The COVID-19 Effect: Trends and Observations in eDiscovery

By: Kim Taylor, CEO

eDiscovery trends typically develop gradually, following the pace of technological advancement, but the coronavirus pandemic has prompted a tidal wave of changes in a very short time period, accelerating nascent trends and causing shifts no one expected.

Here are some trends that have reshaped the eDiscovery landscape:

Remote work

For the health and safety of employees, eDiscovery organizations have minimized or eliminated the number of staff members working in the office and set up new, or enhanced existing, remote work environments where employees can complete their duties from home.

Remote work, however, presents a host of challenges related to security and data collection.

You can learn more about these by reading our blog posts on successfully managing remote employees and maintaining security in a remote environment.

Cybersecurity risks

While cybersecurity risks exist naturally as part of doing business, they were rightfully heightened with the rapid move toward working from home. Hackers have taken advantage of vulnerabilities in hastily implemented remote systems as well as employees’ tendency to use personal devices.

Remote workers have seen an influx of coronavirus-related phishing emails and websites designed to inject malware on computers, according to an analysis by Google of content sent to Gmail users.

Information governance dilemmas

Remote workers are more prone to store documents on personal devices to make it easier to work, and the broad distribution of information can not only make it more vulnerable to fraud, it can create dilemmas for the company to collect. Companies have had to navigate how to handle data stored or created on employees’ personal devices or develop policies to limit or prevent the use of personal devices.

Off-site document review

Travel bans and social-distancing measures have spurred a rapid shift toward remote, off-site document reviews almost overnight.

During a recent ACEDS webinar, Juan Di Luca, co-founder and managing director of Data Analysis Services Ltd., noted that just 10% of document reviews at his company were performed off-site before the pandemic. Now, 90% are remote.

The security risks of off-site review mean that companies have had to update their contingency protocols on how information security, training and oversight and workflows for processing confidential information.

Innovative Discovery has launched DistributID Review to offer a secure, economical remote review solution utilizing a talent pool of experienced reviews from across the U.S.

Changes in Relationship Building

Remote work was already beginning to gain popularity before COVID-19. After all, the benefits include a broadened talent pool not hindered by geography and researched-backed heightened productivity. Regardless of why you are working from home, remoteness does affect the way we build and maintain relationships – both internally and externally. Phone calls have become almost antiquated, replaced by video conference and virtual gatherings as we strive to preserve a closeness once reserved for face-to-face encounters. Here at ID, we use Microsoft Teams to conduct all our calls with video, we’ve implemented bi-weekly virtual happy hours for our internal teams, and launched virtual games nights for our clients. In a remote world, it’s all about finding new ways to stay connected and in-touch.

Delays in workflow

Even with the shift to remote work, some collections and reviews cannot be conducted off-site, causing delays in completing those services.

Mass lockdowns, stay-at-home advisories and the closure of country borders also have slowed down the pace of legal matters that can be processed by courts, taking a toll on eDiscovery’s bottom line.

Preparation

Despite economic impacts and anxiety about the pandemic, the eDiscovery industry was well-positioned to adapt to changes spurred by the pandemic. Innovative Discovery was already set up to perform remote work and leveraged existing technology to transition operations to a remote environment, including cloud-based email programs and third-party communication platforms like Microsoft Teams, and had a long-standing remote workforce already in place. Please contact us for advice on working remotely or to learn more about our remote capabilities

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