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In the last decade, we have become accustomed to a “know-now” state of existence, thanks in large part to smart phones and other technological advances. With the touch of a button, we can immediately order and pay for a ride; get real-time traffic updates; watch any movie we’d like; and answer questions instantly.

Today, our ability to immediately access most information and services isn’t particularly shocking to us. In fact, we expect it. So why don’t we expect a “know-now” state in the world of e-discovery?

“Yesteryear”: The Era of “Know Eventually”

E-discovery has changed immensely since the Zubulake v UBS Warburg ruling and the 2006 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). But back then, we were in what might be termed a “know-eventually” state where everything was manual and so much was still paper. Everything had to be done on-site, and sometimes at multiple sites. This approach took a lot of time and expense, and afterward you still didn’t truly know if you had looked through the right documents. But that was normal, and no one thought twice about “knowing eventually,” because traditionally discovery was a slow burn, which was just the price of protecting your organization.

Where We Are: Know Sooner

Since then, with the urging of the court and the ballooning costs of e-discovery, legal teams have been in a “know-sooner” state. Certainly, innovation and technology have sped up the identification, collection, processing, and review stages. But the processes, technologies, and even the people involved in accomplishing these tasks are still very fractured and fragmented. Different tools handle different stages of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM), and sometimes multiple tools are used for handling the same stage. There are multiple stakeholders involved, including in-house legal teams made up of attorneys, lit support, IT, and legal project managers; and third party technology service providers and outside counsel, which add to the complexity and opacity throughout. Further, there are multiple handoffs between technologies and stakeholders that slow down and add cost and risk to the process.

On top of this, the expectations for legal have changed within most organizations. Business leaders no longer give legal departments a free pass. The C-Suite is putting pressure on GCs and chief learning officers (CLOs) to make transform legal from a cost center to a cost saver. Unfortunately for most, they don’t know how to meet these new expectations, making the current “know sooner” mentality inadequate, inefficient and incapable of becoming the cost saver the business units need it to become.

Where some Are, But Where We All Should Be: Know Now

A number of forward-thinking legal teams are quickly adapting to this new reality. With the new 2015 FRCP e-discovery rules as an impetus, these teams are leveraging technology to manage, measure, and optimize their processes. In turn, these processes are enabling them to quickly identify responsive data; effectively craft proportionality arguments; accurately predict costs; leverage analytics and management dashboards to proactively and quickly resolve communication or workload issues; and ensure defensibility across all their activities. Information is available anytime, from anywhere, on practically any device – the hallmarks of a “know now” state.

Yet despite the successes these teams are seeing, 62 percent of respondents to Exterro’s Ninth Annual Law Department Operations Survey said they currently have no plans for new technology initiatives, which doesn’t surprise me. Two years ago, in Exterro’s 2015 Federal Judges Survey, one judge stated that, “Frequently, knowledge about e-discovery is asymmetrical, with one side having no clue.”

No one wants to be on that side. Fragmented knowledge must be mended and strengthened, the fractured nature of legal operations must be brought into alignment, so that business and legal operations can move to an efficiency yet largely unseen. If you’re currently suffering from a disjointed process, now is the time to align the fractured and fragmented nature of legal operations, because the key to everything is getting to the facts of the case as soon as possible. And let’s face it, there is no sooner than now.

In the last decade, we have become accustomed to a “know-now” state of existence, thanks in large part to smart phones and other technological advances. With the touch of a button, we can immediately order and pay for a ride; get real-time traffic updates; watch any movie we’d like; and answer questions instantly.

Today, our ability to immediately access most information and services isn’t particularly shocking to us. In fact, we expect it. So why don’t we expect a “know-now” state in the world of e-discovery?

“Yesteryear”: The Era of “Know Eventually”

E-discovery has changed immensely since the Zubulake v UBS Warburg ruling and the 2006 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). But back then, we were in what might be termed a “know-eventually” state where everything was manual and so much was still paper. Everything had to be done on-site, and sometimes at multiple sites. This approach took a lot of time and expense, and afterward you still didn’t truly know if you had looked through the right documents. But that was normal, and no one thought twice about “knowing eventually,” because traditionally discovery was a slow burn, which was just the price of protecting your organization.

Where We Are: Know Sooner

Since then, with the urging of the court and the ballooning costs of e-discovery, legal teams have been in a “know-sooner” state. Certainly, innovation and technology have sped up the identification, collection, processing, and review stages. But the processes, technologies, and even the people involved in accomplishing these tasks are still very fractured and fragmented. Different tools handle different stages of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM), and sometimes multiple tools are used for handling the same stage. There are multiple stakeholders involved, including in-house legal teams made up of attorneys, lit support, IT, and legal project managers; and third party technology service providers and outside counsel, which add to the complexity and opacity throughout. Further, there are multiple handoffs between technologies and stakeholders that slow down and add cost and risk to the process.

On top of this, the expectations for legal have changed within most organizations. Business leaders no longer give legal departments a free pass. The C-Suite is putting pressure on GCs and chief learning officers (CLOs) to make transform legal from a cost center to a cost saver. Unfortunately for most, they don’t know how to meet these new expectations, making the current “know sooner” mentality inadequate, inefficient and incapable of becoming the cost saver the business units need it to become.

Where some Are, But Where We All Should Be: Know Now

A number of forward-thinking legal teams are quickly adapting to this new reality. With the new 2015 FRCP e-discovery rules as an impetus, these teams are leveraging technology to manage, measure, and optimize their processes. In turn, these processes are enabling them to quickly identify responsive data; effectively craft proportionality arguments; accurately predict costs; leverage analytics and management dashboards to proactively and quickly resolve communication or workload issues; and ensure defensibility across all their activities. Information is available anytime, from anywhere, on practically any device – the hallmarks of a “know now” state.

Yet despite the successes these teams are seeing, 62 percent of respondents to Exterro’s Ninth Annual Law Department Operations Survey said they currently have no plans for new technology initiatives, which doesn’t surprise me. Two years ago, in Exterro’s 2015 Federal Judges Survey, one judge stated that, “Frequently, knowledge about e-discovery is asymmetrical, with one side having no clue.”

No one wants to be on that side. Fragmented knowledge must be mended and strengthened, the fractured nature of legal operations must be brought into alignment, so that business and legal operations can move to an efficiency yet largely unseen. If you’re currently suffering from a disjointed process, now is the time to align the fractured and fragmented nature of legal operations, because the key to everything is getting to the facts of the case as soon as possible. And let’s face it, there is no sooner than now.