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. …