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Electronic Discovery

Law schools need to step up eDiscovery education: Chan-Glasgow

With the digital universe expected to double in size every two years going forward, the demand for lawyers versed in the technical aspects of electronic discovery (eDiscovery) is growing rapidly, says Candice Chan-Glasgow, Director of Legal Review Services with Toronto-based Heuristica Discovery Counsel

But law schools are lagging behind the trend and need to do more to prepare their graduates for this expanding opportunity, she tells AdvocateDaily.com.

Chan-Glasgow has been practising in eDiscovery for five years, but when she went to law school from 2009 to 2012 she wasn’t even aware such a field existed as a career choice.

“Virtually all evidence these days is electronic — emails, word documents, scanned, the contents of laptops — everything is electronic,” she says. “This is where you find the smoking gun that can completely change your litigation strategy.”

At Heuristica, all the firm’s lawyers trained in the technical areas of eDiscovery as well as the legal ones, Chan-Glasgow says.

“When lawyers are driving the technology you get a better work product because they understand if documents are important or not. They know what they’re looking for. Whereas if you were to separate that function, or to have someone behind the scenes running the searches and analytics, they will not be able to iteratively respond to the documents.”

Chan-Glasgow is also secretary of the Ontario Bar Association’s E-Discovery Implementation Committee (EIC), which promotes thought leadership and best practices in electronic discovery.

“We have an outreach group that has been trying to connect with law schools to suggest they start teaching students about this area of law, but we haven’t had much success,” she says.

“There is a small program the EIC was able to set up with the Ryerson University Law Practice Program, a two-day seminar on eDiscovery. We’re hopeful that once Ryerson opens a law school, with a focus on innovation and technology, they will implement an eDiscovery course. Heuristica also recently taught a one-week seminar on eDiscovery at McGill University, but that’s about it.”

It’s hard to say why, Chan-Glasgow says.

“Maybe people don’t appreciate that this is a rapidly expanding area. Many aren’t themselves competent in the area.”

As a practice area, e-Discovery is rewarding, she says, in part because of the exposure to a wide range of practice areas.

“We do all manner of commercial litigation, class actions, employment issues, construction litigation, competition requests, internal investigations. This is what makes the work interesting.”

Chan-Glasgow says eDiscovery has been growing as a niche practice area.

“There are more and more positions available in the field, in-house and with independent providers,” she says.

The richest trove of eDiscovery materials is email, Chan-Glasgow says.

“Even though email technology has been around almost 30 years, people used to pick up the phone and talk much more than they do now,” she says.

“When people used the phone, that’s when you wouldn’t have as much electronic evidence. Now, you have people sending hundreds of emails a day. If the relevant period of the litigation is, say, five to 10 years and there are 20 people involved, that’s a lot of electronic data to be reviewed.”

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