What’s The Big Takeaway from LegalTech New York?

From this weeks post on the  Advanced Discovery blog

I’ve been home from New York for several days, and I’m still trying to absorb everything I saw at LegalTech, but here are a few preliminary observations.

Attendance was good and seemed a bit higher than last year in my entirely unscientific appraisal. eDiscovery was the major theme, with minors in analytics, security and international data issues.

The eDiscovery focus continues to shift to the left side of the EDRM model with an increased focus on data analytics and ECA/EDA. I’ve said for over 2 years now that the only way to control ED costs is through effective document management policies, and the focus now seems to be firmly on that approach.

Folks, the play is not for the law firm data…. it’s for the clients data! Clients are working more and more to pull early ED tasks, like data collection and culling in-house, and this is the way they will do it. The data is already in-house, they just need integrated tools to massage it before they send it to outside counsel.

The lack of reaction to this obvious shift in focus by clients seems to further support the observation of Judge John Facciolo. In his Legal Tech keynote address back in 2009, Judge Facciola stated that attorneys are lacking in technology skills, not from ignorance, but stubbornness. They simply aren’t taking the time to learn the basics of handling electronic data, and as a result, they don‘t really know what is important or what is just marketing fluff.

Judge Facciola’s observation was a major call to action because he said what many of us have known for years now: attorneys who willfully refuse to learn the most basic concepts of technology, let alone eDiscovery, waste the time of litigants, the money of their clients and the patience of judges.

However now it seems the focus is finally shifting. The California Bar Association is requiring technical competence. Law schools are finally beginning to implement eDiscovery courses in large numbers. More and more courts are requiring an affidavit of competency regarding eDiscovery.

And why not? Electronic filing of documents is required in all bankruptcy courts and all bankruptcy practitioners must take a 2 hour course in the ECF system before they can file documents. Why then would other courts not institute a similar requirement before they allow an attorney to file a motion involving eDiscovery?

The awareness we need is that eDiscovery is a process that begins with the data clients already have in their possession, and ends with data being produced to other litigants and even the court if the matter goes to trial. The real challenge is to get attorneys to pay attention to technology as an essential part of their practice, rather than think it is something they can pick up in a 60 minute CLE course or the exhibit hall of a national conference

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