Spending by organizations on electronic discovery-related services grew in 2011 and should continue to increase through 2013, new research from Robert Half Legal eDiscovery Services indicates. Nearly one-quarter (23%) of lawyers interviewed said their law firms and corporate legal departments increased e-discovery expenditures in the last year, while just 2% said they reduced spending. Seventy-one percent indicated costs remained the same. Looking ahead, nearly one-third (33%) of lawyers said they expect to step up spending on e-discovery in the next two years, while 56% plan to maintain current levels and 4% anticipate a decrease.
The additional expenses could be attributed to costs associated with managing the burgeoning amount of data and information that lives outside of company networks. More than one in five (22%) lawyers said they are not at all convinced that if faced with litigation or a regulatory request their law firm or corporate legal department could efficiently respond to a request for pertinent information residing on social media sites, for example. Another 15% expressed a similar lack of confidence in complying with a request for information that resides in the cloud. Having a plan to respond to an unexpected discovery request is a task more than one in four firms still need to complete, the research showed. Twenty-seven percent of lawyers interviewed said if their law firm or company were to receive such a request today, they do not have a standard operating procedure in place to handle it.
Additional Findings Include:
- Lawyers reported their law firm or company has received an average of 16 external requests for electronically stored information in the last three years.
- Twelve percent of lawyers surveyed said issues or problems with collecting or reviewing electronically stored information negatively affected a case or ruling for their law firm or company in the last three years.
- Twenty-two percent of corporate lawyers interviewed said their company increased its handling of e-discovery projects in house within the last year.
Charles Volkert, co-managing director of Robert Half Legal eDiscovery Services, noted that evolving technology has made the job of preserving and reviewing data more intricate and time-consuming. “Attorneys should work with their IT teams to ensure that electronically-stored information, particularly on social media or cloud-computing platforms, is accurate and defensible if disputed in court,” Volkert said. “Developing an efficient process to do this can be challenging, particularly when law firms and corporate law departments are already stretched thin.”
Frank Wu, co-managing director of Robert Half Legal eDiscovery Services, added many organizations are recognizing that, while e-discovery is an event-driven process, it is beneficial to plan ahead. “Proactively defining and setting up an in-house e-discovery operation can significantly lower costs, reduce response time and mitigate risks,” Wu said. “It is important, however, to establish the right capabilities and capacities in a way that makes sense given current business priorities. This can be accomplished by balancing the unique needs of an organization, including its people, processes, technology and controls.”
The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal eDiscovery Services and conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 350 lawyers at the largest law firms and corporations in the United States and Canada.