eDiscovery Survey Results – 2nd Study of Illinois Lawyers

Overview
The Law Bulletin Publishing Company recently conducted its second annual survey of Illinois attorneys regarding their experience with electronic discovery. The responses to this year’s survey increased 64% over 2008, with 372 lawyers responding to 24 questions that asked about their level of exposure to eDiscovery matters, experiences with electronic discovery vendors, and products. The final question asked for their thoughts on the most important issues facing them in this ever-expanding area of practice.

Who’s Who?
The respondents to this year’s survey showed a shift towards small firms and solo practitioners, with 39% representing firms of between two and twenty attorneys compared to 35% last year and 28% being solo practitioners, compared to 22% last year, while the 2008 share of 25%of respondents in firms with over 100 attorneys dropped to 17.5%. The remainder was spread between firms of 20-50 (10%) and 50-100 (5%).

Size of firm/legal department

Size of firm/legal department

The respondents themselves were primarily partners (54%), with 30% being associates, an increase from the 2008 number of 20%. The number of in-house counsel responding dropped slightly from 15% to 14%.

Your role

Your role

Federal Rules on eDiscovery
Perhaps the biggest surprise occurred once again in the question that asked “Are you familiar with the federal rules changes regarding electronic discovery?” In 2008, 70% answered “yes,” which meant that 30% were not familiar with the rule changes. That figure seemed almost astonishing given the high degree of coverage and the flurry of CLE activity surrounding the rule changes that went into effect in December of 2006. However, this year the number saying they were familiar with the rules actually decreased slightly to 66.8%, while the number saying they were not familiar with the rules actually increased to 33%. This number seems especially perplexing two-and-a-half years after the rule changes went into effect.

Sources of eDiscovery Trends
Another surprising trend was that print media was replaced by the Internet as the main source of information on electronic discovery. In 2008, 45% of the respondents said that print media was their primary source of information, with Web sites second at 35% . This year, Web sites edged out print media 40% to 38%. E-mail feeds also increased from a 20% showing in 2008 to 27% this year, thus giving electronic information a nearly two-to-one advantage over print media at 67% to 38%.

Reference sources

Reference sources

Conferences remained the same at 22%, while consultants dropped from 12% to 9% and the percentages who answered either “colleagues” or “case law” stayed at last years level of 5% each. CLE sessions, however, dropped to below 1%. So overall, the trend that started last year of the growing use of nontraditional methods of electronic delivery of information directly to the desktop has continued to develop.

How Much Is That Case Worth?
When asked specifically about matters involving eDiscovery, 62% answered that they had handled such a case, which is curiously down from the 2008 response of 68%. As was the case last year, 30% of those had a matter valued over $5 million, with the others ranging from $5 million to less than $100,000.

The value of the case

The value of the case

Has the Case Load Increased?
Seventy percent stated that their eDiscovery case load had not changed in the past year, but of the 30% who answered it had increased, 80% indicated it increased by more than 50%, with 90% of all respondents stating that they expected their eDiscovery caseload to either increase (36%) or remain stable (54%) in 2008.

Financial Impact
Asked “Has the recent financial climate changed your approach to electronic discovery?” a resounding 82.8% answered “no.” However, this survey went out before the massive layoffs at the top law firms, causing the exit of a significant number of associates and paralegals. We might receive a different answer to that question if posed today.

Case load increase

Case load increase

Consultant or No Consultant
The question “Have you ever hired an electronic discovery consultant or firm?” provided another surprise. Eightythree percent of the respondents indicated that they had not hired an eDiscovery consultant or firm, up from 63% last year. The companies being hired also showed some surprises, with all the leading names mentioned last year losing ground except for Kroll (25%), which remained the same. Lexis-Nexis Applied Discovery dropped from 20% to 16%, Fios from 19% to 16% and EED from 15% to 6% .

eDiscovery firms hired

eDiscovery firms hired

The biggest winners here were DTI with 22% and “other,” which covered a wide range of single choices amounting to 39% of the total responses. The breakdown was similar to last year in that the respondents answering “yes” to the consultant question were the large firm attorneys with high-value cases. The respondents answering “no” were predominately solepractitioners and small firms. Since these firms represented a larger percentage of the respondents this year, the fact these firms tend to perform a high percentage of their eDiscovery work in-house heavily influences the answers.

