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LegalTech 2009: The intersection of e-discovery and information governance

This is a guest post from Barclay T. Blair, author of Information Nation and head of the information governance practice at Forensics Consulting Solutions LLC.

Last week I made the trek to New York to attend LegalTech — a big trade show and conference focused on technology for the legal community. I had never attended the show before, as I had always perceived it as a niche show that focused on an area of the market that wasn’t relevant to me, i.e., IT for law firms. However, this year at least, the themes of the show were much broader and directly relevant to everyone in the IT world. More specifically, a major theme of the show was the role that IT has in controlling the e-discovery monster.

For example, the keynote address was (quite cleverly, I thought) entitled, “You wanna go to court — get a lawyer; If you wanna avoid going to court — get a records manager.” The message was clear: The real problem in e-discovery is the way we manage (or mismanage) information on a day-to-day basis. If we (and by we, I mean everyone responsible for information, including IT) did a better job of managing information, then the pain and cost of having to sift through mountains of unnecessary, duplicative, outdated and unclassified information in the 11th hour during a bet-the-company lawsuit would be significantly reduced.

It’s a message that resonates with my clients, and a reason why so many organizations today are motivating IT and legal to work together to solve this problem.

Further evidence of e-discovery and information governance coming together at the show was found in Autonomy (an e-discovery software provider, among other things) announcing its acquisition of Interwoven (a content management vendor). The vision for this acquisition, as explained in a standing room-only luncheon presentation, was to provide software that helps companies with both ends of the problem. In other words, to manage information better on the business side so that when litigation hits, e-discovery is less costly and painful. It was a message repeated by other vendors across the show floor.

Another key theme that I observed at the show was the rising importance of tools that promise to automatically classify information — whether for information governance or e-discovery purposes. This has been emerging for several years but perhaps is starting to hit its stride. I think autoclassification technologies (about which I will write more later) will be an important part of the IT and information governance toolbox in the months and years to come, as we all look for ways to understand, use and manage our information assets better.

Barclay T. Blair is a consultant to Fortune 500 companies, software and hardware vendors and government institutions, and is an author, speaker and internationally recognized authority on a broad range of policy, compliance and management issues related to information governance and IT. Blair heads the information governance practice at Forensics Consulting Service LLC, and can be reached at or (403) 638-9302.

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