Blame it on Target. Or Edward Snowden. But in case you haven't noticed, legal technology conversations lately aren't exactly obsessed with predictive coding right now. Instead, firms—and everyday citizens—are more likely to be discussing data breaches, cybercrimes, and concerns about confidential client information.
But according to a new survey by LexisNexis' Legal & Professional division, while law firms may be talking—they aren't doing very much about it. The company reports that 89 percent of the 300 legal professionals in 40 states and in 15 practice areas who were recently polled said their firms send confidential information to clients via unencrypted email—relying on a disclaimer at the bottom of the correspondence to serve as protection.
So what are the ramifications? How are law firms, corporate counsel and vendors responding to these sometimes contradictory technology challenges? We can get some clues from last week's Computer and Enterprise Investigations Conference, annually presented by Guidance Software.
For starters, the company has always thrown a broad cloth around its offerings. Founded in 1997, Guidance has targeted both electronic data discovery and other "digital investigations," and today offers a line of seven software under the "EnCase" brand (and a line of Tableau forensics products). The company says its EnCase Enterprise platform "is used by more than half of the Fortune 500," by the likes of Allstate, Ford, General Electric, Pfizer and Viacom, to name a few.
It's easy to see that Guidance, and its CEIC conference, covers a wide range of disciplines, including digital forensics, cybersecurity, e-discovery and litigation support, compliance and risk management, information and law enforcement.
Guidance President and CEO Victor Limongelli kicked off the 2014 four-day CEIC event with the opening keynote on May 19, explaining how the company has decided to transition to a "platform" approach for its EnCase suite of products. The concept is to move from a "closed" (self-contained) system to a more collaborative environment, where third parties can plug applications into the EnCase platform and, in effect, customize the operation to meet the specific needs of their organizations.
Perhaps Guidance is also reacting to yet another strong legal industry trend: bring your own devices. About a year ago, Guidance launched its EnCase App Central store (think Apple Inc.'s App Store). It offers apps from third-party developers that can be integrated into the EnCase platform, Limongelli explained. To date, more than 30,000 downloads from the EnCase App Central store, he told the audience.
"It's all about apps," observed San Francisco's Albert Barsocchini, director of strategic consulting at Minnesota-based NightOwl Discovery. He served as an associate general counsel at Guidance for eight years (2003-11). "EnCase is no longer closed," he said. Now, EnCase products are a foundation, and organizations can build systems on top of that foundation, said Barsocchini.
But don't think the company is throwing out its babies with the bath water. "With recent attention on data breaches, including Target Corp. and the controversy about Edward Snowden's disclosure of government documents, I expected to see cybersecurity take center stage," observed Boston's David Horrigan, an analyst and counsel at 451 Research.
Guidance has traditionally had three focus areas—forensics, cybersecurity and e-discovery," he said. "What surprised me was Limongelli’s strong focus on e-discovery, said Horrigan. "The keynote highlighted Guidance's new e-discovery offerings, including Linked Review, which we expect to be Guidance's answer to predictive coding," Horrigan noted.