Software of Choice
The two most popular products listed as a response to the question about products are once again Summation at (59%, down from 64% last year) and Concordance (level at 47%). After these two, only CaseLogistix , at 10%, had a double digit response with all others coming in at under 7% or less.

eDiscovery Products

eDiscovery Products

This year, a much higher number of respondents answered the question about rating the software they used (50% against 30% last year) and of those 38% found the software “very effective” with 28% saying it was also “cost effective.” Twenty-five percent, however, found the software they used too expensive, and 16% said it was “not very effective.”

On the Web
Once again this year, the number of respondents using a Web-based application to host their eDiscovery documents provided a surprise, increasing to 77% from 66% last year. The most often-mentioned product was once again iConnect, but its share dropped from 25% to 16%. CaseLogistix moved up significantly to second place (from 5% to 13%). Of the remaining Web vendors, only Catalyst remained at the same level (8%), while all other responses dropped including Lextranet (17% to 9%), FYI (10% to 7%) and CaseCentral (10% to 7%). This category once again claimed the most curious statistics with 11% of the respondents saying they DIDN’T KNOW what Web application they were using, down slightly from 11% last year!

eDiscovery Web providers

eDiscovery Web providers

Only 21% of the respondents answered the question about rating their web-based tools. Of those, 25% found the software “very effective,” and 26% felt it was also “cost effective.” Twenty-three percent, however, found the software they used too expensive and 12% said it was “not very effective.”

Most Important Issues Regarding eDiscovery
Last year, the one eDiscovery issue that the majority of respondents felt was most important was cost, although at 20% it was not a dominant response. Education on the eDiscovery issues, which last year garnered only a 12% response, was third this year at 22%, just ahead of judicial decisions at 20%. Both have been supplanted by more practical issues such as data collection (32%) and review expenses (30%), and the fact that these four answers constituted 72% of the total seems to indicate that the users of eDiscovery products are becoming more feature conscious than they have been in the past.

At the same time, the vendor market is in a transition period, with older, established companies losing ground and new players gaining in prominence. The increased usage of Web based applications is clearly cutting into the market share of well-known, older products such as Summation and Concordance.

Conclusion
Last year, 7% of respondents said “I have no idea” in answer to the question on the most important issue. This year, one person gave that answer. This seems to me to show an overall rising of the attention level to eDiscovery issues, which is heartening. As eDiscovery continues to cut across all the legal demographics of firm size, case values and attorneys, we are seeing a clear increase in understanding of both the scope and magnitude of the challenges this brings.

Most important eDiscovery issues

Most important eDiscovery issues

Just as last year, the eDiscovery market continues to grow, but we are now seeing the beginnings of some stabilization in both awareness of issues and the level of understanding necessary to control those issues.

Author Tom OConnor

Author, Tom O'Connor

About the author: Tom O’Connor is the director of the Legal Electronic Documents Institute. Mr. O’Connor is a nationally-known consultant, speaker and writer in the area of computerized litigation support systems. His involvement with large cases led him to become familiar with dozens of software applications for litigation support and he has both designed databases and trained legal staffs in their use of eDiscovery tools. Mr. O’Connor is the author of The Automated Law Firm, a guide to computer systems and software published by Aspen Law & Business, now in its fourth edition, and The Lawyers Guide to Summation, published by the ABA.

~ by CDLB on April 1, 2009.

One Response to “eDiscovery Survey Results – 2nd Study of Illinois Lawyers”

  1. […] Company of Chicago.  The results were released at the ABA TechShow last week and can be found at LexTek, the legal blog maintained by Dave Glynn  . The number of attorneys responding increased 64% over […]

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