In the months leading up to the amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the legal community acted as if it were Armageddon.
"When the rules were passed there was this Y2K aura about them," says Mark Yacano, principal at Wright Robinson Osthimer & Tatum and head of the firm's support and information practice group. "The reality is that the rule changes have had a minimal effect in a large swatch of cases."
In fact, throughout 2007 e-discovery wasn't a factor in many cases, Yacano says. Further, even in disputes between corporate entities that relied on e-discovery, the impact of the rule changes was minimal. That's because both parties must shoulder the burden and costs of e-discovery, creating an incentive to have rational and reasonable meet-and-confer sessions.
Yet new rules have had a huge impact on mass tort and product liability suits. "There's a lot less rationality in this area because the plaintiffs' bar benefits from expensive discovery," he says. "They have a lot less to lose than the corporate defendants they're up against."
Aside from plaintiffs' attorneys, e-discovery vendors also have benefited from the rule changes. According to the 2007 annual Socha-Gelbmann Electronic Discovery Survey, total revenue for e-discovery vendors was nearly $2 billion, up 51 percent from 2005, and the survey projects this number will double by 2009.