Two things struck me as more connected than it might first appear today as I was reading through my RSS feeds. First, the announcement that Merrill Corp. is going to to partnering with the University of Alabama on an ESI course, and the second that the latest Kroll OnTrack survey shows a steady increase in the number of people who believe eDiscovery strategy is not just a legal department responsibility, but that it is shared with IT, if not the CIO’s area outright.
Given the fact that “The findings are in contrast to those of three years ago, when most respondents believed e-discovery belonged entirely to the law department.” I think what we see here is a case where legal professionals approached ESI as they have every other legal problem that they come across, mainly as one they can handle without outside assistance, and over the course of the last couple of years, have begun to realize that they might be wrong.
Certainly, electronic discovery as a legal issue is discovery just as it’s always been, but in our interconnected, technological world, locating and producing data requires a bit more than a law degree. Law school doesn’t teach you how networks work, how mobile devices work, how Web 2.0 technologies work, or how to access data that might be stored in SQL backends. So, in order to develop a full strategy for ediscovery, you need IT’s expertise, and oh by the way, it wouldn’t hurt if more lawyers had some basic technical skills in this area, hence the push for some new law school classes covering it.
Oh, and yes, I see both trends as a positive. Lawyers, in general, need much more education about technology and ESI. Maybe, armed with that knowledge, they’ll also know when they need to ask for help, and where to get it, too!