LegalTech 2014 - A Focus on Information Governance

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Last week I attended LegalTech at the Hilton in New York City. During the past two years the focus of LegalTech has largely been on the continuing Predictive Coding discussion with an emphasis on using it to reduce the cost of discovery. This year's conference, however, featured more varied CLE topics and discussions.

One of the most talked about topics this year was the emergence of meaningful information governance. This focus on the reduction of stored data represents a sea change in thinking for potential litigants. Following Zubulake and its progeny, organizations endeavored to preserve all ESI they created. This helped to insulate them from the dreaded spoliation issue, but it also led to a steady rise in discovery costs.

Organizations are beginning to think of efficient and defensible ways to reduce the amount of data that they are storing because of these discovery costs. It only makes sense that lower amounts of stored data means that less will be collected, review and produced.

Document retention policies have been at the forefront of this governance effort. While drafting of retention policies is relatively easy, implementation sometimes lags far behind. There are plenty of reasons for this, but one is that old habits die hard. Individuals within organizations are used to receiving litigation holds and being told that consequences for destruction of ESI are major.

Another challenge to information governance has been the advent of "Bring Your Own Device" policies as well as people becoming more technologically savvy. Company data is now stored locally on various laptops, iPhone and Blackberries owned by individual employees. More and more potential custodians are also archiving email to container files such as PSTs and saving them locally to their machines.

It remains to be seen whether this rise in the information governance discussion will eventually lead to a reduction in eDiscovery costs. Its prominence at LegalTech, however, shows that organizations are making an effort to think intelligently about preservation issues with an eye towards defensible, cost saving measures.

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