the eDiscovery process. As a result of our conversation, we came away with four essential takeaways.

First, if not dead, traditional eDiscovery is changing into something very different. We have been hearing about increasing volumes of data for years. Even more concerning is the proliferation of “exotic” forms of data, which may hold relevant information that is harder to obtain and understand in a meaningful way. Organizations conduct business across a myriad of platforms, and relevant evidence is starting to appear in these platforms.

Second, there is no longer a meaningful distinction between personal apps and business apps. Business, particularly communications, is conducted through a variety of applications, many of which are new and most of which will not be around in five years. The acquisition, legal preservation, and presentation of this data is a growing challenge. Information stored in these apps also affects an organization’s ability to comply with information security and data privacy mandates, and any breach of this information can drive future litigation.

Third, the ability to communicate – in writing or orally – within platforms is playing havoc with case assessment. During our panel, the audience posed a question: What is the “oddest” data source that evidence was found relevant to a case? One answer was Words with Friends. Another was Venmo. Facebook was a third. While these may be considered “exotic” eDiscovery data sources today, the panel unanimously agreed that because communication channels are a standard feature in nearly all consumer programs, we will see more of these sources play a prominent role in litigation.

Finally, effective data and information governance is the only way to stay ahead. This includes both understanding what and where are your sources of data through data mapping and information security as well as maintaining “clean” data through a well thought through and strictly maintained information governance program. The panel agreed that the need for this is often misunderstood by the organization, so training programs that explain the “why” of information security and governance as well as the “how” are your first line of defense.

Thank you to my fellow panelists:

  • John Breen, Partner, Lewis Brisbois
  • Michael Shortnacy, Partner, King & Spalding
  • James Taylor, Supervisor, Litigation Technology & Support Services, Fish & Richardson
  • Nathan Walter, Associate Attorney, Watt Tieder

Questions about Specialized eDiscovery for information security and data privacy matters? With our end-to-end approach to security incident prevention, analysis and remediation, EXTEND Resources can help you avoid breaches, quickly assess the impact if they happen, and effectively implement remedies to reduce risk. Contact Steve Henn at shenn@extendresources or 203-803-2127 for more information.