Each year, technological advances help make our jobs and lives easier. Delve into the latest eDiscovery trends and how to prepare to take full advantage of the benefits, and learn some of the accompanying caveats. Let’s get started with the predictions for eDiscovery in 2024.

The Latest eDiscovery Trends
Providing much of the fuel for current and upcoming advancements, AI is reshaping the eDiscovery landscape. By making the legal process more efficient, cost-effective, and accessible, AI is revolutionizing the way legal professionals navigate electronic discovery. It isn’t the only beneficial development in this fast-changing area.

Natural Language Processing
The evolution of natural language processing is a game-changer in the field of legal data analysis. NLP has grown increasingly sophisticated, enabling legal professionals to conduct intricate searches and accurately retrieve pertinent information. It helps produce more intuitive and relevant searches, simplifying the process of identifying crucial evidence and streamlining document reviews.

A significant development in this arena is the refinement of predictive coding driven by machine learning capabilities known as GenAI. Predictive coding, which utilizes machine learning algorithms to identify potentially relevant documents using keywords, phrases, and metadata, is one of the eDiscovery trends expected to see greater adoption in 2024, helping alleviate the workload associated with document review.

GenAI can predict and categorize documents for legal teams, allowing them to prioritize and review more documents more effectively. This expedites the entire eDiscovery process, substantially reducing the costs associated with manual document review.

AI Algorithms
2024 will see a shift towards the utilization of AI algorithms. These algorithms are revolutionizing how legal practitioners handle large volumes of data.

With smart processing and analysis tools at their disposal, legal professionals can move beyond simply identifying relevant documents. They can now delve into the nuances of context, sentiment, and relationships within the data. This heightened understanding enables them to make decisions during the eDiscovery process with greater efficiency and accuracy.

Blockchain Integration
The increased focus on enhanced data integrity and security has led to greater momentum in the next in our 2024 list of eDiscovery trends, the integration of blockchain technology into AI-powered eDiscovery solutions. The blockchain ensures the authenticity and immutability of electronic evidence, establishing a secure and tamper-proof chain of custody. By bolstering trust in the eDiscovery process, blockchain integration addresses a crucial aspect of legal proceedings.

SaaS and Cloud-Based eDiscovery Platforms
The shift towards remote work practices in recent years has prompted the increasing migration of AI-powered platforms for eDiscovery to the cloud. This transition enables seamless collaboration among geographically dispersed legal teams. Software as a service and cloud-based solutions offer scalability, flexibility, and real-time access to case data, empowering legal professionals to collaborate efficiently and respond promptly to evolving litigation demands.

Short Message Handling
In the legal context, a growing consensus is emerging on the handling of short messages, such as Slack or Teams chats, text messages, and other mobile data. These modern forms of communication are increasingly pertinent in legal disputes, and thus one of 2024’s eDiscovery trends. Communication is moving beyond single platforms, weaving seamlessly from email to text messages to Teams, among others. The ability to follow the thread of messages across platforms offers a distinct advantage to those trying to construct an accurate and comprehensive narrative from the data.

A Surge in ECA
Early case assessment, while not a new concept, is poised for a surge in use in the coming year. Efficiency and cost management are the primary advantages of ECA, offering improved data volume management and reducing the number of documents requiring manual review.

Notable advancements in automation and advanced analytics include machine learning, smart filtering, and integration with predictive coding technology. This integration will facilitate more precise identification of key documents and information, equipping legal professionals with a clearer understanding of a case at its outset and influencing the pace of litigation, settlement negotiations, and other strategic decisions.

Caveats or Potential Risks from Emerging eDiscovery Trends
With transformation comes some level of risk, particularly in the realm of AI. Such technology is, without a doubt, a valuable pillar of modern eDiscovery methods. AI-based tools such as predictive coding, privilege reviews, early case analysis, and incoming production analysis play a crucial role in managing resources, time, and cost requirements.

However, there is some concern that AI could inadvertently generate more documents for review, especially if the original document owner also used artificial intelligence tools that created additional documents. In a scenario where charges are based on data size, the use of AI could be a double-edged sword.

Data Validation and ESI Issues
The widespread use of collaborative tools and platforms introduces preservation issues. Even with improvements in managing the volume of collected documents, the dynamic nature of documents within collaborative platforms presents challenges. Documents may be edited after the transmission of an email, leading to loss or destruction concerns, particularly if the content of a document as it existed when its corresponding email was sent is crucial to the underlying case.

With the rapid proliferation of AI, errors, biases, glitches, and misinformation become inevitable. While AI in eDiscovery can help identify relevant evidence more efficiently, its use in generating content that may serve as evidence in a case outside the eDiscovery space may lead to unreliable or even false evidence. Practitioners must validate and understand the AI used, ensuring they do not inadvertently present misleading or false evidence.

The growing recognition of AI’s role in eDiscovery trends is prompting legal professionals to reconsider their agreements with electronically stored information protocols. Parties are increasingly revising their ESI handling to anticipate new challenges in the eDiscovery landscape, including the use of AI and the treatment of links to collaborative workspaces.

A robust ESI protocol can minimize or mitigate eDiscovery disputes and facilitate early resolution when disputes arise, offering both predictability and flexibility to adapt to evolving circumstances during the discovery process. However, different judges may enforce these protocols with varying degrees of rigidity.

Data Privacy Concerns
As data privacy concerns continue to increase, both governments and corporations are confronted with increasingly stringent global regulations. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation is an early example of this trend. Projects in eDiscovery will need to approach the collection and handling of personal data with caution, particularly data crossing international borders.

Furthermore, laws across the United States are evolving, exemplified by regulations like the California Consumer Privacy Act and other emerging legislation. These developments mean the eDiscovery industry must remain adaptable and agile as the laws change. Legal teams and eDiscovery professionals must remain aware of data collection regions and stay vigilant their handling of data amid ongoing shifts in the legal landscape to ensure compliance.

In the same vein, privacy apprehensions and the escalating volumes of data over time are prompting organizations to prioritize data minimization. Firms are implementing stringent data retention policies to mitigate the risk of data breaches and uphold compliance with regulations and consumer expectations.

Preparing for eDiscovery Trends
A tremendous amount of data powers eDiscovery. In the modern communication-heavy world, more data is added at virtually the speed of light, adding to the already monumental task of disseminating critical information. Each eDiscovery pillar is a step every legal team should follow to prepare for the influx of data in 2024. Before an organization implements the trending technology, review the vital points to prepare for success:

Build a strong team: Identifying and forming a robust professional team with the right balance of skills is the first step to taking advantage of new eDiscovery technology.

Locate data sources: Teams must look for evidentiary breadcrumbs in every potential path, from data stores including dedicated servers to cloud storage to mobile and desktop devices.

Rank and classify data: Working with myriad data sources requires mapping and classifying each according to the sensitivity of the information it contains, including restricted or proprietary data, confidential internal data, openly accessible public data, and confidential information such as HIPAA.

Implement data governance procedures: Carefully consider roles and responsibilities when designing processes, ensuring you cover quality, accuracy, consistency, and accessibility standards to safeguard your data.

Leverage automation: It is no longer feasible for teams to manually sort through the deluge of data available, so implementing the right technology and leveraging automation is crucial for accurate and timely discovery.

Adhere to change management procedures: It is critical not only to monitor and review your eDiscovery data but to do it through a structured change management process that tracks the changes and reasons for them.

Shelley Bougnague