Three Major Observations and Developments from the Legalweek Conference

By Larry Gill and John Patzakis

Last week X1 attended and exhibited at Legalweek in New York, engaging with many customers, partners, and industry colleagues. It was great to connect with so many of our customers, and friends and hear their valuable feedback and insight regarding industry trends, pain-points, and their process and technology wish-lists to better address today’s eDiscovery and information governance challenges. Here is a report on three key takeaways from these interactions and the sessions we attended:

1. Corporate Counsel and Their Outside Law Firms are Both Seeking Cost Benefits Through Streamlined Processes

ALM hosted a State of the Industry session, that emphasized recent trends showing a disruption in the industry that once rewarded for inefficiency but is now being forced to change…and a digital transformation is happening. In fact, corporate legal is increasingly bringing their eDiscovery workflows in-house and seeking operational efficiencies to drive better collaboration, more predictable outcomes, and minimize costs in response to economic pressure. The presentation highlighted the top General Counsel pain-points and expectations toward streamlining their efforts including good advice, excellent technology, and efficient services.

We also heard this refrain in our various discussions with law firms and some service providers. The law firms are growing frustrated with the overcollection and other costly inefficiencies employed by service providers they hire for reactive eDiscovery engagements. These firms are working with their corporate clients to internalize a more systematic process to better manage costs and risk, with an emphasis on preservation and collection solutions to gain control earlier in the process. One service provider we met with has also recognized this trend and is sponsoring enterprise eDiscovery software deployments on a managed services basis.

2. Many Discussions About the Need for a Unified Collection Process

Every discussion we had confirmed cloud data sources such as MS 365 Mail, OneDrive, SharePoint, Teams and now Slack, comprise a significant portion of responsive ESI in nearly every matter. However, file shares, laptops and on-premise email servers remain a significant source of ESI as well, and that in-house counsel, their firms, and service providers must employ an approach that addresses all relevant data sources. Adding to this challenge, all this proliferated data can add up to tens of terabytes in a single mater. We met with one service provider with a project requirement to search several large file shares behind a company’s firewall for PII, while also needing to address company data stored in OneDrive and MS 365 mail. They expressed frustration over point solutions that did not address all the data sources they needed, did not scale, and required mass data transfer to begin assessing the data.

These demands require a robust platform to search, identify and act on all this disparate data from a unified interface and workflow. Additionally, given the volume and complexity of this data, it is important to be able to index and search this data in place to allow for iterative and targeting collection, instead of the bulk download/transfer approach by legacy tools that drive up costs and increase risks.

3. eDiscovery Vendors are Moving Upstream to Focus on Preservation and Collection

In recognizing these trends, solution providers “moving to the left” with greater urgency was evident at Legalweek. Acquisitions like LIGL by Reveal and Relativity investing in successful partnerships with collection platforms Cellebrite and X1, show that offering a solution that addresses the most critical “front end of the legal eDiscovery process” is absolutely necessary moving forward. In fact, the buzz at Legalweek was that eDiscovery review platforms are or are looking to make bold moves to the left in order to better differentiate and better control eDiscovery workflows and start with collection.

Another factor in the renewed focus on collection relates to the proliferation of AI, a clear theme in many conference sessions and floor discussions. With AI becoming more ubiquitous yet more commoditized, organizations are looking to solidify their collection approach. As OpenAI and many other open-sourced platforms dominate the landscape, the advantages of proprietary AI technologies are diminished. But now more than ever, there is a need for a streamlined data collection “pipeline” into these AI engines. The more streamlined and efficient the collection process, the more powerful and iterative the AI capabilities.

To discuss some of these Legalweek takeaways in greater detail, X1 hosted a webinar on Thursday, April 20 featuring Navigating Data Discovery in a Microsoft 365 Centric World, watch the webinar on-demand here.