The Internet of Things: The Next Frontier of e-Discovery

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Electronic discovery (e-discovery) is the hottest thing in legal case management software right now. Software developers in the legal tech sector are scrambling to perfect e-discovery tools so as to grab their share of the burgeoning market. Needless to say they have a long way to go. And before they get there, they are going to have to tackle the next great frontier of e-discovery: the internet of things.

The internet of things (IoT) consists of that universe of devices connected to the internet. If you are of the opinion that it is a vast universe of untapped information, pat yourself on the back. Your assumption is correct. In fact, the IoT is so vast at this point that no one really knows just how much data it actually generates.

For the local law firm, the IoT represents a new stream of data that attorneys can use during the discovery phase of litigation. The problem they face is not having tools appropriate to the task. In the absence of such tools, attorneys don’t know where to look for information, how to find it, and what to do with it once they have it in their hands.

Too Complex Right Now

NuLaw, the company behind the Salesforce-based legal case management software application of the same name, says that e-discovery via the IoT is too complex for most attorneys right now. As such, attorneys tend to avoid exploring certain kinds of devices in the search for data. That should change as e-discovery tools become more intuitive.

For now, attorneys are content to limit their searches to basic devices like smartphones and computers. They already know how to scan these devices for relevant information in a short amount of time. They also know what kinds of information to look for on said devices. What they are discovering is that the IoT is far more vast.

Important information might very well be found on the entertainment system in a client’s vehicle. Attorneys might find data generated by personal assistant devices helpful. Certain kinds of cases might dictate that wearable data is valuable. The reality is that our access to data is so extensive in the modern era that its usefulness to attorneys is almost limitless. Law firms and legal tech companies like NuLaw just have to figure out how to tap it.

Staying within the Law

A secondary concern here is utilizing IoT data while still remaining within the boundaries of the law. There are privacy concerns, issues with obtaining warrants, and so forth. It’s not enough for an attorney just to assume he or she can have access to any and all data that even remotely pertains to a case.

Along those same lines is the issue of preservation. If an attorney does not understand the full scope of the IoT devices available to him/her, he/she’s not likely to demand preservation of those devices for discovery purposes. Very valuable data could be lost as a result.

The Frontier Will Be Conquered

The frontier that is the IoT will eventually be conquered one way or another. It’s simply a matter of time. Until it is, attorneys and law firms will continue struggling to find the right balance between searching for data and letting go of those data sources that are not important.

As for NuLaw and its competitors, the task at hand is to conquer the IoT frontier in order to help e-discovery reach its full potential. The players that make the greatest strides in the shortest amount of time will position themselves to be the leaders in e-discovery development.