Sometimes it seems strange to realize that eDiscovery, as a service, has only been around for a little more than twelve years. It was instituted by a revision to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which now provides for the discovery of electronically stored information.
The actual rule (34, for those of you playing the home game) was changed in 2006, though the legal world had been anticipating computer-led changes since the 1970s. That attitude was remarkably forward-thinking at the time, considering the most elaborate electronic device was a single-chip general purpose microprocessor built by fledgling company Intel. Beside that, there was a fancy twelve-chip calculator on the market.
How eDiscovery Has (and Will Continue to) Change the Legal World
These days, it seems there’s a new computer on the market every day, as well as countless ways to store information: thumb drives, endless Cloud services, external hard drives, work emails, personal emails, and more. Like high school history class, electronics will only become more complicated and difficult as time passes; the field becomes more cluttered with players with each passing minute. Not only are apps capturing information and storing it who-knows-where, but they also have backups and copies. Everything we do is stored and mined. As such, that data might affect any legal claim we have, and lawyers must know how to find relevant information (or, at the very least, have the right people on retainer).
There is a general consensus among younger lawyers that “establishment” lawyers don’t understand technology, that law firms are decades behind the curve, and that electronic knowledge is vital to success. However, as Above the Law pointed out, there have been 7,066 decisions regarding electronic discovery since the revision to the FRCP in 2006. Many of those judges have since retired, but new associate judges are taking their places, and they are determined to untangle the ethical and legal issues surrounding electronic discovery. This shows a desire by lawyers to engage in the unknown and to understand.
More Than A Legal Service
Electronic discovery affects all of our lives. The courts were bound to fall behind in their examinations simply because of the volume of new services. However, it seems that we — humanity in general — is finally catching up.
Perhaps technology will always be ahead of the courts. A judge will be trying to understand how information is stored on Snapchat’s remote servers when a new microchip becomes available that downloads directly into the brain. Attorneys will always fall behind the curve. However, it’s that determination to understand that remains most important. Lawyers must always be curious, and they should never discount that which they don’t understand. “Oh, Snapchat’s for kids,” you might think. Except it isn’t, and it affects your life, even if you don’t understand how.
This is why eDiscovery specialists are so important; they protect their customers by making sure all relevant electronic information is present and accounted for. Don’t leave yourself or your firm open to unnecessary risk. As the old saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know. (That’s why we do!)