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Law and The Data Explosion

At the end of last year, Symantec released a report entitled ‘Law & The Data Explosion’.

This interesting report looked at the growth in digital evidence and whether it is slowing down the legal process? Symantec studied 5,000 lawyers in ten countries and found that every single lawyer questioned confirmed that they struggled to cope with up to 50% more electronically stored information (ESI) per case than just five years ago.  A summary of their findings can be found below:

Too much information

Assembling the body of evidence required to mount a successful case has always been a challenge.  In times gone by investigators would often have to pick through thousands of hard copy documents for the information that could prove pivotal to a legal matter’s success.

The rise of ESI – in the form of emails, electronic documents etc. – was originally heralded as the end to the legal paper chase.  In practice, however, the powers of search technology have been limited by two factors: exponential growth in the amount of ESI that organisations now hold, and poor data management.

A losing battle                     

Far from being a theoretical or potential risk to the smooth running of the legal process, difficulties and delays associated with ESI are a real and current concern to lawyers.  Numerous case collapses, and widespread criticism of incidents such as Goldman Sachs delivery of five terabytes of information to the Financial Crisis Enquiry Committee, provide a vivid snapshot of limitations in many organisations eDiscovery capabilities. With information growth showing no signs of slowing down, the smooth running of the legal process depends on organisations and their lawyers getting to grips with the eDisclosure problem.

The rise of digital evidence

While the increased digitisation of all areas of commercial and public life is clearly slowing down some aspects of the legal process, advances in eDiscovery have also contributed to a significant number of legal successes.  When the lawyers polled were asked whether they had ever succeeded in a legal matter because of ESI identified and collected during an investigation that was later submitted as evidence, 98% of lawyers said they had.

The applications of digital evidence

High profile court cases have historically dominated the discussion surrounding eDisclosure, even though court proceedings represent less than a tenth of legal activity.  Symantec’s research indicated that 82% of lawyers searched ESI in response to litigation.  89% of lawyers questioned said that eDisclosure played a pivotal role in producing the data required to respond to requests for information relating to financial transactions and due diligence.

The changing face of evidence

The research confirmed that today’s legal professionals must deal with information in a much greater range of forms than ever before.  Emails were by far the most highly ranked file type, with 16% of lawyers saying they commonly searched it, closely followed by work processing documents at 10%, databases at 8% and spreadsheets at 2%. 31% of lawyers questioned said that the single most useful source of ESI was none other than the hard disk drives of individual computers.

Are you prepared for the information revolution?

The eDiscovery process can only be manageable if organisations take a strategic view of information management.  To be successful, the eDiscovery process needs to extend beyond the archive and must be able to locate, recover and preserve ESI from individual endpoint devices.  CYFOR eDisclosure solution supports these requirements.

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