The importance of Sedona Conference® and EDRM and why we should all be actively involved with these organizations

Posted on March 9, 2010

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A major challenge in the field of e-Discovery is to ensure that all parties understand the inherent problems within this industry and the technologies available to solve these problems. But as in many cases, most legal professionals are not very technical and therefore, changes and the adoption of new technologies in the legal field are often slow and have the characteristic of evolutions instead of revolutions.

At the most recent LegalTech event in New York, I noticed an example of the very long tail of legal technology. There was a booth where a company was promoting WordPerfect. According to Wikipedia, WordPerfect lost its market leadership to MS-Word back in 1995! We often see the same with many old legal review platforms, often still Windows-based and only capable of reviewing documents in TIFF format, which causes all kinds of problems with the review of XLS and other hard-to-print file formats.

One of the most notorious however, are old ZyLAB customers calling our sales department to upgrade their version of ZyINDEX 5.4 for DOS! We quit shipping and supporting this software back in 1995, so these are customers that have been running our software for more than 15 years without any support or need for new functionality! The cover of one of the magazines that reported on these hard-disk search tools is shown in this blog, just to bring us back a bit in what computers and our business was about 20 years ago. Now, can you imagine your law firms still relying on technology from those days? Well, it still works fine for me, is what they will tell you. 

These examples show that technology adaptation and technology understanding are an issue in the legal space. This is why organizations such as the Sedona Conference and EDRM are so incredibly important, because new technologies not only bring new legal and technical challenges and complexity, but also increased productivity. The largest problem is always to get new technology and new principles accepted in court, and that typically takes a few years so that the proper case law can develop. Because: we need to explain new technologies in court with expert witnesses and defend our new (often more efficient) methodologies against opposing counsel.

Should our world not change, then one could make an argument that the old technologies are fine and we can save ourselves the trouble of having to wait for new case law. However, since 1995, the amount of information an average computer holds has increased from 10 Mb to more than 100 Gb, which is 10,000 times more! We can no longer rely on old 16 bit technology to process such data collections. It is simply to inefficient. Moreover, we also need new principles from computer science to help us to pre-organize all this data and help us to organize identification, data retention, collection, processing and foremost, the legal review and production. 

This is where the Sedona Conference and EDRM help legal professionals to understand technology better, to derive best practices, set data format standards, compose standard operating procedures and also promote acceptance and education of this technology in court and within the law firms and prosecutors.

At the end of the day, we are fighting a similar battle like getting DNA evidence accepted in court. ZyLAB is very proud to be part of this process and to help to make a difference and support these initiatives.

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