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LTNY 2008: "EDD Uncertainty Looms Over LegalTech"

"EDD uncertainty looms over LegalTech," writes Law.com technology editor Sean Doherty.

It's no surprise that e-discovery continued to be front and center at LegalTech New York again this year. This persistent emphasis stems from the 2006 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which bring uncertainty and unpredictability to e-discovery outcomes for corporations and law firms alike.

These same issues have been around since 2006 and before, but Legal Blog Watch's Bob Ambrogi explains in this videocast, "there's a lot of energy around e-discovery, and a lot of refinement of what's going on in e-discovery." Why now? It takes time for new rules to sink in, but well-publicized incidents like the Qualcomm debacle have made a real impact, as has the cost involved. Corporations have decided they don't want to pay inflated prices for their outside counsel to hire temp attorneys for e-discovery work. "'It's a profit opportunity for many firms," Robert Bjornsti, vice president at AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, told a packed audience at LegalTech New York,' reports Karen Donovan on Portfolio.com.

The AXA executive's speech preached a "new paradigm" for using outside counsel, which he delicately suggested will "affect law firm profitability." Bjornsti told the crowd he wants to be free to hire smaller, cheaper law firms from, say, Peoria, Illinois, rather than be tied to the "marquee" firms in big cities. Marquee firms have the "scale" required for complicated discovery processes, that feature comes at an increasingly unpalatable price: as much as $1,200 an hour for senior partners. Bringing discovery in house opens the door to hiring less-expensive litigators, he said. At any rate, corporations are usually better equipped to handle massive amounts of data than law firms, because corporate IT departments "bigger than the entire law firm, very often," he said.

It's a point not lost on IT teams. InformationWeek's Information Management Blog visited LegalTech, and came back with this lesson: "If your IT department isn’t pals with legal, now’s the time to strike up a friendship." The goal is to help avoid legal headaches down the line, but the relationship can be a "friendship with benefits," IW says. "The money for e-discovery hardware and software often comes from legal budgets. And the policy and processes that define an e-discovery system can form the groundwork of an information lifecycle management (ILM) strategy—resulting in further efficiencies in storage management." 

Posted by John Bringardner on February 7, 2008 at 06:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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