A new decade of eDiscovery: Takeaways from Onna’s LWNY session

Legalweek 2020 has come to a close, and what an amazing couple of days it was. Based at the Hilton Midtown in NYC, Legalweek was four days filled with fresh insights, industry experts, and invaluable discussions about the intersection of legal and tech. As we recap all we’ve learned, we can’t help but get excited about where the industry is headed. From cloud migration to re-thinking the EDRM process, 2020 marks a year of true maturity and change in the industry — and everyone is embracing it.

As an exhibitor and sponsor of Legalweek, Onna had the privilege of getting to know attendees from all corners of the legal tech space. When our team wasn’t chatting with people at our exhibition booth, we were attending sessions put on by over 400 highly-anticipated speakers.

Our team had the pleasure of hosting a session, “A New Decade of Ediscovery” in which we discussed fundamental shifts in case law, big data, and in-house counsel. We were lucky to be joined by four incredible panelists — Wendy Weber, Senior Paralegal at Dropbox, Robert Brownstone, Lawyer and Technologist at Fenwick and West, Tim Anderson, Data Management and Information Systems Consultant at FTI, and our very own VP of Revenue, Russ Grant.


Throughout our session, we reflected on both the past and future decade of eDiscovery. More specifically, what we want to leave behind, what we want to hold on to, and how to build the legal teams of the future. If you’re curious, we’ve gathered our top takeaways below:

What works in eDiscovery right now? What do we want to bring with us into the new decade?

  • Positive enhancements in tech — the ability to communicate and collaborate is better than ever before. We should continue to rethink our eDiscovery process, Saas solutions, and how we work in the cloud. 
  • We should embrace the velocity of change in these platforms. Not being able to keep up is actually a good problem to have — we should view the rapid change in tech as an opportunity to innovate.
  • Attorneys aren’t always on top of eDiscovery or have a fascination with it, but going forward they should start to.
  • Companies that adapt quickly to tech, are the ones who win.
  • API connections in eDiscovery are the key to data defensibility.

Looking back on the past ten years, what no longer works in eDiscovery? What do we want to leave behind?

  • Lawyers as project managers. Teams should begin to trust paralegals to help prioritize and keep track of where everything is.
  • The “ignorance is bliss” tactic when it comes to eDiscovery — t’s not going to work forever. We can’t knock on wood and pray that litigation won’t happen, it’s wildly irresponsible.
  • Calling today’s applications “weird, new, or unique” data sources. They’re not weird for the people that are actually using them. Get more connected, be more hands-on in the process, don’t be the one that lives under a rock.
  • Begging the question of EDRM still being relevant. Yes, it is, but we need to streamline it more. EDRM is still too compartmentalized and slow, it’s also not a linear process. In fact, we have to backtrack more often than not, so how can we start improving its speed and efficiency? 

What are some of the biggest opportunities for eDiscovery in the new decade?

  • Tech companies have an opportunity to create eDiscovery solutions and privacy regulations that are built correctly from the get-go. Too many companies only build these solutions as problems arise, not before they arise. In other words, creators of enterprise applications need to view an eDiscovery solution as a necessary part of their product. The companies that do, are the ones who win.
  • Businesses have a huge opportunity to double down on information governance to make finding the right information easier. They should be asking themselves, “what do we want to keep and how will we manage it?” Good information governance means better data hygiene – and better data hygiene means faster access to insights and intelligence. 
  • Hammering down data retention is a must. Unfortunately, most people have to learn the hard way and wait for bad things to happen to learn this. Of course, no one wants to hear, “Well what if you get sued?” but it’s a valid question. Litigation can happen at any time, so understanding the nature of your data and where it lives will ensure you’re prepared for anything. Laws like GDPR and CCPA are thankfully sparking these proactive best practices when it comes to data.
  • Data retention is important for compliance and organization, but it also puts you at a proactive advantage in litigation. Your legal team should know the details of your data so well, (i.e. how it was used, edited, manipulated) to the point that you can really speak to the merit of the case. Why is this important? From a legal standpoint, when the opposing side knows they don’t have a good case, they try to pin you buy inflating technical BS. If you truly know your data, you know whether or not they’re posing a legitimate argument against you. That’s a huge advantage.

Advice for building teams of the future

  • Law firms and vendors should begin operating as a single unit. It’s simple in concept but each person you need for the entire EDRM process should be part of the in-house team. Integrate your doc reviewers, with your lawyers, with your security experts…etc. This ensures that key players aren’t left in the dark, and everyone’s on the same page. The challenge for law firms will be creating quicker, more agile processes, and more external and internal collaboration will do that.
  • Another simple but valuable action is to clearly articulate the role of the machine, or tool you’re leveraging. Define the power of that piece of technology before you use it so that your team understands its value. 

And that’s it for our Legalweek 2020 Session takeaways —  we hope you took some valuable insights from our discussion. The conference was a true testament to all the organizations that are shifting their mindset and “driving legal forward”, and we’re thrilled to be one of them. To find out where you can find Onna next, keep up with our upcoming events on LinkedIn and Twitter.