This month, the Coalition of Technology Resources for Lawyers (“CTRL”) released the results of its survey regarding the use of analytics by corporate legal departments. Data analytics is the use of specialized data systems or software that uncovers patterns in data that can aid in a company’s decision-making and reduce costs. According to the survey, in-house counsel are increasingly using data analytics for a variety of tasks and nearly all surveyed agreed that data analytics will play a crucial role in the future in the services they provide to their companies. Ninety-nine percent of practitioners surveyed by CTRL agreed that data analytics “will be very important, will be considered indispensable, and use will be widespread.”
The rules governing discovery of electronically stored information, though not fully developed, have matured enough to provide the basic “do’s and don’ts” for attorneys. Frequently, a party must produce electronic documents, such as Word documents, in their native format, rather than producing paper copies, in response to discovery requests; this obligation includes producing the document’s metadata, the data automatically embedded in an electronic file that contain information about the document, such as its origin and history of revisions. But what are a lawyer’s responsibilities concerning the transmission or receipt of metadata outside of the discovery context? A recent ethics opinion from the State Bar of Texas offers some guidance—and a stern warning: attorneys risk violating state rules of professional conduct if they mishandle metadata.