The convergence of e-discovery, compliance, data privacy and cybersecurity
Ari Kaplan. Photo by Tori Soper.
Ari Kaplan recently spoke with Eric Robinson, the vice president of global advisory services and strategic client solutions at software company KLDiscovery.
Ari Kaplan: Tell us about your background and your role at KLDiscovery.
Eric Robinson: I have been working in and combining litigation management, e-discovery and data governance for my entire career in the legal/data management sector. I have been fortunate that across my career, I have had the opportunity to work in corporate legal, law firms and have been on the provider side with KLDiscovery for almost 16 years. This has provided me with a unique opportunity to develop and grow a very consultative strategic approach to client service. I and my team assist our clients in managing challenges in e-discovery, information governance, incident response and forensic consulting, as well as focusing on custom client solutions.
Ari Kaplan: What are the most common questions and advisory services that your clients ask you about?
Eric Robinson: In addition to core e-discovery, we are increasingly engaged with respect to data management, information governance, compliance and incident-response matters. My team and I work closely with clients to guide them through the discovery, data management and compliance processes through the evaluation of current protocols, recommending enhancements and implementing these strategies. We have also seen a marked increase in client requests to have KLD provide expert services and testimony. Additionally, as the data sources have changed with the growth of Microsoft Teams and Google Workplace, among others, we are educating and empowering clients to independently conduct defensible data collections within their own environments. We increasingly offer consulting to help them avoid the pitfalls of custodial self-collection. We are also very involved in cyber incident response, particularly focused on managing data after identifying certain compromised datasets. With respect to our incident-response services, we have developed a consultative approach to assist clients with data minimization before performing a data mining review and creating customized reporting to meet client needs.
Ari Kaplan: How do you incorporate KLDiscovery’s Nebula platform into the services you provide?
Eric Robinson: The Nebula platform is our ecosystem that provides our clients with an integrated environment, where they can manage their data from preservation through production. At the core of the Nebula ecosystem is our robust review tool, designed intentionally to be intuitive, easy to use and flexible based on the user’s proficiency. The platform helps with early data and case assessment to interrogate data in the early stages. For a full review, it allows us to deploy our unique review enhancement and acceleration tools/protocols to ensure that our clients understand their entire set of data quickly, efficiently and defensibly. The ecosystem also extends to the left side of the EDRM, providing an archiving and preservation solution that helps legal teams manage large volumes of data for internal preservation or to create secure external repositories.
Ari Kaplan: Why do e-discovery, compliance, data privacy and cybersecurity seem to be converging?
Eric Robinson: Each of those components requires a defined process to ensure that an organization is in alignment, either with a regulatory scheme or a litigation schedule, so they are all associated at some level with compliance. In e-discovery, there is a specific concern with preservation and spoliation, as well as compliance with data privacy regulations. While in privacy, there is no overarching federal law; however, multiple states have passed their own data privacy rules, creating a spider web of regulations. Add to that the GDPR and other international privacy regulations, and you get another layer of complexity. Privacy and cybersecurity come together because in today’s world, securing data and protecting your data is paramount. When data is compromised, having robust processes and protocols in place is essential, particularly in response to downstream investigations and litigation. A legal team cannot generally think about e-discovery today without considering data privacy, just as you cannot evaluate organizational compliance programs without understanding how you manage e-discovery and privacy. It is a modern spiderweb, where all these disciplines are interconnected within every organization.
Ari Kaplan: What effect will artificial intelligence have on this alignment?
Eric Robinson: It’s already having a big effect. AI has been incorporated into most things we do every day, whether it is a simple chatbot on a website or leveraging natural language processing in e-discovery. Some organizations are also using AI technology to aid in managing their privacy and compliance programs and to better understand and manage their contracts. Generative AI, which is just a form of AI, is also being leveraged to draft agreements. In cybersecurity, AI is helping to identify threats and defensibly mine data to document the impacted entities and designate the sensitive data that may have been compromised.
Ari Kaplan: How are e-discovery professionals using information governance to lower their risks?
Eric Robinson: The governance you employ around your data management is directly related to your downstream level of complexity in e-discovery and overall compliance. Teams that develop and implement information and data governance programs have a more focused portfolio of information to manage. Organizations that do not do so generally find themselves with much more data than they need and generally have less insight into what data they actually have, which materially increases the risk associated with the data, as well as the time and expense of any given matter. Implementing clear retention and disposition policies that designate and classify data streamlines the discovery process significantly.
Ari Kaplan: How do you see e-discovery evolving?
Eric Robinson: The biggest elephant in the room is how AI will impact e-discovery. In fact, it is already having an effect because of its application to data. We will likely see greater use and implementation of artificial intelligence and advanced analytics tools to more effectively interpret data in the early stages of a matter and then expedite the identification and review of documents. During the review process, AI will create efficiencies in staffing, both positive and negative, but ultimately, there will be opportunities for proactive professionals to develop and enhance valuable new skills associated with leveraging AI. Natural language processing and predictive analytics are already part of the fabric of e-discovery, so we are likely to see expanded and broader usage of many forms of AI, along with a number of new roles for those with the appropriate skills to support new practices.
Editor’s Note: KLDiscovery is the sponsor of Ari Kaplan Advisors’ The Virtual Lunch in November, which is unrelated to the Reinventing Professionals podcast but is hosted by Ari Kaplan.
Listen to the complete interview at Reinventing Professionals.
Ari Kaplan regularly interviews leaders in the legal industry and in the broader professional services community to share perspective, highlight transformative change and introduce new technology at his blog and on iTunes.
This column reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily the views of the ABA Journal—or the American Bar Association.