We recently spoke with Jeff Gosling, Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing for LDM Global, about e-disclosure and its place in today’s rapidly changing legal world. Here’s what he had to say:
Q. How does e-disclosure fit in with modern litigation?
E-disclosure, starting with expert consultancy at the beginning as part of a case team, supports the correct identification and collection of information from the litigant to enable their legal advisor to give proper advice. Also, to then determine the best case tactics and comply properly with the civil procedure rules using the most efficient (and proportionate) route. Given most information is now held electronically, it should be considered for most matters. It avoids the risk of heading down the wrong path and finding out later that the initial legal advice was wrong due to incomplete information.
Q. Is there a great enough understanding within the legal sector about e-disclosure?
It varies widely within the mid-tier. Typically there is a perception that it is only relevant for large volumes of ESI (electronically stored information). Also, that it is expensive. Most of our consultancy and education focuses on reducing the overall cost of litigation, improving the probability of the best outcome and/or reducing risk of losing (especially on small matters, as reducing cost is key). Using external e-disclosure consultancy for competitive firm advantage is not widely understood by the mid-tier legal sector.
Q. Do the recent cost budgeting reforms make budgeting for cases more predictable?
Not on their own. They force a more detailed assessment of likely costs before embarking on litigation and give some clarity on what may be recoverable if successful. However, regarding e-disclosure, without a proper, early scoping exercise there is a high risk of discovering new information later. Budgeting is often therefore based on inaccurate assumptions, as legal advice is linked to incomplete or unconfirmed information supplied by the litigant to brief their legal advisor. i.e. not if the goalposts move…
Q. How far has e-disclosure technology come in the last 5/10 years?
It’s evolved from its infancy to an extremely powerful set of tools that significantly reduce the legal fees for searching and reviewing documents. However, like any toolkit, it’s the skill you have available to use it that counts. We’ve evangelised the now market leading software globally over this period and seen a continual revolution. The new generation of software able to do the work of several, at fixed fee rates, has opened the market for use on small volumes of data. The commercial development is as important as the technology itself for greater uptake.
Q. What does the future hold for e-disclosure?
Is it possible that artificial intelligence could effectively take over chunks of litigation in the future?
It’s inevitable as the legal industry changes, especially here with the ability to create alternative business structures and a drive to compete. The legal industry is considered by some ‘future gazers’ to be in a state of denial about the need to adopt more efficient processes and technology. Will there be a drive by law firms (or new competitors) to focus on the advice that adds value to a client, rather than the functions required as part of the legal process that do not need to be done by legally qualified (or even human) brains? Logically, yes, but the legal industry has been very slow to change traditionally.
Jeff has 20 years of experience helping lawyers during critical times on deals or cases, the past 15 years relating to the use of technology to achieve a better outcome or competitive position, primarily in relation to management and communication of electronic information. Jeff is the vice president of global sales and marketing for LDM Global, which specialises in consultative eDisclosure/eDiscovery worldwide, with an emphasis on adding value to mid-tier law firms.