Last week, we hosted over 20 ediscovery and legal experts during the Everlaw Summit: Illuminate 2021. The two-day virtual event was a fantastic opportunity to take a pulse of the legal industry and see what’s in store for the future of ediscovery and legal technology as a whole.
These virtual sessions shed light on some of the obstacles legal professionals have encountered over the past year and how some have overcome the unforeseen challenges by leveraging ediscovery. In particular, there were some consistent yet resonating themes that colored these virtual roundtable discussions, including:
- Cloud-based technology will be vital in enabling productivity and becoming disruption-proof
- There’s more data, but less paper
- The way we collaborate has changed
- With the move to the cloud, security will be key
After two days of wide-ranging conversations, attendees walked away with new learnings and actionable insights. Let’s dive into a couple of the bigger takeaways from our sessions.
COVID-19 Has Impacted the Court System
The global pandemic has had a massive impact on the legal community and ushered new realities for the court system. For example, many cases are being tried via video-conference tools, such as Zoom, and a number of legal professionals are questioning whether this new normal should be here to stay. This inevitably has led to several legal workflows being done online — many are conducting depositions, court hearings, and trials remotely.
During our keynote session with Minnesota State Attorney General Keith Ellison, we learned that prosecutors have not been trying as many cases, especially jury trials, due to the complications brought on by COVID-19. Many of these cases have been put on hold; however, many are starting up again due to the easing of restrictions brought on by the availability of vaccinations. Some courts have already begun trying these cases in person, while others are still utilizing video-conference tools.
The real question now is: will courts go back to operating the way they did before the pandemic, or will they incorporate elements from this new reality? As noted by Keith, it’s difficult to identify and spot the nuances in human behavior and tone when cross-examining a defendant via Zoom, but virtually conducting a court of appeals argument is a viable option. The truth of the matter is no one really knows what’s in store, so it’s something everyone in the legal industry will have to monitor closely.
Illuminate 2021 Session: Welcoming Remarks & Keynote Address: Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison
The Past Year Has Brought Lasting Change
As with many industries that have adopted remote-based work, many legal professionals have found that they have been just as, if not more, efficient by working from home. Ediscovery expert and EDRM chief strategy officer Kaylee Walstad noted that she doesn’t believe that the workforce will return to a 5-day workweek based on what she has heard from law firms and legal teams. Something like a hybrid system, where legal professionals can work a few days at the office and the others at home, seems like the direction where the industry is headed.
Ediscovery expert Craig Ball sees the legal industry committing to more virtual collaboration. With the advent of cloud-based solutions, many legal professionals have already been working with remote-based collaborators for some time now, and the pandemic increased the viability of this practice even further. Craig believes being able to do legal work — such as conducting deskside interviews and remote collections — will make the legal industry more likely to adopt legal technology.
The Honorable Andrew J. Peck is a bit more conservative in his outlook. He believes that many of the changes, such as the use of video-conference tools, will remain, but widespread adoption will likely begin to taper off as people return to an in-person type of work.
Illuminate 2021 Session: Ediscovery Influencers: Disruption as an Enabler for Change in 2021
Are you interested in learning more about the current state and future of the legal industry? Check out our full agenda at Everlaw.com/Illuminate to watch any or all of our virtual sessions.