Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Electronic Data Discovery Is Hot Business

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Electronic Data Discovery Is Hot Business

Article excerpt

MILWAUKEE - In 1987, there was one business dedicated solely to providing electronic data discovery (EDD) services. In 1992, there were about five more. In 2000, there were about 40. Today, there are over 600 offerings, or purporting to offer, these services. They range in size from very large enterprises, to one or two people.

So say George Socha and Thomas Gelbmann, two St. Paul-based law technology consultants who have studied the wildfire expansion of the EDD industry for the past five years.

Their latest report, entitled the Socha-Gelbmann Electronic Discovery Survey Report, concludes that in calendar 2006, commercial EDD revenues were about $2 billion, up 51 percent from 2005.

Socha was approached in spring 2003 by a firm providing EDD, among other services, to study the status quo, potential growth, key issues and trends within the industry. That firm was looking to expand the scope of its EDD services, but wanted to be sure the market was strong. To their surprise, no market research firm had ever examined the industry, and those it had discussed the idea with said that, because it was such a new area, they would need to spend time learning the industry first before commencing a study. That was too costly a proposition.

Socha, a former litigator who, at the time, was transitioning into a law tech consulting practice, asked Gelbmann to help him. Gelbmann, an independent law tech consultant, had worked as an IT professional in Minneapolis law firms for over 20 years, but he also had experience in market research within the legal field.

Although the two also have private consulting practices, they say the report is a massive annual undertaking. This year's report is 334 pages in length, with hundreds of supporting tables and charts.

The two begin their work in October, inviting over 1,000 people to participate. They send them extremely detailed spreadsheet questionnaires, and conduct lengthy interviews with each. In April, they begin their analysis, inserting the data into models and doing some fact-checking or "triangulation" to verify data. Then in June, they write the report.

The findings, not surprisingly, are quite different, when comparing that first report released in 2003, versus 2007's.

Socha says, "The market is much larger now; there are many more dollars spent; and there are many, many more players, both as active providers and active consumers of EDD services. …

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