Legal advice service concept with woman using a tablet

CEDS: The Tech-To-Lawyer and Lawyer-To-Tech Dictionary?

A guest blog post by ACEDS advisory board member Jeff Jacobson

Before I studied for and passed the CEDS exam, I thought I “knew” e-discovery. In fairness, I’m sure I did know more about the subject that 99% of practicing lawyers, and as a “Big Law” partner I had overseen many complex e-discovery projects. What I did not have, however, was the level of technical knowledge necessary to trouble-shoot problems alongside my firm’s professional e-discovery staff.

I encouraged some of the non-lawyer e-discovery professionals with whom I worked to become CEDS certified, too. They came to the process knowing the technical details cold, but once they passed the CEDS exam, they understood much better the legal requirements driving their work. Between their coming just a little closer to my knowledge of the law, and my coming just a little closer to their knowledge of how various search tools and review platforms function, our ability to collaborate increased tremendously.

It’s not necessary to think of the CEDS certification as a “Rosetta Stone” that will let lawyers function without e-discovery professionals, or vice versa. That’s not the point. Every day, lawyers find ways to educate themselves about their clients’ businesses in order to become more valuable to their clients. Every firm has clients that will face significant e-discovery challenges. If you are a lawyer who has an affinity and an aptitude for e-discovery—and, if you’re reading this, you probably are—why wouldn’t you want to take the next step to increase your value to your firm and its clients? The same question applies to e-discovery professionals who have management aspirations and want to learn more about the law governing their field.

If, like me a few years ago, you think you know “enough,” sign up for the CEDS exam and start looking through the study materials. If you’re already truly fluent, the worst that will happen is you add a credential that demonstrates your fluency. I suspect it’s more likely, however, that the CEDS exam process will teach you at least a few things you didn’t know as well as you thought. And when that extra knowledge lets you solve a client’s problem, or avoid what would have been a costly mistake, you’ll be thankful you invested the time to learn.

Coronavirus-Mask

COVID-19 Constrained? The Impact of Six Issues on the Business of eDiscovery

Editor’s Note: The results of the recent Spring 2020 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey present the unfortunate impact of COVID-19 on the business of eDiscovery. However, for these pandemic-driven results and their potential impact on the business of eDiscovery to be fully understood, they should be viewed through the contextual lens of the results of all eighteen surveys that have been administered to eDiscovery professionals since the inception of the eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey in early 2016.

Budgetary Constraints: A Current Concern for eDiscovery Professionals

The eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey is a nonscientific quarterly survey designed to provide insight into the business confidence level of individuals working in the eDiscovery ecosystem. The survey consists of nine core multiple-choice questions focused on factors related to the creation, delivery, and consumption of eDiscovery products and services. Additionally, the survey contains three optional questions focused on the business operational metrics of days sales outstanding (DSO), monthly recurring revenue (MRR), and revenue distribution across customer bases.

Initiated in January 2016, the survey has been administered eighteen times with 2,089 individual responses. The survey is open to legal, business, and information technology professionals operating in the eDiscovery ecosystem, and individuals are invited to participate primarily via direct email invitations.

The latest survey was administered in the spring of 2020 and had 172 respondents in roles that included tactical execution (36.0%), operational management (35.5%), and executive leadership (28.5%). Industry segments represented in the survey included law firms (36.6%), software and service providers (29.1%), consultancies (16.9%), corporations (9.9%), governmental entities (4.7%), media and research professionals (1.7%), and others (1.2%).

One of the questions in the quarterly survey asks participants to select from a listing of six choices the issue they view as potentially having the most impact on their eDiscovery business during the next six months. The issues presented include:

  • Budgetary Constraints
  • Data Security
  • Inadequate Technology
  • Increasing Types of Data
  • Increasing Volumes of Data
  • Lack of Personnel

While not all-inclusive, the listing of issues provides a realistic overview of potential areas that appear to have a direct and ongoing impact on the business of eDiscovery.

Based on the aggregate results of past surveys, the following findings and charted overviews of responses to the question of issues impacting business may be helpful in understanding the collective mindset of many industry experts regarding these issues and their impact on the business of eDiscovery.

Six Key Findings in the Spring of 2020

  • In the spring of 2020, 51.2% of respondents viewed budgetary constraints as potentially having the greatest business impact on their business in the next six months. This percentage is the highest of all concerns represented in the survey and also is the highest rating for any business performance concern since the inception of the survey. This is also the tenth time in eighteen surveys that the issue of budgetary constraints has been the top concern or tied for the top concern by survey respondents. (Charts 1,2, and 3)
  • Increasing data volumes continue to be a consistent concern for eDiscovery professionals with 16.3% of spring survey respondents viewing data volume challenges as potentially having a substantial impact on business in the next six months. However, the level of respondent concern in this area is the lowest since the inception of the survey. (Chart 4)
  • The impact of a lack of personnel on eDiscovery business performance decreased slightly during the last quarter and is the top concern for 11% of survey respondents. (Chart 5)
  • The percentage of respondents that viewed increasing types of data as a top business concern decreased significantly in the last quarter from 25.3% in the winter of 2020 to only 8.1% in the spring of 2020. This is also the lowest rating in the category since the inception of the survey. (Chart 6)
  • The percentage of respondents viewing the impact of data security as a top business issue decreased 4.2% from the last quarter and is now viewed as the top concern by 8.1% of survey respondents. (Chart 7)
  • In the spring of 2020, the impact of inadequate technology as the top business issue decreased by 2.3% from the last quarter and is now viewed as the top concern by only 5.2% of survey respondents. This is the lowest rating of any business performance impact concern in the spring 2020 survey. It is also is the sixteenth time in eighteen surveys that the impact of inadequate technology has been rated as the lowest area of business performance concern by survey respondents. (Chart 8)

Considering Eighteen Quarters of Results from 2016 to 2020

From a top issue perspective, the following potential issues and the number of quarterly times they have been considered the top concern by survey respondents is shared to create context as to the cyclical concerns of eDiscovery professionals.

