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Electronic discovery (e-discovery) is on course to explode at a compound annual growth rate of 23.4%, according to a report entitled 'E-Discovery Market by Solution, Service, and Vertical – Global Forecast to 2021', recently published by MarketsandMarkets.

In monetary value, the e-discovery market is expected to grow from its current $7.89 billion to $22.62 billion by 2021. According to the report, technology-assisted review and data production are gaining traction in the e-discovery world because they empower organizations to reduce risk while saving time and money spent on managing and reviewing large amounts of documents efficiently and effectively.

The North American region is expected to comprise the maximum market share of the overall e-discovery market, according to the report. That’s because in both the United States and Canada, the use of cloud technology has exploded, paving the way for the increased use of electronic discovery.

David J. Myers, a Cincinnati attorney and owner of SpliceNet, Inc., agreed that the increasing attractiveness of cloud technology is responsible for the impending explosion of e-discovery. “As more information and processes are housed in digital form, it means that more of the “stuff” to be discovered will be electronic,” he said.

At least one expert, whose work every day revolves around e-discovery, thinks the explosion in e-discovery is already evident.

“I contend it is already exploding, but yes, certainly in the next five years there should be a significant amount of growth in the industry. As for why, look no farther than how everyone communicates on a daily basis. It is virtually all done electronically, e.g., email, text, social media, word documents, spreadsheets and pdfs,” said Keith Whitaker, Chief Business Development Officer for Percipient, an e-discovery and legal technology company based in Chicago. “Given that at both the personal and business level all forms of electronic communication are relied upon all day, every day, it is only natural to expect that when litigation exists, that the data that needs to be analyzed would be in electronic format.”

Impact on Costs

If the use of e-discovery explodes as predicted, it’s also likely the costs of those services will be impacted, too. In Myers’ opinion, an increase in e-discovery will translate into a decrease in prices as processes become more streamlined and predictable.

Whitaker agreed that not only would an increased use of e-discovery lead to a drop in costs, a related service would also play a role in making discovery more affordable. According to Whitaker, one aspect of e-discovery is managed review service. In that scenario, actual document reviews are outsourced to a team of attorneys to handle. That is primarily driven due to the legal spend cost savings, which could be as much as 75%, Whitaker contended.

“Corporations are increasingly expecting this service of law firms when e-discovery is needed, especially if the matter has a significant amount of data,” he said. Moreover, he argued the billable hour will diminish, with some of those associated costs shifting to the services and solutions required for e-discovery. “The overall net financial impact should mean a decrease in litigation costs,” Whitaker said.

The MarketsandMarkets report points that way, too. As technology-assisted review and data production gain traction as e-discovery solutions, two services that reduce risk and save time and money when managing and reviewing large caches of documents, costs associated with e-discovery should decrease, according to the report.

Who Benefits?

Certainly when something new hits the market, there are winners and losers. If electronic discovery explodes, as predicted, the big players in the already crowded e-discovery arena look to gain, big time. According to the MarketsandMarkets report, those major vendors include Xerox Corporation, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM and kCura, to name a few.

While it’s probable those big vendors will benefit from an increasing reliance on e-discovery, they won’t be the only benefactors. “Larger firms with more resources (and their clients),” will gain from an explosion in e-discovery, Myers said. For one, they will be able to utilize advanced technologies first, giving them an edge over competitors whose pockets aren’t as deep.

Meanwhile, while smaller firms won’t likely be able to afford those cutting-edge technologies initially, Myers predicted the fast pace of technology will lead to a “levelling” of the playing field. Small firms will also benefit from the dearth of e-discovery options so once costs associated with it become more reasonable, small firms will be able to afford and more fully utilize those services for their clients.

Tami Kamin Meyer is an Ohio attorney and writer

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