The Difficult And Complex Demands Facing E-Discovery Software Developers


The market for e-discovery software solutions has evolved in the past several years but it still continues to evolve, as do the needs of the users who want more sophisticated products as technology also evolves. There's also a very volatile marketplace, with competitors left and right merging and acquiring one another as the market sorts itself out and determines leaders in this niche.
The biggest challenge is in actually now creating a product that keeps up with the demands of lawyers who insist upon faster and more convenient ways of collecting and organizing large volumes of information during the often tedious discovery process. e-Discovery is typically reserved for civil and criminal litigation involving organizations that have massive databases of electronically stored information from email servers, in-house networks and also in the "cloud." They want a way to very quickly sift through mountains of data and pull the nuggets of information that are relevant to their cases.
Of particular value to lawyers within these massive databases is "meta-data" - or the information that tells you more about the document or communication in question than what simply appears in it. For example, a Word document is of course comprised of the actual text typed, but meta-data consists of the embedded nuggets of identifying information that tell you about the attributes of the document - who created it, when it was created, when or if it was modified and last saved. Attorneys engaged in discovery are most interested in rapid and easy ways to access and organize the kind of data.
Meta-data also can very importantly apply to email communications - who sent what, when it was sent, who received it, where the message was later forwarded, who's on the distribution list. As a huge volume of inter-office and client communications takes place via email, it's critical to have a way to manage and view what is essentially a digital "paper trail" of discussions.
Another major hurdle is that electronic information is created and stored on all kinds of different media and hardware. The first challenge an attorney has is in securing all of the different ways the data can exist, such as on company servers, off-site third party server farms, and on individual computers, discs, thumb drives and other devices. And once all of that is located and corralled, it all has to be run through the collection and organization process. Lawyers want a product that can essentially be applied to all of these disparate sources and pulls the data they need.
A newer and thornier challenge is in how to collect data from social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn. Increasingly discovery has taken attorneys down the path of needing to see what might have been posted or communicated via the social networks. This raises a host of logistical and privacy concerns. There does not yet appear to be a vendor who has tackled this relatively recent wrinkle in e-discovery.
Regulation and judicial activity plays a huge role in impacting e-discovery. In recent years a raft of new laws and rulings have shaped the landscape of the discovery process, dictating how electronic data can be accessed, collected and produced in legal proceedings. Add to this that there now appears to be increasing international interest in e-discovery, and the rules and regulations arising will likely be as numerous and varied as the number of nations attempting to establish rules for the process. All of this seems to stack the deck against any vendor wishing to create a uniform standard for software that can be used across the board.
E-discovery software developers face a tall order in attempting to create a product that can easily satisfy the demands of both the legal world and the information technology community, both of which play crucial roles in the increasingly difficult e-discovery process. Yet whichever vendor can find the way to address these complexities and deliver a sufficiently flexible and efficient solution will likely win the day in this fiercely competitive arena.
To learn more about e-discovery software, visit FTI Technology e-discovery solutions.


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