EDiscovery Usage in Family Law vs Other Segments

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EDiscovery Usage in Family Law vs Other Segments


From 2010 until now, there has been a large increase in the use of eDiscovery in legal cases. Family law most often sees requests for digital communications. Increasing Federal regulations are impacting when and how often lawyers can use electronically discoverable information sources and how the information therein is found.

This report provides publicly available data on the use of eDiscovery in legal cases along with an overview of a few factors that affect when eDiscovery is chosen and utilized.
eDiscovery Social Media Sources

Creative Solutions

  • Information pertaining to family law and eDiscovery data usage was limited in the public domain.
  • Therefore, we provided helpful findings that detail the most relevant information surrounding eDiscovery used in law.
  • Please refer to the Research Strategy for additional information surrounding the research process.

Complete Findings

Data on eDiscovery Usage Rates

  • A 2010 survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers revealed that 81% of leading divorce attorneys in the United States observed a rise in cases utilizing social media evidence in the past five years. Additionally, 65% of these attorneys identified Facebook as the predominant source of such online evidence.
  • Moving forward 12 years to 2022, 81% of family law attorneys in general noted that evidence discovered on social media platforms was valuable enough to present in court.
  • In family law, the most sought-after information is communications such as calls, emails, text messages, and third-party messaging services from services like Facebook and WhatsApp. The second most popular evidence is internet browser history.
  • In North America, 63% of professionals are placing emphasis on the eDiscovery market.
  • A 2023 State of Law Firm Industry report notes that AI-powered eDiscovery technology is being considered by numerous attorneys. Of the surveyed law professionals, 69% stated that they use AI-powered eDiscovery technology for any form of civil litigation. This includes the classification of documents and "technology-assisted review".
  • An astounding 80% of law firm professionals feel that AI-driven eDiscovery technologies can assist their practices in lowering costs, reducing the time to query documents, and improving overall operational efficiency.
  • 95% of legal professionals anticipate cloud-based e-discovery to soon become the industry standard.
  • An older resource (2015), highlights that 97% of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers have seen an increase of divorce evidence being gathered from smartphones. The majority of this information came from social media profiles like Facebook (41%), Twitter (17%), and Instagram (16%).

Key Factors In Deciding to Use eDiscovery

  • The scope of e-discovery depends on the jurisdiction. Federal and some state courts require parties to address e-discovery, including identifying electronically stored information (ESI) sources, during initial conferences. Even without court mandates, parties often negotiate e-discovery protocols covering search terms, data collection, and production formats. Competent representation requires lawyers to understand clients' systems and data to effectively negotiate e-discovery.
  • The rise of ESI requires lawyers to assess e-discovery costs when producing electronic documents. Under Federal Rule 26(b)(1), lawyers must understand the client's cost and burden of responding to requests to make proportionality objections. Without this knowledge, lawyers may waive valid proportionality objections, resulting in unnecessary client expense for producing ESI.
  • Lawyers must take precautions to avoid inadvertent disclosure of privileged information during e-discovery, as required by ABA Model Rule 1.6. This duty becomes increasingly difficult with the growth of ESI sources.
  • In Maryland, attorneys handling child abuse cases find it difficult to wade through the enormous amount of documentation. Ada Hutsten, a paralegal, notes that they might have 4,000 documents that need to be reviewed 200 times for one specific issue and because of this, they will never get to 100% of everything. Using eDiscovery tools allows the search to be much more efficient.
  • In order to detect potential child abuse situations from videos and photographs, researchers from the University of Rhode Island have developed technology utilizing machine learning/vision. This technology can analyze media in real time for child abuse imagery. Even live video feeds and be processed. The technology makes it possible to analyze vast amounts of video and images in an unprecedented amount of time.

Research Strategy

The research team has utilized the most advanced research methodologies, such as generative AI-powered search, industry and research databases, and advanced web search techniques to facilitate our research. We leveraged the most reputable sources of information that were available in the public domain, including the National Institute of Justice, the American Bar Association, Flashback Data, Microsoft, and Thomson Reuters.

In order to locate information concerning data on eDiscovery usage rates across various legal specialties, key factors for use, and demand and pricing for eDiscovery services in general and for family law we first started looking at various organizations like the National Institute of Justice. Failing to find specific data points, we then turned to third-party resources and market reports which provided the bulk of the above information. Seeking to fill out the details, we also looked at specific providers of both eDiscovery services and software (like Microsoft and others). We utilized an older source (2015) which highlights an increase in the use of eDiscovery in divorce cases.

Next Steps

During the first hours we provided data points on how the use of eDiscovery in family law along with factors impacting or driving this use. You also indicated interest in exploring case studies of its use, and how it is being used in family law cases. Below, we’ve outlined various research avenues tailored to meet these specific interests.

Please scroll down to see the additional research options so that together, we can dive deeper.

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