Initially, law firms and legal departments were entirely dependent on wholesale outsourcing to meet eDiscovery requirements. Providers evolved their delivery models from the purely transactional, to managed services including Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and most recently, Cloud-based services.
Law firms and legal departments evolved as well: gaining experience, expertise, and knowhow. Thus commenced a constant, often cyclical, push and pull between insourcing and outsourcing. The central hurdle for insourcing is always resource constraints. The cost in time, money, and human resources is considerable: software licensing fees; infrastructure buildout and maintenance; acquisition and ongoing training of specialists to name just a few. Importantly, many of the costs are fixed and the infrastructure has scalability limits: two major confounding variables in managing eDiscovery.
Many mid- and small-sized organizations cannot entertain the cost of moving eDiscovery in-house. For those organizations that can, many have settled on a bifurcated approach: Manage matters that scale to owned resources internally. Outsource those that do not. This dichotomy can be resolved. And in doing so dramatically decrease the resource burden of in-house while more effectively and efficiently integrating outsourcing when required.
Advances in technology and their proven efficacy in cloud-based delivery models enables insourcing without the heretofore extensive resource commitments. And it provides scalability and improved extensibility when needed. When delivered as an on-demand service, it allows firms to manage eDiscovery from collection and processing through data analytics and document review to production without the many fixed costs of owned infrastructure. Not only does this not decrease quality, forensic soundness or defensibility: it improves them.
Beyond these factors, there are four key reasons to consider the on-demand model. The benefits accrue to large and small organizations alike.
1. Anywhere, Anytime Availability
As a cloud-based platform, on-demand solutions are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Organizations have complete access to the services they need anywhere an internet connection is available. Additionally, there is no reliance on VPN or Citrix connections that can potentially create connectivity issues or slow down processes.
Combine this anytime/anywhere capability with the ability to create custom workflow templates standardized eDiscovery process around the globe can be affected. This allows a team to work-from-home or in geographically dispersed locations effectively and efficiently.
Ultimately, eDiscovery workflow and tasks are streamlined and in line with industry best practices. This is particularly effective if:
• Establishing a VPN connection is a challenge, which happens frequently during remote and work-from-home scenarios
• Team members work remotely
• International work
2. Enhanced Security
Web-based service providers like AWS or Microsoft® Azure™ deploy state-of-the-art security. Users can even pick the location of servers to manage for local data privacy laws as well as help ensure General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance and other challenges associated with removing data from their locality.
Legal technology solutions leverage the cloud for this enhanced security and compliance capabilities. In a secured cloud, data uploaded into the system is automatically encrypted and we insist on two-factor authentication as an additional security control.
This is important when:
• More secured means of data storage is needed
• Cross-border investigations or dispute management is necessary
• Managing jurisdictional data privacy compliance
• Providing third-party access (e.g., plaintiff, access to production sets for download)
3. Alerts and Status Updates
With a web-based application, users receive notifications as projects move through the automated production workflow. And, with the powerful new analysis and review functionality, they can interact with and filter documents for greater insight and efficiency. This is especially helpful as the automated notifications allow users to focus on other tasks without having to divert attention to proactively check on status (or forget to). There’s no need to “babysit the data:” simply log on once the alert has been received.
This is particularly effective for teams who:
• Work collaboratively with many people
• Are managing many projects concurrently
• Receive large “data dumps” from clients
• Want to improve project efficiency and productivity
4. Data Analysis and Review Functionality
On-demand technology deployed in the cloud provides the ability to perform data analysis and review within the platform.
This is highly valuable if there’s a need to:
• Quickly obtain high-level information about the data to aid decision making
• Avoid moving data between multiple platforms, which is highly inefficient and creates opportunity for error
• Automate low-value tasks
• Find a tool that can simplify the analysis and review process, and is easier to follow, which reduces error (and speeds training of new users)
On-demand eDiscovery leveraging the cloud brings substantial benefits to legal departments and law firms of all sizes. It is the logical next step in the evolution of eDiscovery management, risk mitigation, cost reduction, and business value. It allows (even resource constrained) organizations to consider taking the work in-house, outsource, or choose some combination of both.
At an execution level it improves scalability and extensibility, helps ensure maximum security, aids in compliance with data privacy regulations, and simplifies the entire eDiscovery process.