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11 New Year's Resolutions for 2023 with an eDiscovery Twist

Cat Casey
December 27, 2023

15 min read

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As 2022 ends, it is that time of year again. When ambition meets motivation, and each of us think about what we will change, improve, or stop doing in the new year. With the traditional personal resolutions come many professional ones too boot, so let’s dig into some cheeky New Year’s resolutions for lawyers, legal teams, and legal technologists alike with a firmly eDiscovery twist!

Memes added, because why not!

New Year’s Resolution 1: Beat the Data Bloat

Jogging off the remnants of Christmas cookies, latkes or fruitcake is one of the most broken personal New Year’s Resolutions. But that does not have to be the cake when it comes to losing the spare data tire so many organizations currently have.

There is no time like January to conduct a data mapping exercise, cut the fat when it comes to legacy data from sunset systems, or to tighten your data retention policies. With the pressures of data privacy and cybersecurity breathing down many organizations’ throats and the risk of over preserving data ever present, there is not time like the new year to chunk the data chub.

New Year’s Resolution 2: Spend Less Save More on eDiscovery

Another all too common and all too often broken New Year’s resolution is to save more and spend less. For budget conscious legal professionals, the eDiscovery New Year’s Resolution is much the same. Especially given the current economic uncertainty, the drum beat of efficiency and cost containment can be heard far and wide.

Time consuming document review is not just inefficient but also costly, more AI driven eDiscovery process are a sure bet to make sure you do not break with eDiscovery New Year’s Resolution. January is a great time to start initiatives that pilot, evaluate, or generally kick the tires on legal technology that is more all-in-on-ai.

New Year’s Resolution 3: Go on an ESI Diet

While the first resolution is about beating the data bloat for existing legacy ESI spare tires, this one is more about reducing overall consumption. Creating clear policies about use of social media and other app-based tools is a great first step in starting an ESI diet.

Evaluating the scope of data litigation support currently has under legal hold or included in their custodian questionnaires is another way to feel the data burn. In-house attorneys can shine a light on shadow IT and explicitly caution against use of tools like Discord, Signal, Slack and more for business purposes. While not fail proof, it is a great first step in taming the ESI beast.

New Year’s Resolution 4: Reduce eDiscovery Stress with AI

While de-stressing in personal life may include meditation, yoga, and long walks along the beach, Law firms and legal service providers can tackle the eDiscovery stress monster more directly by leveraging AI-powered tools to drive efficiency. Making time-consuming document review more streamlined and surfacing key insights more quickly with data visualization and AI is enough to make for a very happy new year indeed!

New Year’s Resolution 5: Clean out Your Data Closet

Spring cleaning New year’s Resolutions may entail trips to drop off donations at goodwill and asking yourself more than once, Does this Spark Joy” ala Marie Kondo, for eDiscovery professionals it is even simpler.

For legacy tech, backup tapes, data far outside of preservation obligations or long overdue to be pulled off legal hold you must ask yourself one simple question. Do I need this anymore. The data breach risk and general over retention risk data poses is enough to make this one New Year’s Resolution most definitely worth sticking with.

New Year’s Resolution 6: Go on a Digital Detox

Given the crazy surge of new data types (from new kids on the social media block to the Metaverse and even generative AI, Oh My) next year is a great time to start an organizational digital detox.

Clearly identifying the methods your organization is using to communicate (is there Slacking or Signal or Wickr in the Mix) and creating clear policies about permissible use is a superb first step in taming the ESI beast. Perhaps not a FULL detox, but certainly better than no holds barred approach many currently employ.

New Year’s Resolution 7: Learn Something New

Especially in as fast moving an industry as eDiscovery and given the uncertain economic climate, upskilling is critically important. Use the calm before the storm of early January to listen to podcasts, get certified, try out new tech and pick the big brains of all your data dorks. Learning something new is always a great idea and before the craziness of the year gets into full swing is a great time to get started!

New Year’s Resolution 8: Break up with Bad Legal Tech

Much like the cleaning your data closet resolution above, if the legal tech stack you have does not spark joy, cut your losses, and write a dear john letter! The beginning of the year is as good a time as any to reassess your tech stack. Does your Frankenstack have future with you, and cut your losses and retire the sunk cost fallacy in favor of better solutions to drive the efficiency you need today!!

New Year’s Resolution 9: Pay off Tech Debt

For some organizations as much at 75% of their internal IT budget is dedicated to supporting legacy technology. This is creating a massive tech debt that must be paid down to become data driven and efficient.

What the Heck is Tech Debt?

Much like financial debt, tech debt is comprised of two parts: Principal and Interest.

  • Interest - Think of this as a complex task, where you require complex workarounds or bespoke workflows to make tech not developed for a specific use case. These integrations and customizations add up big time.
  • Principal - Cost of modernizing the dated or not fit-for-purpose tech for the current needs of an organization. This includes the development of middleware, deferred maintenance, modifications to comply with data standards, and the need to engage third parties to support the software.

Principal plus interest in the arena of tech debt translates into more time and money to understand what is going on in your data. Years of “fixes”, “upgrades” and “manual workarounds” add up in a big way.

For this eDiscovery twist, use the beginning of the year to assess your legacy tech debt, to evaluate new integrated solutions that do not require so many work arounds, and dare I say try something new!

New Year’s Resolution 10: Put Down the Cell Phone

In the same vein as the data detox resolution, Legal professionals would be well served to be wary of the short format communications contained in their handy dandy iPhone and those of their employees.

The recent FTX “Wire Fraud” chat group is only the latest example of the dangers and permanence of ESI created in mobile app data. Limiting app downloads on company devices, clearly communicating permissible use of BYOD or company cell phones for business purposes and downright taking a cell phone vacation are all great ways to tighten your ESI belt.

New Year’s Resolution 11: Embrace Your Inner eDiscovery Rockstar with AI

And finally, what better year than 2023 to embrace the Ai tech that is revolutionizing how we live work and play. With the mass adoption of Generative AI (DALLE-2, ChatGPT, etc.) and the wide adoption of tools like google, amazon and GPS, few people can honestly say that they are not using AI. Why not make 2023 the year that you bring the powerful force multiplying impact of AI from your personal into your professional legal lives!

Wishing everyone great success with keeping these eDiscovery New Year’s Resolutions next year!!

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