Thursday July 7, 2022
The amount of data involved in legal cases is ever-expanding.
Where once gigabytes were considered a lot to handle, now terabytes are par for the course. To put that in perspective, a single terabyte is equal to around 6.5 million digital documents, such as PDFs or presentation decks, or 1,300 filing cabinets of paper – and is likely to span not just simple pages of text, but everything from text messages to voice recordings, and chat log records.
Clearly, analysing all of this material manually is an impossible task. eDiscovery – the process of using powerful software platforms to identify and extract information from within data banks to support cases – is now standard practice to help shoulder the load.
However, managing huge amounts of data submitted for eDiscovery is still a highly complex and time-consuming task. And not all eDiscovery systems are created equal.
Cloud technology offers a new, even more powerful way for firms to carry out eDiscovery processes. Here’s how.
When it comes to current eDiscovery capabilities, it is not uncommon for firms to take an on-premises approach, with a siloed in-house system that lives within the organisation’s IT environment and requires dedicated resources to just maintain it. This is before any specialists can be brought in to work in the environment.
But on-premises eDiscovery solutions often don’t have the scalability to analyse the larger data sets we now see efficiently and reliably. Indeed, it might take weeks to prepare the environment and the platform for a terabyte-sized project before the eDiscovery team can even start work. Firms might also need to juggle data over multiple internal systems – often a cumbersome, inefficient process that introduces the risk of error.
Cloud technology is powering up the possibilities of eDiscovery, helping firms to tackle these issues head-on – meaning they can amplify the processing power of eDiscovery platforms in a secure, scalable way, focusing their review and uncovering insights in short order.
Time saving is its first key advantage. Cutting-edge, cloud-based solutions can collect, compile and normalise data from many of the sources we now see in a way that doesn’t need any additional input – doing the heavy lifting for legal teams, so that all they need to do is effectively ‘push a button’ to kick the analysis itself off. The technology also works consistently, without error, reducing the risk of mistakes.
Within the cloud, eDiscovery solutions can also integrate with other software solutions – delivering powerful synergies and unlocking capabilities that may not have previously been possible in on-premises solutions.
For example, law firms dealing with documents in many different languages would require a dedicated translation partner to interpret the information before review can even begin. But with a cloud-based eDiscovery solution, automated translation tools do this ‘on the fly’ for as many different languages as required, all within the cloud environment – meaning far faster results.
Through the cloud, firms can automate actions such as redactions – using advanced artificial intelligence technology to deliver a more consistent outcome, faster, while also reducing the number of ‘eyes on’ what could be sensitive information.
And they can greatly speed-up the construction of ‘correspondence timelines’. This involves automatically collecting correspondence from multiple different channels, such as email or Microsoft Teams messages, and ‘mapping’ them to each other – for example, identifying where an individual may have emailed someone, followed-up with a chat message, and then picked the conversation back up on email.
Doing this through an on-premises solution can involve a large degree of time-consuming manual work, and mean using multiple different techniques and tools. But through the cloud, it can all be done much faster, automatically, and in one place.
Taken together, along with the many other benefits and features that cloud-based eDiscovery brings, these capabilities break the linear connection between the size of project and the time and resource needed to deliver it.
No longer does a project twice as big need to take twice as long, or require twice the overhead commitment. Ultimately, it means that not only are tasks completed faster, for less, but that the outcome of eDiscovery processes is more predictable. This means costs can be more accurately forecast, supporting the profitability of each project.
Of course, in the legal profession, data security is non-negotiable.
The cloud’s very nature means putting data into an intangible outlet, and it is understandable that a key reservation from many firms considering cloud eDiscovery solutions is the risk of data sitting outside their control.
This concern has been recognised by cloud solution providers, who have invested heavily in security measures to ensure that data is safeguarded at all stages of the process – protecting not only clients’ information, but also firms’ reputations. Every step has been taken to deliver secure systems that meet firms’ own exacting standards.
Lawyers will be familiar with cloud technology in their day-to-day lives, and may already have it within their firm – whether for data storage, or file sharing. Applying it to eDiscovery processes is the next frontier.
Implemented well, this technology will deliver huge efficiencies and powerful processing capabilities that free-up their time to focus on the complex elements of the law that machines and AI simply can’t do.