  • Budgetary Constraints: The top concern ten times in eighteen quarters (3x Winter*, 3x Spring, 2x Summer, 2x Fall).
  • Increasing Volumes of Data: The top concern six times in eighteen quarters (2x Winter*, 2x Spring, 1x Summer, 1x Fall).
  • Increasing Types of Data: The top concern three times in eighteen quarters (1x Winter, 1x Summer, 1x Fall).
  • Data Security: Never ranked as the top concern.
  • Lack of Personnel: Never ranked as the top concern.
  • Inadequate Technology: Never ranked as the top concern.

* Top concern tie between Budgetary Constraints and Increasing Volumes of Data in the Winter of 2017.

Survey Charts

(Charts Can Be Expanded for Detailed Viewing)


Chart 1: An Aggregate Overview of Issues Impacting eDiscovery Business Performance

1-Issues-Impacting-eDiscovery-Business-Performance-Aggregate-Spring-2020

 


Chart 2: An Overview of Issues Impacting eDiscovery Business Performance in the Spring of 2020

2-Issues-Impacting-eDiscovery-Business-Performance-Spring-2020

 


Chart 3: An Overview of the Percentage of Respondents Viewing Budgetary Constraints as the Top Issue Impacting eDiscovery Business

3-Impact-of-Budgetary-Constraints-on-eDiscovery-Business-Aggregate-Spring-2020

 


Chart 4: An Overview of the Percentage of Respondents Viewing Increasing Volumes of Data as the Top Issue Impacting eDiscovery Business

4-Impact-of-Increasing-Volumes-of-Data-on-eDiscovery-Business-Aggregate-Spring-2020

 


Chart 5: An Overview of the Percentage of Respondents Viewing Lack of Personnel as the Top Issue Impacting eDiscovery Business

5-Impact-of-Lack-of-Personnel-on-eDiscovery-Business-Aggregate-Spring-2020

 


Chart 6: An Overview of the Percentage of Respondents Viewing Increasing Types of Data as the Top Issue Impacting eDiscovery Business

6-Impact-of-Increasing-Types-of-Data-on-eDiscovery-Business-Aggregate-Spring-2020

 


Chart 7: An Overview of the Percentage of Respondents Viewing Data Security as the Top Issue Impacting eDiscovery Business

7-Impact-of-Data-Security-on-eDiscovery-Business-Aggregate-Spring-2020

 


Chart 8: An Overview of the Percentage of Respondents Viewing Inadequate Technology as the Top Issue Impacting eDiscovery Business

8-Impact-of-Inadequate-Technology-on-eDiscovery-Business-Aggregate-Spring-2020

 


Running Listing of Survey Results


Chart 9: Survey Participant Overview

9-Survey-Participant-Overview-Aggregate-Spring-2020

Additional Reading

Source: ComplexDiscovery

ACEDS_Mentor_Program

ACEDS Draws on Power and Skills of E-Discovery Community to Launch Mentorship Program

Volunteer-led initiative pairs up-and-coming e-discovery professionals with seasoned veterans to bolster skills, exchange best practices, strengthen community relationships

EAGAN, Minn.April 22, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS), the world’s leading e-discovery training and certification professional association and part of The BARBRI Group, is today leveraging the power and professional expertise of its e-discovery community with a new Mentorship Program.

This volunteer-led initiative pairs early-career e-discovery professionals as mentees with veteran practitioners who serve as coaches/mentors. As a result, novice professionals will have a ready resource to help them explore career development possibilities, achieve their professional goals, and prepare for the CEDS exam. Conversely, mentors have the opportunity to coach committed new professionals, and invest in building and strengthening the overall community.

“Our ACEDS professionals are known for an unmatched commitment to ‘paying it forward’ and for improving the expertise of the greater community,” said Mike Quartararo, president ACEDS and professional development. “The mentorship program will provide opportunities for knowledgeable leaders to coach junior, committed newcomers, and give even greater opportunities to those with limited experience. We are confident this will build relationships and foster an exchange of best practices across the country.”

Mentors, each of whom will be CEDS-certified with many years of e-discovery experience, have the opportunity to commit to either a long-term or abbreviated program. ACEDS will facilitate initial pairings, after which the mentors and mentees will work independently and then report back to ACEDS the outcome of the partnership.

To learn more about the program, visit https://www.aceds.org/page/mentorship

About ACEDS
The Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS), part of leading legal education provider The BARBRI Group, is a global member-based association for professionals who work in e-discovery, information governance, compliance and the broader legal community. ACEDS provides training and certification in e-discovery and related disciplines to corporate legal departments, law firms, the government, service providers and institutions of higher learning. The CEDS certification is recognized around the world and used to verify skills and competence in electronic discovery for organizations and individuals through training, certification and ongoing education. The CEDS credential is held by practitioners at the largest Fortune 500 companies, Am Law 200 firms and government agencies. ACEDS has 23 chapters, with locations in most major U.S. cities, the UK, IrelandCanadathe Netherlands and South Africa (with Australia and South America chapters coming soon). Our goal is to help professionals and organizations reduce the costs and risks associated with e-discovery while helping to improve and verify their skills and advance their careers and overall technology competence in e-discovery and related fields. http://www.aceds.org/

Judge gavel and tablet computer on table

Making the Most of Presentation Technology: Software, Equipment, People

Presentation technology is a powerful persuasive tool. Sophisticated demonstratives, deposition video clips and exhibit callout and annotation tools help lawyers advocate more effectively. Moreover, using technology is efficient and reduces the total time of the proceedings. That cuts costs for the client and wins points with judge and jury.

Two Things Legal Professionals Need to Know About Presentation Technology Software

The first step in using presentation technology is selecting the best software for your needs.

