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E-Discovery Training Lagging in Most Legal Departments



Unsurprisingly, large enterprises in highly-regulated and litigation-heavy industries reported the highest e-discovery operations maturity, according to a newly released survey. However, many of these companies have also reported low instances of e-discovery training.

The survey of 218 organizations of various sizes and industries was conducted by e-discovery and information governance company Exterro Inc. and Duke Law's EDRM, and based on a quiz tied to EDRM’s E-Discovery Maturity Self-Assessment Test.

While organizations in the pharmaceutical and finance industry reported the greatest e-discovery process maturity, they failed like their fellow respondents to report significant e-discovery training. According to the survey, those in the pharmaceutical industry rated their training 1.5 out of 5 and those in finance 2.6 out of 5. By contrast, organizations in the chemical and transportation industry gave the highest e-discovery training, 3.22 and 3.38 out of five, respectively.

Exterro chief marketing officer Bill Piwonka said the lack of e-discovery training in even highly regulated legal departments could stem from in-house departments not focusing on granular processes.

“The people who have been doing e-discovery have just done their own self-training,” Piwonka suggested. He added, “Because legal hasn’t really run itself like other departments, with this process focus, they probably don’t have all the pieces in place like a formal training.”

Surveyed companies also didn’t rate their organization’s security maintenance and data integrity highly, with an overall rating of 2.94 out of 5.

Of data security and integrity controls, slightly over half of all organizations had an auditing process in place (53 percent), as well as dedicated personnel to manage data security and integrity (58 percent). Most respondents said they had strong technology/automation controls ready (63 percent), followed by 61 percent that had defined processes set for data security and integrity.

The survey also asked respondents if they have a procedure to collect employees’ social media data and notably, midsize companies lagged behind smaller enterprises. Only 39 percent of businesses with 1,001 to 10,000 employees had a procedure in place to collect employees’ social media data, compared to 44 percent of smaller companies. Meanwhile, 51 percent of companies with 10,000-plus employees had a data collection process for workers’ social media.

Procedures for collecting employees’ data from their personal devices were more prevalent. Nearly half of small enterprises, 53 percent of midsize companies and almost 70 percent of large enterprises reported they had a data collection plan for employee devices.

Overall, 91 percent of those surveyed said they had the ability to identify, preserve and collect data from employees. Indeed, all large companies said they could preserve and collect employee data, but that number noticeably slipped when asked about preserving third-party data. Only 68 percent of large companies said they could identify, preserve and collect data from vendors while 78 percent of large companies said they could do the same with contractors.

Piwonka said that overall, the survey underscored how legal departments were continuing to change their approach to e-discovery process.

“Every department in an enterprise has had the notion of cost optimization,” Piwonka said. “I think largely for a long time legal departments were kept out of it."

Those days, he said, are over. “I absolutely believe this trend of having a more processed approach to legal will continue. The trend of having formal legal operations and the scrutiny from the C-suite over expenses won’t lessen.”