News/Trends, Tech/Engineering

Adapting to a changing eDiscovery landscape

June 12, 2020 Sahil Goyal, Senior Product Manager

IT budgets are shrinking year after year, and the current global health pandemic is contributing towards this decline. According to Gartner, IT spending in 2020 is projected to decrease by 8% due to COVID-191. However, as IT budgets continue to take a hit, the responsibilities of the IT department are only expected to increase — including eDiscovery and legal IT teams.

Although eDiscovery processes have improved to become more lean, efficient, and cost effective, organizations will now face new and unexpected challenges in the wake of the recent health pandemic and economic uncertainty. Let’s dive deeper into how the eDiscovery landscape will shape up in the coming months and how organizations can adapt to these new challenges.

An influx of legal disputes

Economic downturns tend to increase litigation volumes for corporations. We have already seen an increase in labor, product liability, data regulatory, and other legal disputes over recent years. As the volatile economic scenario forces businesses to take extreme steps and cut corners, a natural fall out of this will be an increase in lawsuits they see filed against them. While the post-COVID-19 legal landscape is still unfolding, we expect an increase in lawsuits in the following areas:

  • Health care providers and manufacturers are always at risk for medical negligence and the current scenario only makes it worse.
  • Employers could face the brunt of these lawsuits due to loss of livelihood / unsafe workplace environment.
  • Customers could sue travel and hospitality providers for event and booking cancelations or retail outlets for the negligence of general hygiene and safety precautions.
  • There could be security lawsuits against publicly listed companies due to the misrepresentation of COVID-19 impact to their bottom line.
  • Media and government agencies could also face litigations for misrepresentation of COVID-19 spread and facts.
  • Finally, there could also be an increase in payment disputes, insurance claim disputes, and service interruptions due to economic mismatch.

New ESI sources to enable productivity

As the workforce becomes increasingly remote, new storage, collaboration, and communication applications like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom are being utilized to keep up with productivity. Often employees would also tend to employ personal communication mediums and storage mediums for daily use. This is resulting in electronically stored information (ESI) being stored in locations never factored in an enterprise eDiscovery strategy. A centralized cloud-based collection strategy that covers all your important data sources is recommended to ensure data is complete from legal aspects.

Data compliance monitoring and cyber vulnerability threats

With new data sources emerging, cyber security becomes an important consideration. Managing data and security compliance for a remote workforce is a big challenge. It is important that employers extend the same security and compliance posture they had for the enterprise to employees working remotely. A defense-in-depth strategy that extends beyond the physical office is crucial to ensure data is safe and compliant.

Additionally, with employees working remotely, it is important to understand and adapt to these new data security vulnerabilities and the increased risk of ransomware threats. Attackers today are well versed in the opportunities that these new work conditions provide. It becomes critical for organizations to partner with the right vendors to ensure their ESI is protected from any external threats.

Remote data collections

In-person data collections will become a thing of the past. It will not be operationally feasible for a third-party vendor to do in-house data collections. These data collections, which are already expensive to begin with, will also become time consuming and further increase the risk of data spoliation.

The onus will be on the custodians to upload ESI to a centralized location. With inconsistent and limited bandwidths available at home, slow data transfer and interruptions are going to make this immensely painful and inefficient for everyone involved. Seamless, deduped, and proactive collections of end-user data across endpoints and cloud applications will be the best approach to ensure that your organization is prepared in case of a lawsuit.

Inefficient and delayed legal reviews

The longest and most time-consuming process in eDiscovery is the review process. As legal counsels and litigation support analysts browse through thousands of documents remotely, the efficiency of remote reviews will take a hit. As teams scamper to collaborate and meet review deadlines, oversight and delays will increase the time to arrive at relevant data during eDiscovery reviews.

Organizations will need to ensure that they do not spend time reviewing non-relevant ESI. We recommend a combination of pre-culling of data sets to reduce the review scope, and robust pre-analytics of data will become a key requirement to reduce this “time to relevant data.”

Conclusion

Data collections are an important first step in the eDiscovery process. As businesses navigate through the current health pandemic and start to feel the heat of an economic slowdown, a largely remote workforce, and an increase in legal disputes and related eDiscovery requests, are going to make for a tough time ahead. It becomes critical that any organization prepares for these challenges and invests in eDiscovery and data collection technology in order to scale on-demand later.

Learn about how a cloud solution like Druva, can reduce your eDiscovery costs and ensure your data is always on, always safe.

1 Gartner, Gartner Says Global IT Spending to Decline 8% in 2020 Due to Impact of COVID-19, May 2020