E discovery based legal research is indeed getting to be very unaffordable for the common man. Recently on 20th March 2007, a US Supreme Court judge (Justice Breyer) for the first time had to speak out on e-discovery during a panel discussion with law professors, industry leaders and other attorneys on the impact of e-discovery held in Georgetown University Law Center. The jurists even warned that if the trend continued only the rich will be able to afford the legal system and others may have to seek alternative avenues like arbitration or simple pleadings. He was worried about the escalating cost of e-discovery. In the judge’s own words,
“If it really costs millions to do that (e-discovery), then you’re going to drive out of the litigation system a lot of people who ought to be there. They’ll go to arbitration . . . They will go somewhere where they will write their own discovery rules, and I think that is unfortunate in many ways.”
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The recommendation made at the end of the discussions clearly stated that as per the new FRCP (Federal Rules of Civil Procedure) regulations and amendments, documents retention, email management, data archiving, data retrieval and document management policies were to be consistently implemented and followed by law firms and companies so that legal research and e discovery costs can be curbed over time.
It is true that technology has created a problem by making available access to massive amount of data. However it is also a fact that the courts cannot recommend neglect of the ever-growing vast body of evidence available via electronic information and e-discovery as this would hinder the justice system. The problem has to be skillfully solved with the help of technology and the combined wisdom of IT specialists, and the law and business communities.
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