As background knowledge legal professionals should know two things. First, the distinction between dynamic and non-dynamic content. Second, the comparative advantages of trial presentation software for exhibits and video depositions.

Dynamic content is most often associated with demonstratives. PowerPoint slides are familiar and ubiquitous. In addition to opening and closing argument, I’ve seen PowerPoint used to good effect to illustrate expert witness testimony. Animation and timeline builders are other commonly used types of dynamic content.

The same software is typically used both to create and display dynamic content demonstratives. The goal is to derive maximum value from content created with feature-rich software.

In contrast, exhibits that started life as dynamic content (e.g., PowerPoints) are ordinarily converted to a non-dynamic file type like PDF for display. However, an exhibit should be displayed in native format using the file-creation software if evidentiary value would be lost in file conversion.

Deposition transcripts and audio/video files, multimedia file exhibits and (the great majority of) document exhibits are non-dynamic content. This content can be displayed using trial presentation software such as TrialDirector and Sanction. Alternatively, it can be displayed using common desktop software like Adobe Acrobat, Word and Windows Media Player.

Presentation software’s considerable advantages over desktop software include:

  • Zoom and callout tools, including single or multiple callouts that can be freely arranged on the page;
  • Annotation tools such as highlight, arrow and underline with multi-color selection;
  • Side-by-side display of two exhibits;
  • Robust clip creation and editing functions specifically designed for video depositions;
  • Side-by-side display of deposition video and an exhibit that is the subject of testimony.

Factors to consider in making your software selection include matter type, venue, presentation length and complexity, anticipated use of video depositions and the number of exhibits. Of course, budget and staffing availability also play a role.

Equipment Basics for Courtroom Display

Once you’ve selected your software, the immediate next step is to confirm you have a laptop computer with the recommended hardware specifications. For desktop software, confirm you’re on the latest version of the program.

The bigger piece of the equipment puzzle is the venue display system. There are three basic configurations:

  • Single screen – Large flat screen or projector and screen.
  • Monitors – Individual monitors at the tables. The standard federal courtroom system has monitors at the bench, clerk’s desk, witness stand, counsel tables and built into the jury box.
  • Hybrid –Single screen with supplemental monitors placed where there isn’t a good sightline to the main screen; for instance, witness stand is next to the main screen facing the jury box.

Follow this simple decision tree to evaluate display system options:

  1. Does the venue offer adequate audio/visual equipment? If not,
  2. Can your firm or client supply the necessary equipment? (If all you need is a projector and portable screen, the answer may well be yes.) If not,
  3. Is there a local equipment rental vendor?

If you reached the third question and answered yes, the concluding step is to assess equipment needs, cost and budget.

Good Teamwork Makes Good Presentations

Technology doesn’t run itself. You also need the right people on your team.

A successful presentation is a collaborative effort before and during the proceedings. The principal roles are:

  • Preparing exhibits and depositions;
  • Creating demonstratives;
  • Presenting evidence and demonstratives (commonly referred to as “trial tech” or “hotseat”);
  • Equipment assembly, setup and teardown;
  • On-call technology troubleshooting.

It’s common for team members to fill multiple roles. Nonetheless, it’s helpful to consider these roles separately because the tasks require different skillsets and experience. Time commitments – both how much time and when it will be needed – also vary.

This is the second installment in a three-part series. Part one was an overview of presentation technology for legal advocacy. Next up is strategies to avoid three of the most common mistakes in using presentation technology.

Pause

A Cause to Pause? eDiscovery Operational Metrics in the Spring of 2020

The Kinetics of Three eDiscovery Business Metrics in the Spring of 2020

The eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey is a non-scientific quarterly survey designed to provide insight into the business confidence level of individuals working in the eDiscovery ecosystem. The survey consists of nine core multiple-choice questions focused on factors related to the creation, delivery, and consumption of eDiscovery products and services. Additionally, the survey includes the following three optional questions focused on the business operational metrics of days sales outstanding (DSO), monthly recurring revenue (MRR), and revenue distribution across customer bases.

  • How would you characterize the trajectory of your organization’s Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) during the last quarter? DSO represents the average number of days it takes credit sales to be converted into cash, or when a company’s account receivables can be collected.
  • How would you characterize the trajectory of your organization’s Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) during the last quarter? MRR is income that a company can reliably anticipate every 30 days. Revenue from one-time purchases billed at the time of purchase is not included in MRR.
  • Which of the following statements best describes the distribution of your organization’s revenue across your customer base during the last quarter? Distribution is the reduction of revenue concentration across the customer base. The customer base is the group of customers who repeatedly purchase the products or services of a business.

Survey participants were presented with four potential answers to the optional business operational metric questions and asked to select one. The choices were as follows:

  • Increasing
  • Unfluctuating
  • Decreasing
  • Do Not Know

The three optional questions regarding business operational metrics were introduced into the quarterly eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey during the winter 2019 survey and to date, almost 800 individual responses to these optional questions have been received over the course of six surveys.

The aggregate results of the answers to the business operational metric questions are shared in the following observations and charted overviews. They provide an interesting vector view of the trajectories of these important measurements and the results may also be helpful to business and legal professionals as they consider the current conditions and trends in the business of data and legal discovery.

Key Observations in the Spring of 2020

General

  • In the spring of 2020, 150 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey participants chose to answer at least one of the optional business operational metric survey questions in the quarterly survey. This is higher than the number of participants that answered the optional business metrics questions in the winter 2020 survey when 124 survey participants responded to at least one optional business operational metric survey question.
  • In the spring of 2020, 87.2% of eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey participants chose to answer at least one of the optional business operational metric questions in the quarterly survey. This is an increase in percentage from the 84.9% of participants answering the optional business operational metric questions in the winter of 2020 survey.
  • In the spring 2020 survey, between 33.3% and 43.3% of the respondents (depending on the question) did not know whether DSO, MRR, or distribution of customer revenue-based measures were increasing, unfluctuating, or decreasing.

