The Future of EDD in a Wounded Economy

, Legaltech News

   | 4 Comments

The following article is a preview from the February issue of Law Technology News.

In something of an impromptu Philip K. Dick film festival, I had a chance to revisit the still-inspired 1982 "Blade Runner" and the still-disappointing 1990 "Total Recall."

The first showed a billboard for Pan American Airlines, circa 2019; the other for a Sharper Image store, circa 2084. Of course, Pan Am (its lunar shuttle also figured prominently in "2001: A Space Odyssey") collapsed just 10 years after "Blade Runner"'s release, and Sharper Image closed all stores last year.

Perhaps there is a lesson here: These cinachronisms bear out the folly of assuming too much about the future. Wall Street's crystal ball is no better than Hollywood's.

Going back to 1896 and the 12 companies on the original Dow Jones Industrial Average, nearly all were broken up or absorbed generations ago. Only General Electric remains a part of the DJIA. The pundits of the Roaring '20s no doubt took it for granted that U.S. Leather would stay on top -- surely industrious America would always need miles and miles of leather belts to transfer power to machinery!

Packard Motor Car Co., F.W. Woolworth Co., Trans World Airlines, Arthur Andersen, Enron Corp., Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual Inc., Heller Ehrman ... all gone. To quote Donald Rumsfeld, an expert on unforseen calamities, "Stuff happens" -- and there's more to come.

If you think the markets and indicators have bottomed out, think again. There's more smoke to clear, more mirrors to break. The electronic data discovery industry and, to a lesser extent, the legal services industry are microcosms of the broader wounded economy.

Marc Dreier, the nabob New York lawyer accused of peddling hundreds of millions of dollars of bogus commercial paper, is our industry's Mini-Me to Bernard Madoff's Dr. Evil. Tinfoil titans laid low overnight. So, write this on your hand and don't wash it off: Nothing is sacred. No one is safe. Anyone can disappear ... fast.

No matter who you are using for EDD services, now is the time to assess your exposure, mobility and disaster recovery strategy. Ponder these questions about your EDD vendors:

• How long do we anticipate the necessity of vendor involvement?

• Do they have the only accessible copy of any evidence?

• Do we have a complete copy of our vendor's work-product in a format we can use?

• How will we handle the inevitable delay occasioned by the flight of key personnel or outright failure?

• What becomes of our data in their hands in the event of bankruptcy or failure? You'd be smart to plan for these eventualities and careless not to.

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What's being said

  • Craig Ball

    The day after this column previewed on Law.com, Dennis Palmer, a company spokesman for Electronic Evidence Discovery, Inc. of Kirkland, WA said of his company,

  • Craig Ball

    The day after this column previewed on Law.com, Dennis Palmer, a company spokesman for Electronic Evidence Discovery, Inc. of Kirkland, WA said of his company,

  • Craig Ball

    The day after this column previewed on Law.com, Dennis Palmer, a company spokesman for Electronic Evidence Discovery, Inc. of Kirkland, WA said of his company,

  • Sean Doherty

    Quite right, Craig. Anyone can disappear, at any time. And a corollary may also be true. Someone may appear, at any time. We may see new market entrants in EDD with the state of the economy. With low entry barriers, new entities may appear to provide more cost-effective products and services than previously available.

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