What Have We Learned from 2021 and What Should We Expect from 2022?

Written by Doug Austin, Editor of eDiscovery Today

I’m probably known most for my prolific blogging and the fact that I publish a blog post (usually two, sometimes even three) each day on my primary blog eDiscovery Today. However, this will be the 47th blog post I’ve published for IPRO this year, so I’ve been rather prolific here too!

In addition to the posts where I have covered IPRO interviews, events and announcements on eDiscovery Today, I’ve written 53 IPRO themed posts this year (that’s without “double-counting” my eDiscovery Today coverage of my weekly IPRO posts!).

As this is my last post of the year on the IPRO blog, it seems appropriate to look back at the posts I’ve written here over this year, to look at trends and topics that I’ve covered and see what we’ve learned from 2021 to prepare for 2022 and beyond. With that in mind, here are four trends I covered this year and the impact I predict for next year:

In-Person Events Will Start to Make a Comeback

Early on in 2021, there was no question that events were going to be virtual, with events like Legalweek and ABA Techshow planned as virtual events from the start. Legalweek turned into Legalweek(year), with five virtual events during the year (I covered the March event here and here). As the year progressed, there were efforts to get back into in-person events with ILTACON 2021, which had the unfortunate timing of committing to an in-person event as the Delta variant of COVID-19 peaked, causing events like ARMA InfoCon 2021 to revert back to virtual, after initially planning an in-person event.

While at least the beginning of next year will still be somewhat unpredictable with the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus, it does appear that in-person events are making a determined effort to come back.

Legalweek 2022 is full speed ahead for in-person back in NYC (I just booked my ticket!) and it seems that many industry professionals are planning to attend at least one in-person event next year. While in-person events may not be fully back to pre-pandemic levels, I do feel that most people are ready to get back to attending at least some events in-person. Stay tuned.

Returning to Full In-Office and In-Person Court Proceedings is a Different Story

I discussed the trends toward returning to the office in this post, and what I hear from most people is a continuation of remote working. In fact, many people I’ve spoken with were already working a significant percentage of time from home before the pandemic, so the end of the pandemic won’t have a significant impact on what they were already doing. At best, some organizations seem to be moving back toward a hybrid of remote and in-office. This is likely true for virtual court proceedings as well. And while there are challenges with them, they certainly appear to be here to stay, especially for many Federal courts.

Changing Sources of ESI Will Continue to Force Workflows to Evolve

Saying that the variety of ESI sources will force evolution in eDiscovery workflows is like saying the sun will rise in the East! Data from collaboration apps like Slack, ephemeral messaging apps (there’s even a Sedona Conference Commentary on them), contextual messages and the move to the cloud leading to more hyperlinked files as “modern attachments” continues to force eDiscovery workflows to evolve. The only constant in eDiscovery is change. Of course, I could say the same thing every year, but the pace is accelerating more than ever.

The Stampede to the Left of the EDRM Will Also Accelerate

Just three weeks ago, I looked back at the “stampede” to the left of the EDRM model, from when Information Governance used to be just another small box in the EDRM model called “Information Management”, to the full Information Governance Reference Model (IGRM) being embedded within the EDRM model.

There is tremendous interest in the evolution of the IGRM model – so much so, EDRM extended the release date for IGRM 4.0 after receiving so many public comments about it. In addition, the push to address eDiscovery upstream and the trends toward early data assessment becoming in-place assessment are additional examples of where just how important the left of the EDRM has become to the eDiscovery life cycle. It has become clear that traditional eDiscovery workflows are no longer viable in the era of Big Data. Be at the front of the “stampede” or be trampled by it!


If you want to check out any of the IPRO blog posts that I wrote this year (or last year, for that matter), go to the IPRO Resources page and search for “doug austin” and you’ll get a list of them (plus a couple where a post of mine is referenced).

My last prediction is that I will once again be writing a weekly post for IPRO next year! I’m grateful to the IPRO team for giving me a forum on their blog to write about trends and best practices for all things eDiscovery and Information Governance! Happy Holidays and see you next year!

And for more educational topics from me related to eDiscovery, cybersecurity and data privacy, feel free to follow my blog, eDiscovery Today!