Every year comes with new challenges for the legal industry. From growing volumes of data to more complex laws and regulations, legal teams face increasing pressure to streamline their operations and reduce related costs year after year.
That said, there are a host of new AI tools and technologies that can help streamline and simplify each stage of the eDiscovery process to effectively manage all corporate data. However, the question is: How well are these helpful tools being adopted across the legal industry?
In partnership with the Association of E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS), we’ve surveyed over 300 eDiscovery practitioners across law firms and corporate, to better understand how AI is deployed across the legal industry.
We’ve compiled all the findings of this survey as well as shared some in-depth best practices on how you can improve your use of eDiscovery technology in our most recently released 2023 State of eDiscovery Technology Adoption Report.
In this blog, we will highlight the 5 key findings of this report.
Finding #1: One third of the surveyed corporate legal professionals see room for improvement in how they leverage eDiscovery technology. Roughly 50% of the surveyed law firm professionals agree on that.
34% of survey respondents said that they feel neutral about the level of adoption and usage of technology by their teams within their day-to-day tasks. Therefore, we might infer that roughly one third of the surveyed corporate legal professionals see opportunities for improving their use of eDiscovery technology.
When prompted to reflect on the extent to which they are satisfied with how their firms use technology in their day-to-day tasks, over 50% of our law firm survey respondents said they are (very) happy with it. That said, roughly 50% of law firm professionals are either neutral, unhappy with how they apply eDiscovery technology, or believe there’s room for improvement in relation to how law firms leverage eDiscovery technology.
Finding #2: Prioritizing data review, finding evidence faster, organizing large volumes of data among the key drivers for adopting AI-driven eDiscovery technology among corporate legal teams. Reviewing more data sets in less time and organizing large volumes of data among the key reasons for adopting AI-driven eDiscovery technology among law firms.
A bit over half of the corporate legal survey respondents who adopted AI-driven technology (52%) couldn’t choose one key driver for adopting AI, saying that all of the following were reasons for their organization to implement an eDiscovery solution:
- prioritizing data review and minimizing the time, cost, and complexity of eDiscovery process;
- finding evidence faster within investigations;
- organizing large volumes of data, and giving access to the materials when you need it;
- defensibility: using AI tools as a set of quality controls or an assistant to attorney review.
As to the law firm respondents, 60% of them couldn’t choose one key reason that made them adopt an AI-powered eDiscovery solution, saying that all of the following were drivers for their law firms to adopt AI:
- review more data sets in less time;
- find evidence faster within investigations
- organize large volumes of data, and give access to the materials when you need it;
- identify privilege documents, auto-redact and verify privilege coding;
Finding #3: Internal investigations triggered by an external factor represent the main practice area for AI-powered technology application among corporate law departments. Meanwhile, civil litigations are the main practice area for AI-powered tech application among law firms.
The corporate legal survey respondents indicated internal investigations triggered by an external factor (such as white collar crime, fraud, regulatory investigations) as the most common practice area for applying AI-driven eDiscovery technology (chosen by 35% of corporate law practitioners).
That said, 31% of respondents marked ‘data privacy and cyber security regulations’ as the main practice area for AI tech application, followed by 29% who selected ‘internal investigation - triggered by an internal factor, such as compliance program or HR’ as the main use case for their eDiscovery solution.
When looking at the law firm professionals’ survey responses, we see that 69% of them said their teams use AI-powered eDiscovery technology the most when conducting any form of civil litigation.
Finding #4: ‘Classification of documents’ and ‘concept search’ features were most widely used to respond to an inquiry or litigation in 2022 among corporate legal teams. Meanwhile, ‘Technology Assisted Review’ and ‘Classification of documents’ features were most widely used to respond to an inquiry or litigation in 2022 among law firms.
Next, we examined the particular AI capabilities that corporate legal professionals and law firm teams used the most to respond to an inquiry or litigation in 2022.
Roughly 40% of corporate legal practitioners seem to have used features that allow classification of documents the most when responding to a litigation or inquiry in 2022.
Concept search is the second most popular feature used by corporate legal teams to respond to inquiries or litigations in 2022, chosen by 37% of survey respondents.
That said, 60% of law firm respondents said they regularly used Technology Assisted Review the most when responding to a litigation or inquiry in 2022.
Document classification is the second most popular feature used by law firm professionals to respond to inquiries or litigations in 2022, chosen by roughly 49% of survey respondents.
How the Adoption of AI tools in eDiscovery technology changed over years: 2022 vs 2021 findings
When outlining the key findings of this year’s survey, we traced some similarities with the trends highlighted in the 2022 State of AI Adoption in Legal Discovery report.
To better contrast the differences and affinities of the results from the two reports, we’ve illustrated the adoption of AI-driven features in eDiscovery software among law firms that we surveyed at the end of 2022 versus those surveyed at the end of 2021.
As the majority of survey respondents in 2021 were law firms and external service providers; for the purpose of this section’s results comparison, we focused on benchmarking the 2021 findings against the answers we received this year from our law firm respondents only.
That said, the graph below illustrates how law firms applied eDiscovery AI features within their practices in 2021 vs 2022.
Comparison between the adoption of AI in eDiscovery 2022 vs 2021
What immediately stands out is the prevalence of the TAR, Concept Search, and Document Classification features’ usage in both late 2021 and late 2022.
Noteworthy, since the size of the research population of the two reports differs, this could lead to greater variability in the data, hence it is impossible to draw precise conclusions as to whether the adoption of AI-driven features has considerably grown or reduced over the past year. Nevertheless, we can clearly see a trend in some AI features being more popular than others among law firms within the past two years.
More specifically, we see that Technology Assisted Review remains the most popular AI tool among law firms - with 80% of them selecting it as their most used feature in 2021 vs 60% in 2022.
Document classification is the second most popular choice made by the surveyed law firms in late 2022, whereas in 2021, law firms used concept search the second most to improve the quality of their work.
The least used AI-driven eDiscovery features in 2021 were image classification (~22%) and dark language detection (~24%); whereas in 2022 the least popular capabilities include network analysis (<10%); and sentiment analysis (~11%).
For more findings and best practices on how you can improve your use of technology, download our full 2023 State of eDiscovery Technology Adoption Report via the link.