LegalTech NY 2009 – bring it in house, control the spend

I heard from veterans that this year’s LegalTech New York was smaller than last, but I can’t say that knowledge made it any less intimidating for a first-timer. Several in the booths told me that despite the lower numbers, the quality of customer was going up – there were fewer tire-kickers and swag-grabbers and more substantial customer prospects. An encouraging sign in a down economy.

Not surprisingly, in the booths and in the conference halls one of the biggest themes was cost. This jibes with a key finding from our December report on e-discovery and e-disclosure, basically that they’re out of control. Another of our projections, the moving of e-discovery in-house in corporations, was a concurrent theme as one of the best means of reducing those spends.  Vendors seem to be moving further leftward in the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) towards the earliest stages of data creation in order to capture more of the revenue from this, also as we reported.

The YouTube town hall meeting gave good insight into what issues are important to the legal community in dealing with the challenges of e-discovery.  Some of the hot-button issues:

  • Search methods in review, their transparency and defensibility.
  • International e-discovery considerations such as cultural differences, data privacy and the importance of Unicode in multilingual review.
  • Monica Bay, editor-in-chief of Law Technology News (LTN) made points in a youtube question about jargon involved in vendor claims (some that resonated with my own experience) – namely that the same ten terms of jargon are used by all vendors to describe their considerably different products, and these are often not well understood by potential buyers. In my experience, terms such as concept search can be confusing and early case assessment can vary greatly in definition and execution from vendor to vendor, but now seem to be offered by many of them with minimal explanation.

To build on that point, it’s a common complaint in any market that vendors are “selling what they have,” versus what the customer needs, but in such a critical area as e-discovery this can be downright dangerous. The consumer needs to be armed with information and expertise in order to make an informed choice – probably one of the reasons that service providers and consultants remain some of the most trusted entities in the field.

The hottest topic NOT discussed in the panels and sessions (at least the ones I attended) was the Autonomy-Interwoven acquisition and what it will mean for the market, about which 451 subscribers can learn more here and here.

Overall the show brought together some of the best minds in the industry for a slightly dizzying wealth of legal and market information. Let me not forget a big “thank you” to the several vendors who met with me to discuss their products and views on the market landscape over the three days. Here’s looking forward to next year.

For additional perspective, see the excellent coverage from Rob Robinson of Orange LT, Whit Andrews at Gartner, and Sean Doherty at

Tags: ,


#1 Rob Robinson on 02.05.09 at 7:08 pm


Thanks you for the kind mention – and your shared insight – and I am really intrigued by the comment on the importance of Unicode in multilingual review. In your estimation – and those you spoke with – can an eDiscovery “search” be reasonable without Unicode support (i.e. UTF-8?).

Again – thanks for the posts/coverage of the industry.

#2 Katey Wood on 02.06.09 at 9:56 am

I don’t pretend to be an expert on the intricacies of Unicode, but here at 451 we see the problems of e-discovery and e-disclosure very much as international concerns – even if they are most obvious in the US adversarial court system and many other English-speaking countries right now. Products without adequate multi-lingual support will not be prepared for the demands the volume of ESI is going to put on international organizations. And consequently won’t be prepared to succeed in those markets. Multilingual support will end up being a differentiator as e-discovery moves further abroad and could possibly thin out the market some here.

As an example, witness Fios’s recent partnership with iConect, which I understand was motivated by iConect’s Unicode support for Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Punjabi, and Russian. These capabilities are becoming less optional for players seeking to expand to organizations involved in international business.

So back to the question a search can certainly be reasonable without Unicode, but it won’t be adequate forever or in all circumstances 😉