Days Sales Outstanding (Chart 1)

  • Exactly 19.3% of survey respondents reported DSO as increasing in the spring of 2020. This is a negligible decrease from 19.4% reporting DSO as increasing in the winter of 2020. This is also the second-highest percentage of respondents reporting DSO as increasing since the introduction of operational metric questions into the business confidence survey.
  • There was a decrease (12.7%) in the spring 2020 percentage (22%) of respondents reporting DSO as unfluctuating when compared to winter 2020 reporting (34.7%). This is also the lowest percentage of respondents reporting DSO as unfluctuating since the introduction of operational metric questions into the business confidence survey.
  • 15.3% of survey respondents reported DSO as decreasing in the spring of 2020. This is a significant increase from reporting in the winter of 2020 when only 6.4% of respondents noted decreasing DSO.

Monthly Recurring Revenue (Chart 2)

  • There was a dramatic decrease (19.4%) in the spring 2020 percentage (15.3%) of respondents reporting increasing MRR when compared to winter 2020 reporting (34.7%). This is the lowest percentage of respondents reporting MRR as increasing since the introduction of operational metric questions into the business confidence survey.
  • There was a slight increase (0.3%) in the spring 2020 percentage (25.3%) of respondents reporting MRR as unfluctuating when compared to winter 2020 reporting (25%)
  • Exactly 26% of survey respondents reported Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) as decreasing in the spring of 2020. This is a significant increase from the 10% reporting MRR as decreasing in the winter of 2020 and is the highest percentage of respondents reporting MRR as decreasing since the introduction of business operational metric questions to the eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey in the winter of 2019.

Distribution of Revenue Across Customer Base (Chart 3)

  • The percentage of survey respondents reporting an increasing distribution of revenue across their customer base significantly decreased (24.3%) between the winter of 2020 (40.3%) and the spring of 2020 (16%). This is also the lowest percentage of respondents reporting increasing distribution of revenue across their customer base since the introduction of operational metric questions into the business confidence survey.
  • There was an increase (4.2%) in the spring 2020 percentage (30%) of respondents reporting the distribution of revenue across their customer base as unfluctuating when compared to winter 2020 reporting (25.8%). This is also the highest percentage of respondents reporting unfluctuating distribution of revenue across their customer base since the introduction of operational metric questions into the business confidence survey.
  • There was also a strong increase (11.4%) in the percentage of survey respondents reporting a decrease in revenue distribution across their customer base, with 18.7% reporting a decreasing distribution of revenue in the spring of 2020. This is also the highest percentage of respondents reporting decreasing distribution of revenue across their customer base since the introduction of operational metric questions into the business confidence survey.

Survey Charts

(Charts Can Be Expanded for Detailed Viewing)


Chart 1: An Aggregate Overview of Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) Trajectory

1-An-Aggregate-Overview-of-DSO-Spring-2020

 


Chart 2: An Aggregate Overview of Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) Trajectory

2-An-Aggregate-Overview-of-MRR-Spring-2020

 


Chart 3: An Aggregate Overview of Distribution of Revenue Across Customer Base

3-An-Aggregate-Overview-of-Customer-Revenue-Distribution-Spring-2020

Running Listing of eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey Results

Additional Reading

Source: ComplexDiscovery

hand holding pen on check list paper

Making the Case for Checklists

It is common to misconceive how checklists function in complex lines of work. They are not comprehensive how-to guides … they are quick and simple tools aimed to buttress the skills of expert professionals.” — Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto

Like a surgeon with her scalpel in hand about to perform surgery, there are more than a dozen different things that could potentially go wrong or potentially fatal. She must draw upon all her years of schooling, memorization, residency, internships, similar surgeries, and simultaneously be able to act on the fly and improvise as well. A seemingly impossible feat for anyone who is not a surgeon to comprehend. Yet, it happens successfully often in hospitals across the country. Is it just the knowledge of the surgeon and nurses, or is there something else? Indeed, there is — it is a checklist. 

I have now read The Checklist Manifesto twice. I first read it years ago when Gawande first published the book in 2010. What astonished me the most as I read the book, is how incredible it is to think that surgeons, pilots, astronauts, chefs, engineers, and many more professionals around the world rely heavily upon one simple little tool — a checklist.  

The checklist is the defensive tool that helps save countless lives in an operating room, keeping customers on an airplane safe, and ensures the walls, ceilings, floors, and roofs do not fall apart like a card tower in office buildings and shops. The checklist contains everything that must be done in the order in which has to be carried out for people to feel safe, and even for food to come out correctly. 

So where is the connection to the legal profession? Everywhere. Interestingly enough, however, in nearly 20 years I have not seen a standard set of checklists produced that we can all agree upon; especially when it comes to e-discovery. I practiced in the early 2000s as a young lawyer and do not ever recall there being checklists on what must get done right before and after depositions, a checklist before filing a motion for summary judgment, a motion before case management conference before the judge, et cetera. In truth, I would have loved a checklist to make sure all my appendices and exhibits were copied correctly and tabbed the right way. (I will never forget the meeting I had with my partner afterward!) It is something that is seemingly so trite, yet so critical. Again, as Gawande says, it is not a howto inasmuch as it is the minimum necessary steps to ensure that even the most well-versed experts do not inadvertently miss something critical. 

Fast forward nearly 20 years later, and the landscape of electronic discovery and discoverable data is vastly more complex and mind-numbing. The types of data that is being created, the locations in which this data is being created, and the compliance necessary to ensure that the data is protected per Rule 1.6(c) of the Professional Rules of Responsibility can be overwhelming. Yet, notwithstanding all the intricacies contained within the Rules for e-discovery and guidance that is out there, there does not appear to be anything standardized in the detailed nuances of collecting custodial data, preserving data, copying data from one location to the next, ingesting data, and so on. To be fair, there are instructions with each software program that is specific to said application, there guidance published by the Practical Law Institute, and other great organizations. But there are no checklists in which the wording is “simple and exact”…“ideally, it should fit on one page…free of clutter and unnecessary colors…use both uppercase and lowercase text for ease of reading.”

