By the time of our mid-year trends post last summer, the year’s key eDiscovery-related themes had already taken significant shape. What trends stuck and what waned before the end of December? Here’s a recap of what 2018 held for our industry.
- Privacy is king, or at least consumers want it to be.
Privacy, or the lack thereof, was the buzzword for 2018.
We couldn’t break away from news of data breaches. The largest targets included T-Mobile, Quora, Google, Orbitz, and Marriott—not to mention the multiple incidents that affected more than 100 million Facebook users.
With so much at stake, privacy legislation took center stage in the legal arena, sending millions of American businesses into a compliance-driven frenzy.
In May, the General Data Protection Regulation became effective, radically changing the way that U.S. businesses think about their data. That little box you have to click on most websites notifying you that the website is collecting your personal data through cookies? You can thank the GDPR for that. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the revolutionary precautions that organizations doing business in the EU must take when it comes to their data. The risk is high, and we believe it will continue to get higher, as EU organizations begin to ramp up their enforcement.
The GDPR’s implementation has sparked an interest in privacy domestically as well. Here in the U.S., California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, and Chicago and San Francisco have suggested measures as well; the latter proposal was voted into law in November. Meanwhile, Washington passed a law regulating biometric identifiers, including fingerprints, retinal scans, and other physical information that can be used to identify someone.
- More states are adopting technological competence requirements for lawyers.
As of today, 35 states have adopted Comment 8 to the ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1, which requires lawyers to “keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.” (For the complete list, visit Bob Ambrogi’s website, LawSites.) Comment 8 has been on a slow burn toward complete adoption since it was enacted in 2012. Indeed, two states now require lawyers to complete at least one hour of continuing legal education in technology: Florida and North Carolina (as of 2019). Lawyers in these and other states who are facing complex eDiscovery issues should either gain the requisite knowledge or reduce their risk of compliance violations—and sanctions—by partnering with an eDiscovery specialist.
- There was continued private equity investment—and consolidation—in the eDiscovery industry.
Private equity investment and company consolidation continued apace in the legal service provider market. In addition to the flurry of activity in the first half of the year, we’ve seen numerous transactions in the second half, including these: Consilio bought DiscoverReady (October), Epiq bought Controle LLC (July), CVC Capital Partners invested $500 million in UnitedLex (September), and Nuix bought Ringtail from FTI Consulting (September).
As we march boldly into 2019, we expect the year to be one of reckoning, as the legal and eDiscovery industries continue to adapt to the changing privacy and technology landscape. We’ll be here, ready to suggest ways that your organization can keep pace with these developments.
Stay tuned for our 2019 predictions in next week’s post.