19 December 2013 by Danielle Rowe

As we approach the end of 2013 it is only natural to look to the future and wonder what 2014 will bring.  Kroll Ontrack gathered together a panel of industry experts, supplied copious bubbly drinks (to help with the creative juices) and cajoled them into giving up their predictions for next year.  My personal favourite:

Kroll Ontrack will achieve ediscovery world domination!

On a less aggressive note, the predictions identify a number of themes that were also hot topics in 2013.  “Data Protection will be top of the agenda” from one law firm partner.  Hidden behind all the cross-border matters, data protection has always been a lingering issue for any lawyer. However, since the surreptitious release of NSA files, the day to day café discussion has been emotional and heated. This has led politicians, companies and law firms in EMEA, and other parts of the world, to review practices and procedures in relation to information provided to other countries, and especially to the US. An extensive overhaul of the EU’s data protection regulation is due in 2014 with fines of up to €100m and mandatory data protection officers.  This far-reaching data protection regulation is due to replace Europe’s 1995 Data Protection Directive, following a vote by the European Union.   This new regulation is likely to result in complex technological, process and governance challenges for organisations across Europe.

“A major law firm will suffer a cyber attack”.  This is not so much a new prediction for 2014, as a continuation of a theme from 2013.  A major city law firm successfully fought a ‘drive by’ or ‘watering hole’ attack in October 2013, but it has highlighted the vulnerabilities in the legal profession.  If you attack a corporation, you get one company’s information.  If you attack a law firm, you potentially get hundreds.  As corporations strive to keep their IT infrastructure airtight, one must ask whether their legal advisors are doing the same when handling sensitive and privileged data.

“Discovery of Twitter (private messages) and Facebook accounts”.  I think we can lump these in under the general heading of  “social media”.  Without the express co-operation of the account holder, what options are there for discovery?  Using talented forensic consultants there is a possibility of finding fragments of data previously accessed on a hard drive but unless you have the user name and password the only option to obtain a full data set is a court order to the service provider.

“The first request from a lawyer will be ‘can I use predictive coding on this matter’?”  Whilst predictive coding is on the rise, our first question would be how much data, how long do you have to review?  If the matter fits we will happily unleash our expertise on said lawyer, providing consultancy and guidance. Predictive coding is finally entering the mainstream, and as we see it being used more and more often as lawyers become familiar with the technology, I can see lawyers asking for its use, rather than it being suggested to them.

Finally, is there potential for a shift in the way ediscovery is approached? Perhaps ediscovery will start being considered as part of the integral process of litigation, competition cases and internal investigations and “In 2014 the worlds of law, technology and business will finally converge as they should!”

In conclusion, the most important predictions of the year ahead:

  •  “Warrington Wolves to win the rugby league super league”
  • “Royal Wedding – Harry and a posh blond”
  • And most importantly “We discover Sherlock can fly”