Think of some of the most common mistakes that occur, which lead to an increase in motion practice about e-discovery. There is the most obvious one, which is the inadvertent disclosure of privileged material. A few checkboxes would have been helpful there, including one for the attorney about whether she negotiated a R. 502(d) Order in advance. What about not confirming the form or forms of production? How about not confirming production requirements?  

Whether you are a law firm, in-house legal department, or a service provider, I encourage all of you reading this article to go back and look at your standard operating procedures, if you have them. Review any checklists you may already have in place. Then, ask yourselves what checklists could we have that should be executed against that would both reduce errors, reduce costs, and simultaneously increase overall success and satisfaction? What would you do differently that would increase your overall effectiveness? What are the minimal, necessary steps that we must all do as well-versed professionals to ensure that we are no inadvertently missing something critical before a production goes out the door? 

If you do not think that there can be an operational and precision-based approach to e-discovery because of the multiple variables involved and software applications being used in the market — think again. Just as the surgeon must follow a checklist in performing complicated lifesaving surgeries, then so too can all of us, as legal professionals, find ways to use checklists as well. As Gawande says, “Just ticking boxes is not the ultimate goal here. Embracing a culture of teamwork and discipline is.” But first, pick up a copy of the Checklist Manifesto – you’ll be glad that you did! 

Budgetary Constraints

Budgetary Constraints? Eighteen Observations on eDiscovery Business Confidence in the Spring of 2020

Editor’s Note: The results of the recent Spring 2020 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey present the unfortunate impact of COVID-19 on the business of eDiscovery. However, for these pandemic-driven results to be fully understood, they should be viewed through the contextual lens of the results of all eighteen surveys that have been administered to eDiscovery professionals since the inception of the eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey in early 2016.

The Business of eDiscovery in the Spring of 2020

The eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey is a nonscientific quarterly survey designed to provide insight into the business confidence level of individuals working in the eDiscovery ecosystem. The survey consists of nine core multiple-choice questions focused on factors related to the creation, delivery, and consumption of eDiscovery products and services. Additionally, the survey contains three optional questions focused on the business operational metrics of days sales outstanding (DSO), monthly recurring revenue (MRR), and revenue distribution across customer bases.

Specific survey questions include:

  • Which of the following segments best describes your business in eDiscovery?
  • How would you rate the current general business conditions for eDiscovery in your segment?
  • How do you think the business conditions will be in your segment six months from now?
  • How would you guess revenue in your segment of the eDiscovery ecosystem will be six months from now?
  • How would you guess profits in your segment of the eDiscovery ecosystem will be six months from now?
  • Of the six items presented below, what is the issue that you feel will most impact the business of eDiscovery over the next six months?
  • In which geographical region do you primarily conduct eDiscovery-related business?
  • What are best describes your primary function in the conduct of your organization’s eDiscovery-related business?
  • What are best describes your level of support in the conduct of your organization’s eDiscovery-related business?
  • How would you characterize the trajectory of your organization’s Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) during the last quarter?
  • How would you characterize the trajectory of your organization’s Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) during the last quarter?
  • Which of the following statements best describes the distribution of your organization’s revenue across your customer base during the last quarter?

Initiated in January 2016, the survey has been administered eighteen times with 2,089 individual responses. The survey is open to legal, business, and information technology professionals operating in the eDiscovery ecosystem, and individuals are invited to participate primarily via direct email invitations.

The latest survey was administered in the spring of 2020 and had 172 respondents in roles that included tactical execution (36.0%), operational management (35.5%), and executive leadership (28.5%).Industry segments represented in the survey included law firms (36.6%), software and service providers (29.1%), consultancies (16.9%), corporations (9.9%), governmental entities (4.7%), media and research professionals (1.7%), and others (1.2%).

Based on the aggregate results of eighteen past surveys, the following findings and charted overviews of responses to survey questions may help in understanding the collective mindset of many industry experts regarding the business of eDiscovery.

Eighteen Survey Observations

Observations on Business Conditions (Charts 1-4)

Business Climate (Chart 1 and 2)

  • Just over 68% (68.6%) of eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey respondents felt the current business conditions are good or normal in the spring of 2020. This combined confidence level represents a 22.5% decrease in these same feelings when compared to the winter of 2020 where 91.1% felt the conditions were good or normal.
  • Exactly 27.3% of survey respondents characterized the current business climate as good. This represents a decrease from 50.0% of respondents who viewed the business climate as good in the winter of 2020. This significant decrease from the winter of 2020 represents a conservative pessimism in the current general business climate for eDiscovery.
  • Almost 31% (31.4%) of respondents classified the current business condition as bad. This represents a strong increase of 22.5% in this area over the last quarter. This is also the highest percentage of respondents viewing the current business conditions as bad since the inception of the survey and represents a distinct cooling of business confidence.
  • In the spring of 2020, 37.8% of eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey respondents felt that business climate conditions will be better in six months. This is lower than sentiment in the winter of 2020, where 43.8% of survey respondents felt that the business conditions would be better in six months. This is the lowest percentage of respondents since the inception of the survey who felt that business conditions would be better in six months.
  • The number of survey respondents that felt the business conditions will remain the same in six months decreased significantly to 39.5%. This is the second-lowest rating in this area since the inception of the survey and further represents a cooling of business confidence.
  • The number of respondents expecting the business climate of eDiscovery to be worse in six months increased to 22.7% in the spring of 2020, up 20% from the winter of 2020. This is also the highest percentage of respondents who felt the business climate will be worse in six months since the inception of the survey, further accentuating the reported cooling of business confidence.

