Wary lawyers holding back development of e-disclosure market, says report

Coding: lawyers unsure about innovative technology

A lack of understanding among lawyers about what e-disclosure technology can do, along with nervousness about using the more innovative tools – such as predictive coding – mean that the market has only been on a shallow growth curve, a new report has found.

The white paper by APT Search, which says it is the UK’s first recruitment company dedicated to e-disclosure and litigation support, described the UK’s e-disclosure market as “a bit of an enigma”.

It said market conditions look “almost perfect for explosive growth” as the economic downturn gives rise to more litigation and regulators become more aggressive in the wake of various banking scandals. “Meanwhile, the volume and diversity of the search exercises required in litigation or by regulators continue to grow exponentially, while the tools provided by search technology to cope have improved enormously.”

Yet while the courts and regulators are beginning to accommodate the use of cutting-edge search technologies, firm precedents remain thin on the ground, APT said.

This tentativeness also translates into business relationships. “There is relatively little appetite amongst clients to chop and change e-disclosure providers when the technology is not fully understood. Trust and personal relationships are the key drivers of purchasing decisions rather than a desire for bleeding-edge technological solutions.”

However, many e-disclosure providers still believe that conditions are ripe for growth to accelerate and are trying to position themselves to take full advantage when it does, the white paper said, with new entrants to the market, mainly from the US, and smaller players are being absorbed into the larger providers.

“At the same time, some law firms and companies – especially banks – are waking up to the growing importance of e-disclosure (and information governance generally). Many are responding by developing their own in-house capability to complement the services available from vendors. The effect of this is that the market for e-disclosure is both consolidating and becoming more diverse at the same time. It promises to be an interesting few years ahead.”

Amit Pandit, managing director at APT Search, said: “Organisations are looking to prepare themselves for better times ahead, whilst defending existing market share and managing potential risks.

“Consequently, the demand for e-disclosure professionals is strong in the UK, with salary levels continuing to rise. Furthermore, these changes in the market are creating new opportunities for people not only in traditional positions, but also creating roles that did not exist before.”