E-discovery law a boon for lawyers

By Ellen Messmer, Network World, 10/19/07  

New regulations governing the storage and management of electronic data that might be needed in federal court actions has an increasing number of organization turning to outside counsel for help, according to a new study.  An annual survey about litigation matters asked 303 corporate lawyers about the impact of the e-discovery law that went into effect last year. 

The e-discovery law is an amendment to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure related to finding and managing electronically stored information that might be relevant in a legal dispute in federal court. The new law requires processes and technologies to be in place to do e-discovery and to stop any automated or regular purging of relevant electronically stored information at the first sign that a company might be a party to a lawsuit, even before the suit is filed. The law also requires opposing parties to discuss e-discovery issues within 120 days of a lawsuit’s filing.

The fourth annual “Litigation Trends Survey Findings” conducted by Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P, a global law firm based in Austin, Texas, found that corporate lawyers — over two-thirds based in the United States and the rest mainly in Britain — cited a big jump in use of outside vendors and outside law firms specializing in the e-discovery field. The industry sectors primarily represented are financial services, technology/ communications, manufacturing, healthcare, energy and retail. 

Whereas 37% of the in-house corporate lawyers in the United States had used outside e-discovery vendors last year to help with e-discovery, that number jumped to 51% this year. With U.K.-based lawyers, that number jumped from 8% in 2006 to 71% this year. The need to call on an outside law firm with “special technical expertise in e-discovery issues” rose from 26% last year to 30% for the U.S. corporations represented, and 17% to 32% for the U.K. companies. As a whole, 17% of those answering the survey said they have retained or are considering retaining national or regional counsel specifically for e-discovery issues that arise.

For more see Network World.com.

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