Revenue Expectations (Chart 3)

  • In the spring of 2020, 32% of survey respondents felt that revenue in the next sixth months will be higher than today.This percentage is significantly lower than sentiment on this metric in the winter of 2020 (51.4%) and is the lowest rating in this area since the inception of the survey.
  • Approximately one-third of the survey respondents (33.7%) felt that revenue in the next six months would not change. This represents a solid 10.8% decrease quarter over quarter from 44.5% in the winter of 2020.
  • The percentage of respondents who felt that revenue in six months will be lower than today increased from 4.1% in the winter of 2020 to 34.3% in the spring of 2020. This is the highest percentage of respondents who felt this sentiment in this area since the inception of the survey.

Profit Expectations (Chart 4)

  • One-fourth of survey respondents (25%) felt that profits will be higher in six months than they are today. This is a strong decrease from the winter of 2020 when 35.6% of respondents estimated profits to be higher in six months.
  • The percentage of respondents who felt that profits will be the same in six months decreased significantly quarter over quarter from 54.1% in the winter of 2020 to 39.5% in the spring of 2020. This represents the third lowest respondent rating in this area since the inception of the survey.
  • The percentage of respondents who felt that profits in six months will be lower than today increased dramatically quarter over quarter from 10.3% in the winter of 2020 to 35.5% in the spring of 2020. This is the highest percentage of respondents with this sentiment in this area since the inception of the survey.

Observations on Business Impact Factors (Chart 5)

  • In the spring of 2020, 51.2% of respondents viewed budgetary constraints as potentially having the greatest business impact on their business in the next six months. This percentage is the highest of all concerns represented in the survey and also is the highest rating for any business performance concern since the inception of the survey. This is also the tenth time in eighteen surveys that the issue of budgetary constraints has been the top concern or tied for the top concern by survey respondents.
  • Increasing data volumes continue to be a consistent concern for eDiscovery professionals with 16.3% of spring survey respondents viewing data volume challenges as potentially having a substantial impact on business in the next six months. However, the level of respondent concern in this area is the lowest since the inception of the survey.
  • The impact of a lack of personnel on eDiscovery business performance decreased slightly during the last quarter and is the top concern for 11% of survey respondents.
  • The percentage of respondents that viewed increasing types of data as a top business concern decreased significantly in the last quarter from 25.3% in the winter of 2020 to only 8.1% in the spring of 2020. This is also the lowest rating in the category since the inception of the survey.
  • The percentage of respondents viewing the impact of data security as a top business issue decreased 4.2% from the last quarter and is now viewed as the top concern by 8.1% of survey respondents.
  • In the spring of 2020, the impact of inadequate technology as the top business issue decreased by 2.3% from the last quarter and is now viewed as the top concern by only 5.2% of survey respondents. This is the lowest rating of any business performance impact concern in the spring 2020 survey. It is also is the fifteenth time in eighteen surveys that the impact of inadequate technology has been rated as the lowest area of business performance concern by survey respondents.

Survey Charts

(Charts Can Be Expanded for Detailed Viewing)

Chart 1: How would you rate the current general business conditions for eDiscovery in your segment?
Subjective feeling of business performance when compared with business expectations.

1-General-Climate-Overview-Aggregate

Chart 2: How do you think the business conditions will be in your segment six months from now?
Subjective feeling of business performance when compared with business expectations.

2-General-Climate-Overview+Six-Months-Aggregate

Chart 3: How would you guess revenue in your segment of the eDiscovery ecosystem will be six months from now? Revenue is income generated from eDiscovery-related business activities.

3-Revenue-Overview+Six-Months-Aggregate

Chart 4: How would you guess profits in your segment of the eDiscovery ecosystem will be six months from now? Profit is the amount of income remaining after accounting for all expenses, debts, additional revenue streams, and operating costs.

4-Profits-Overview+Six-Months-Aggregate

Chart 5: An Aggregate Overview of Issues Impacting eDiscovery Business Performance Challenges that may directly impact the business performance of your organization.

5-Issues-Impacting-eDiscovery-Business-Performance-Aggregate

Chart 6: Survey Participant Overview

6-Survey-Respondents-Individual-and-Aggregate-Overview

Chart 7: Survey Participant Level of Support Overview

7-Survey-Respondents-by-Level-of-Support-Aggregate

Chart 8: Survey Participant Industry Segment Overview

8-Survey-Respondents-by-Industry-Segment-Aggregate

Running Listing of Survey Results

Additional Reading

Source: ComplexDiscovery

Elite Discovery ACEDS Partnership

ACEDS Announces Elite Discovery as New Affiliate Partner

April 16, 2020EAGAN, Minn. – The Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS), the world’s leading e-discovery training and certification professional association and part of The BARBRI Group, is pleased to announce that Elite Discovery, a cloud-native e-discovery collaboration solutions provider, has signed on as an ACEDS Affiliate Partner.

Through the relationship, employees and partners of Elite Discovery will have access to ACEDS’ breadth of job tools and networking forums, a global chapter network and events and a best-practice-oriented worldwide community of professionals. As an ACEDS Affiliate Partner, Elite Discovery plays an important role in the global e-discovery community, leveraging and contributing to the community’s collective knowledge and expertise, and the association’s education, marketing, training and professional development resources.

“Elite Discovery offers a suite of expert services and strategic technology offerings that span the e-discovery spectrum and contribute to the professional community,” Mike Quartararo, CEDS, president, ACEDS and professional development, said. “The team is known for its commitment to education, certification and building the e-discovery profession, and we’re glad to welcome Elite Discovery employees and clients through this partnership.”

“Elite’s enhanced partnership with ACEDS demonstrates our commitment to identify and partner with the world’s premier education and certification leaders,” Elite Discovery CEO Terry Reeves said. “At Elite Discovery, our goal is to be thought-provoking and forward-thinking in a manner that aligns our internal team of experts with organizations like ACEDS to provide best practices to the legal community.”

