A Lawyer Must be a Technologist, Especially in the E-Discovery Industry

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01Nov2010

A Lawyer Must be a Technologist, Especially in the E-Discovery Industry

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Posted on The Posse List Blog

As we have stated numerous times in our e-discovery/data management “thought leaders” series, (click here)  we face a tsunami of data.  For a good discussion of how this all evolved, read our interview with the “Master Sensai E-Discovery Gurus” Ralph Losey and Jason R. Baron (click here)  and see their brilliant presentation Did You Know which you can access on YouTube (click here).

Yes, the amount of data is staggering.  As a further recent example, an August survey conducted by Symantec revealed that just backup tapes alone are storing documents on indefinite hold in enterprise libraries that would stretch to the moon and back 13 times with enough left over to circle the globe seven times (for the Symantec survey click here).   And according to the study, storing all this data makes it harder to find what you’re looking for. It is now 1,500 times more expensive to review data than it is to store it, Symantec estimates. Backup windows, meanwhile, are so overloaded that weekend backups are taking more than a single weekend these days.

So with the accelerating increase in electronically stored information along with the changes in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the courts’ (Federal and state) tsunami of decisions, how do you control and manage the data?  Technology.  As a result, lawyers must become technologists.

And you must become technology savvy if only for the simple reason to increase your abilities, advance your career — in other words, propel your personal agenda.

Earlier this year, Donna Seyle posted an article (you can read it on JDSupra by clicking here) in which she said lawyers must “embrace technology.”  While her article was geared toward the law firm and innovation, she addressed the existing situation for all lawyers:  the massively influential rise of social media marketing, blogging, networking, data management, etc., demands it.  And no more so than for those of us involved in e-discovery.

It is why we launched the Electronic Discovery Reading Room (click here)  to provide Posse List members a “go to” site which (hopefully) provides the information to learn about the tech behind e-discovery.  It is why we set up two job listservs that post jobs for lawyers needed in various legal technology areas and legal project management (to get on any of our lists follow the instructions posted on our site (click here).

You can do simple things like working your way through the Sedona Conference E-Discovery Glossary (now in its third edition), which is the most comprehensive for e-discovery we have found.  It provides definitions/explanations of many terms commonly (and not so commonly) used in e-discovery and digital information management.  You can download it for free by clicking here.

Or look at our weekly “Top 10 … plus more” list of interesting blog posts, and views on electronic discovery-related issues and other tech developments from the past week (for our latest click here) and our “Vendor Clips” which provides vendor views and industry news from electronic discovery-centric vendors and commentators (for our latest click here).

Or go to a legal technology conference near you.  All offer free admission to the exhibit hall (those that have them) where you can meet technology vendors, see the technology at work behind e-discovery, etc.  Many allow free access to students or limited 1-day passes for free admission.  We attend about 15 conferences a year in the U.S. and about 8 in Europe and Asia.  We meet vendors, gain info — and sign up vendors who post jobs on our job lists.

Note: We receive media credentials from each conference which allows us to attend these conferences for free.  We then conduct interviews, attend seminars, etc. and post our coverage on this site.  If you’d like to assist The Posse List in covering conferences send your resume to media@theposselist.com

As Ron Friedmann has noted, one of consequences of the paradigm shift in the legal industry is that “what is bad news for law firms could be good news for legal technology managers and legal technology professionals.” Law departments must act to reduce legal spend.  If GCs don’t, CFOs and CEOs will step in.   Law firms have lost pricing power and face a battle for market share.  Winning that battle will require that firms offer clients more value.  To do so, firms will get serious about process improvement, project management, outsourcing, and alternative fees.

As we have noted in numerous posts, law firms must deploy/have been deploying new technology and new expertise but also use  old technology more effectively. This requires more business and technology professionals, in temporary/contract capacities.  The existing contract attorney base — and its newest members — provide that.

In the last year, we have seen a spike in our membership coming from ex-BigLaw associates, former trial lawyers, government lawyers, forensics consultants, and others.  More contract attorneys have moved into project management roles and information technology roles.

It is the reason that our job posts for substantive temporary legal work have increased dramatically.  For those on our job lists, you know that the legal recruitment industry is characterized by an enormous surge in demand for temporary legal professionals.  Our job lists have greatly expanded in both geographic range and subject areas.

In spite of all the challenges we face in today’s job market, we are working in a part of the legal industry that is unusual because it is open to sharing and collaboration, through publications, quality conferences, trade shows, and peer networking organizations.  Use these resources.  Think outside the box. Take part.

Originally posted on The Posse List Blog

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