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e-Discovery Process Impacted by Covid-19 Crisis?

— June 15, 2020

With new sources of case-relevant information, now lawyers and paralegals need to capture more data, with added responsibilities to refine it.

Other than affecting human lives, the COVID-19 pandemic is resulting in work-life disruptions on a wide scale. Lawyers are carrying a big stone dealing with increasing demand amid these crises, and the e-discovery process. With new sources of case-relevant information, now lawyers and paralegals need to capture more data, with added responsibilities to refine it.

To get an idea of the actual situation, we collected a few responses to the titled question from legal experts; let’s read what they said.

Reply 1: Amy Abdo, Director at Fennemore Craig

Among other difficulties, data security risks are on top.

“As with all aspects of our working lives, the pandemic has impacted most of the processes in the legal industry, including e-Discovery. As most are working remotely, new sources must be considered for data preservation and collection. Workplaces and businesses have now entered homes and home computers. Traditionally, we sought to collect business data from business computers and networks. Now, we are considering home devices and computers that are not backed up at all, let alone by sophisticated networks and archiving software. In many instances, security controls are lacking and placing important data at risk of destruction, copying, or acquisition.

And, although law firms are deemed “essential services” in most states, most courts are delaying non-essential proceedings, and it’s anything but business as usual. As with all other systems, we are experiencing delays. Not all collections can be accomplished remotely, which is in turn, delaying access and collection. Even for collections, which may be accomplished remotely, we are experiencing delays due to skeleton or incomplete teams available. Encrypted data has become more problematic to the e-Discovery process. Delay in preservation, collection, and processing will delay discovery in litigation, contributing to overall litigation process delays, even when courts return to the level of operation in place pre-coronavirus.

While security has always been an issue, COVID-19 greatly increased the awareness of potential vulnerabilities, especially in the legal world. Data has become even more vulnerable as secured processes often need additional steps that have not been worked into the work from home (WFH) process. We now need to spend time creating effective security protocols to ensure data is not subject to compromise from a home location. These unprecedented times mean that in order to maintain their competitive position in the market, vendors need to work quickly to develop processes and protocols accounting for the WFH data collections, and WFH access to review platforms, to ensure security and data environments that cannot be compromised.”

Reply 2: Andrew Tylor

Data validation and privacy concerns.

“With many people working from home now, the way in which we can source and collect data will be vastly changed. Data sources will be forever changed and even as we return to normality (if we do at all), these few months will have an impact on how one can obtain the correct information and validate it – for this year at least.

Laptop displaying data stream in darkened room; image by Markus Spiske, via
Laptop displaying data stream in darkened room; image by Markus Spiske, via

Currently as well, due to social distancing, should there be any need for interrogation or forensic evidence to be sourced, this is currently impossible.

And, don’t get me started on security. I am extremely concerned with the high use of such programs as Zoom and such, with proven issues coming out where hackers are able to enter into rooms. What will we be dealing with in the near future as a result of this – for one?”

Reply 3: Jordan W Peagler, Esq. Partner, MKP Law Group

Growing requirement of technology.

“With the rise of COVID-19, the need for effective e-discovery has become paramount. While traditional written discovery, such as requests for production of documents and special interrogatories, can be easily transmitted electronically via email, it’s the other forms of discovery that are a bit more complicated to do electronically.

Virtual depositions are on the rise during these unprecedented times, which leads to a host of issues. Oftentimes deponents may have poor Internet service, lack a computer with a camera, or are not technically savvy and cannot log in to the virtual depositions. For the attorneys, procedural issues like marking and using exhibits can be complicated. If you are allowing your client’s deposition to be taken electronically, I highly recommend going over the technical and login issues prior to the deposition. If you are the attorney taking a deposition, it would be wise to send the exhibits you intend to use to the court reporter in advance of the deposition.”

Reply 4: Terena Bell, Head of Global Public Relations at Lionbridge

The biggest turning points.

“COVID-19 has certainly placed substantial short-term constraints and challenges on the e-Discovery process and, more broadly, on the entire legal community. With many courts closed, slowed, or working remotely, the entire litigation and investigation process has been commensurately impacted. In-flight matters are proceeding more deliberately and with reductions in new case filings in some practice areas. For example, we’ve seen one large FCPA investigation largely paused due to the current environment.

With that said, resiliency – along with tenacity – are cornerstones of the legal community. We are seeing courts and law firms adapt effectively to the current virtual environment, and cities across the globe are taking initial steps to kick-start their economies. The world has become – and will remain – one global world, particularly so as many leaders work together to address international COVID challenges. And, as the world emerges from COVID challenges, the global legal community will play a leading role in ensuring fairness and equity across economies, businesses, and individuals.”

Reply 5: Ted Kaplun, Personal Injury Lawyer at

It made us embrace change.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant effect on the legal field, forcing the profession to be thrust into the 21st century. As a personal injury trial attorney, we have had to be fluid, given the circumstances in an effort to move cases along. One major component in the litigation process is depositions that need to be taken. Pre Covid-19, these were almost always done live in a conference room setting with multiple parties, including lawyers, court reporters, videographers, parties, and deponents in the room. Due to the shelter in place order, social distancing measures, we have had to adapt. Our law firm has been able to do depositions virtually through Zoom – and believe it or not, it has been great. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention; luckily for us, the tools to adapt are available. Many things will change once this pandemic is resolved, but this situation has forced us to embrace change and adapt. Lawyers are creatures of often antiquated habit, but this has given us a new perspective of what can be done more efficiently – which will in turn, allow for a better work/life balance in the future.”

Conclusion & CTA

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