About ACEDS
The Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS), part of leading legal education provider The BARBRI Group, is a global member-based association for professionals who work in e-discovery, information governance, compliance and the broader legal community. ACEDS provides training and certification in e-discovery and related disciplines to corporate legal departments, law firms, the government, service providers and institutions of higher learning. Our CEDS certification is recognized around the world and used to verify skills and competence in electronic discovery for organizations and individuals through training, certification and ongoing education. The CEDS credential is held by practitioners at the largest Fortune 500 companies, Am Law 200 firms and government agencies. ACEDS has 23 chapters, with locations in most major US cities, the UK, Ireland, Canada, the Netherlands and South Africa (with Australia and South America chapters coming soon). Our goal is to help professionals and organizations reduce the costs and risks associated with e-discovery while helping to improve and verify their skills and advance their careers and overall technology competence in e-discovery and related fields. http://www.aceds.org/

About Elite Discovery
At Elite Discovery, we believe every dollar you spend on eDiscovery should bring value to your corporation or law firm. That philosophy, combined with our client-first focus, has allowed Elite Discovery to lead the industry as one of the most highly awarded Alternative Legal Service Providers today. Since 2001, we have been innovating strategic solutions to any ESI challenge – from basic eDiscovery for litigation to government investigations and high-profile mergers and acquisitions, and our experts have successfully led the way. Partnering with Elite Discovery allows leaders in both law firms and corporations to have the cost predictability and control they need with the world-class security, cutting-edge technology, specific expertise, proven processes and instant scalability eDiscovery requires – so they may focus on key priorities critical to their company’s success.  Our award-winning services include risk management consulting, discovery consulting, forensic data preservation and collection, data analysis and workflow management, secure hosted document review, document coding, managed attorney review, project management support.  Our sister company, Elite Deposition Technologies, also offers process service and global court reporting. https://elitediscovery.com/

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Cindy Parks
913.526.6912
cindy@parkscommunications.com

Dandelion

Blown Away? eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey Results – Spring 2020

Editor’s Note: The results of this spring eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey present the unfortunate impact of COVID-19 on the business of eDiscovery. The results also paint a picture of the resilience and optimism of the people and providers of the eDiscovery ecosystem as shared by 172 legal, business, and technology professionals.

The eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey

The eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey is a non-scientific quarterly survey designed to provide insight into the business confidence level of individuals working in the eDiscovery ecosystem. The survey consists of nine core multiple-choice questions focused on factors related to the creation, delivery, and consumption of eDiscovery products and services. Additionally, the survey contains three optional questions focused on the business operational metrics of days sales outstanding (DSO), monthly recurring revenue (MRR), and revenue distribution across customer bases.

Initiated in early 2016, to date the survey has been administered eighteen times with 2,089 individual responses. The survey is open to legal, business, and information technology professionals operating in the eDiscovery ecosystem and individuals are invited to participate primarily via direct email invitations.

Spring 2020 Survey Results

The spring 2020 survey response period was initiated on April 2, 2020, and continued until the registration of 172 responses (April 15, 2020). Thanks to the support of the leadership at both the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS) and the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM), this quarter’s survey experienced strong response rates and presents a strong picture of the current confidence levels of participants and practitioners in the eDiscovery ecosystem.

While individual answers to the survey are confidential, the aggregate and unfiltered results are published to highlight the business confidence of participants regarding economic factors impacting the creation, delivery, and consumption of eDiscovery products and services during the spring of 2020.


Business Confidence Questions (Required)

n = 172 Respondents

1. Which of the following segments best describes your business in eDiscovery?
Part of the eDiscovery ecosystem where your organization resides.

  • Law Firm – 36.6% (Up from Winter 2020)
  • Software or Services Provider – 29.1% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Consultancy – 16.9% (Up from Winter 2020)
  • Corporation – 9.9% (Up from Winter 2020)
  • Governmental Entity – 4.7% (Up from Winter 2020)
  • Media/Research Organization – 1.7% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Other – 1.2% (Down from Winter 2020)
1-Survey-Respondents-by-Organizational-Segment-Spring-2020

2. How would you rate the current general business conditions for eDiscovery in your segment?
Subjective feeling of business performance when compared with business expectations.

  • Good – 27.3% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Normal – 41.3% (No Change from Winter 2020)
  • Bad – 31.4% (Up from Winter 2020)
2-Current-Business-Climate-Overview-Spring-2020

3. How do you think the business conditions will be in your segment six months from now?
Subjective feeling of business performance when compared with business expectations.

  • Better – 37.8% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Same – 39.5% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Worse – 22.7% (Up from Winter 2020)
3-Business-Climate-Overview+Six-Months-Spring-2020

4. How would you guess revenue in your segment of the eDiscovery ecosystem will be six months from now?
Revenue is income generated from eDiscovery-related business activities.

  • Higher – 32.0% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Same – 33.7% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Lower – 34.3% (Up from Winter 2020)
4-Revenue-Overview+Six-Months-Spring-2020

5. How would you guess profits in your segment of the eDiscovery ecosystem will be six months from now?
Profit is the amount of income remaining after accounting for all expenses, debts, additional revenue streams, and operating costs.

  • Higher – 25.0% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Same – 39.5% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Lower – 35.5% (Up from Winter 2020)
5-Profits-Overview+Six-Months-Spring-2020

6. Of the six items presented below, what is the issue that you feel will most impact the business of eDiscovery over the next six months?
Challenges that may directly impact the business performance of your organization.

  • Budgetary Constraints – 51.2% (Up from Winter 2020)
  • Increasing Volumes of Data – 16.3% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Lack of Personnel – 11.0% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Data Security – 8.1% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Increasing Types of Data – 8.1% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Inadequate Technology – 5.2% (Down from Winter 2020)
6-Issues-Impacting-eDiscovery-Business-Performance-Spring-2020

7. In which geographical region do you primarily conduct eDiscovery-related business?
The location from which you are basing your business assessments.

