Lawyers struggle to manage data as evidence in trial

New evidence suggests that many legal practitioners are unable to adequately analyse and manage the significant amount of digitally stored data which can be used as evidence in court cases.

Over 5000 lawyers responded to a survey carried out by security firm Symantec and the international contributors seemed to be in consensus with regards to experiencing problems when attempting to manage evidential data.

Fifty-one per cent of respondents over the past quarter said that they encountered difficulties when attempting to convert digital data ready for use in a trial. This is despite the fact that most recognise the importance of so-called digital evidence in court cases and that most experts believe there are already tools in place to ensure that data is handled correctly.

Ninety-eight per cent of those questioned, said that digital evidence turned up via the process of e-discovery, had allowed them to succeed in a case in which they had taken part between 2008 and 2010.

Nearly two thirds of respondents said that they were daunted by the sheer amount of data through which they would have to sift in the search for elusive yet powerful digital evidence. A quarter blamed ageing, inefficient search and data management systems, while almost a third said that e-discovery was too time consuming to be useful on a regular basis.

In order to fix these issues and solve the problems of handling digital evidence, 57 per cent of lawyers said that the technology that enables both data protection and subsequent retrieval needs to be augmented and modernised. A smaller number called for a change to international law that would make it easier to use digital evidence in the courts.

Symantec’s Jaap den Exter van den Brink said that backing up and storing data was now seen to be essential in the legal process. He said that lawyers no longer need to sift through piles of paper, but can access a whole world of data that is stored digitally, as long as the right tools are in place to make it easy to use in a lawful, swift manner.

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