  • North America (United States) – 89.0% (Up from Winter 2020)
  • North America (Canada) – 4.7% (Up from Winter 2020)
  • Europe (UK) – 2.9% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Europe (Non-UK) – 1.2% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Middle East/Africa – 1.2% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Asia/Asia Pacific – 0.6% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Central/South America – 0.6% (Down from Winter 2020)
7-Survey-Respondents-by-Geographic-Region-Spring-2020

8. What are best describes your primary function in the conduct of your organization’s eDiscovery-related business?

  • Legal/Litigation Support – 76.2% (Up from Winter 2020)
  • Business/Business Support (All Other Business Functions) – 17.4% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • IT/Product Development – 6.4% (Down from Winter 2020)
8-Survey-Respondents-by-Primary-Function-Spring-2020

9. What are best describes your level of support in the conduct of your organization’s eDiscovery-related business?

  • Operational Management – 35.5% (Up from Winter 2020)
  • Tactical Execution – 36.0% (Up from Winter 2020)
  • Executive Leadership – 28.5% (Down from Winter 2020)
9-Survey-Respondents-by-Level-of-Support-Spring-2020

Business Metric Trajectory Questions (Optional)

10. How would you characterize the trajectory of your organization’s Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) during the last quarter?
n=150 Respondents

  • Increasing – 19.3% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Unfluctuating – 22.0% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Decreasing – 15.3% (Up from Winter 2020)
  • Do Not Know – 43.3% (Up from Winter 2020)
10-eDiscovery-Business-Metric-Trajectory-Days-Sales-Outstanding-Spring-2020

11. How would you characterize the trajectory of your organization’s Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) during the last quarter?
n=150 Respondents

  • Increasing – 15.3% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Unfluctuating – 25.3% (Up from Winter 2020)
  • Decreasing – 26.0% (Up From Winter 2020)
  • Do Not Know – 33.3% (Up from Winter 2020)
11-eDiscovery-Business-Metric-Trajectory-Monthly-Recurring-Revenue-Spring-2020

12. Which of the following statements best describes the distribution of your organization’s revenue across your customer base during the last quarter?
n=150 Respondents

  • Increasing – 16.0% (Down from Winter 2020)
  • Unfluctuating – 30.0% (Up from Winter 2020)
  • Decreasing – 18.7% (Up from Winter 2020)
  • Do Not Know – 35.3% (Up from Winter 2020)
12-eDiscovery-Business-Metric-Trajectory-Distribution-of-Revenue-Across-Customer-Base-Spring-2020

Past Survey Results

Source: ComplexDiscovery

Everlaw ACEDS Partnership

ACEDS Announces Continued Partnership with Everlaw, a Modern Cloud-Based E-Discovery Provider

April 14, 2020EAGAN, Minn. – The Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS), the world’s leading e-discovery training and certification professional association and part of The BARBRI Group, is pleased to announce that Everlaw, a cloud-native e-discovery solution that unlocks the collaborative power of teams, has renewed as an ACEDS Affiliate Partner.

As the digital universe expands rapidly, litigators and internal investigators are tasked with mining through mountains of data – the majority of which end up being irrelevant. Everlaw is a collaborative, cloud-based litigation platform that uses artificial intelligence to help legal teams uncover the needle-in-a-haystack pieces of information that can make or break a case.

Through this partnership, employees and partners of Everlaw can access ACEDS’ breadth of job tools and networking forums, a global chapter network and events, and a best-practice-oriented worldwide community of professionals. As an ACEDS Affiliate Partner, Everlaw plays an important role in the global ACEDS community, leveraging and contributing to the community’s collective knowledge and expertise, and the association’s education, marketing, training and professional development resources.

“When it comes to intuitive, highly functional cloud-based solutions in e-discovery, Everlaw entered the race fast and early and now they are a leader in the space. I’ve been both a customer and a fan for years,” said Mike Quartararo, CEDS, president, ACEDS and professional development. “ACEDS is thrilled to call Everlaw a partner and grateful to the entire Everlaw team for their contributions to the e-discovery community and our members specifically.”

“Ediscovery is a new imperative for legal teams today as they sift through troves of documents to build their cases,” said AJ Shankar, Everlaw’s CEO and co-founder. “Team collaboration is a key part of this process, and it’s equally important to collaborate with members of the industry. We’re thrilled to continue this partnership and remain a part of ACEDS’s community of ediscovery leaders and visionaries.”

About ACEDS
The Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS), part of leading legal education provider The BARBRI Group, is a global member-based association for professionals who work in e-discovery, information governance, compliance and the broader legal community. ACEDS provides training and certification in e-discovery and related disciplines to corporate legal departments, law firms, the government, service providers and institutions of higher learning. Our CEDS certification is recognized around the world and used to verify skills and competence in electronic discovery for organizations and individuals through training, certification and ongoing education. The CEDS credential is held by practitioners at the largest Fortune 500 companies, Am Law 200 firms and government agencies. ACEDS has 23 chapters, with locations in most major US cities, the UK, Ireland, Canada, the Netherlands and South Africa (with Australia and South America chapters coming soon). Our goal is to help professionals and organizations reduce the costs and risks associated with e-discovery while helping to improve and verify their skills and advance their careers and overall technology competence in e-discovery and related fields. http://www.aceds.org/

About Everlaw
Everlaw blends cutting-edge technology with modern design to help government entities, law firms, and corporations solve the toughest problems in the legal industry. Everlaw is used by Fortune 100 corporate counsels and household brands like Hilton and Dick’s Sporting Goods, 76 out of the AM Law 100, and all 50 U.S. state attorneys general. Based in Oakland, California, Everlaw is funded by top-tier investors, including CapitalG, Menlo Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, and K9 Ventures.

Learn more at https://www.everlaw.com.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Cindy Parks
913.526.6912
cindy@parkscommunications.com