Managing E-Discovery in 2018

November 8, 2017

The big question for 2018 is whether your firm has taken advantage of cloud-based e-discovery tools. That’s because cloud productivity tools have integrated with e-discovery platforms to improve law firm workflows. This post looks at the future of e-discovery and how the Internet has taken research to a completely different level.

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On-Premise E-Discovery — Yesterday’s Architecture

Cloud technology has been the great equalizer for smaller law firms seeking access to the tools that enterprise-level lawyers have been using for years. Smaller firms use software-as-a-service (SaaS) for a variety of tools, from client billing to email. In some cases, solo practices and small law firms were able to take advantage of the benefits of cloud-driven e-discovery firms even before the big firms did. Big Law Business pointed out:

Some law firms feel that having a hosted solution on-site is more practical than a cloud-based solution. This is no longer true. There are now dozens of different-discovery platforms available to a firm that is interested in migrating to a cloud-based solution, with a variety of emerging players challenging the dominance of the current market leaders.

Some of the benefits of cloud e-discovery firms are the same as for any type of SaaS provider – they are less expensive options when compared to establishing and maintaining on-site hardware and software. On-premise architectures create a higher cost of hardware and software as well as the staffing infrastructure needed to maintain it. Finding, hiring, and maintaining the credentialed teams to handle on-premise equipment is increasingly difficult; the demand for qualified IT teams is at an all-time high in every market in the U.S.

Over the last decade, big law firms have invested big money in these on-site operations. Today, these architectures are certainly less flexible than their cloud counterparts; One Discovery points out that most law firms have gradually been phasing out their on-premise server rooms while adopting hybrid models that incorporate tools like cloud-based e-discovery into their existing hardware frameworks.

The ABA Journal suggests some of the other benefits of cloud-based e-discovery as follows:

  • The software is constantly updated to include updates to the data you’re researching along with upgrades to security features. Because these updates occur in the cloud or during off-hours, you typically will not experience any downtime while they occur. Should you adopt e-discovery in-house, this may or may not be the case.
  • The user experience is typically updated more frequently in the cloud. You won’t have to wait for an on-premise update to the best practice features in the software. Cloud software is characterized by ease of use and making e-discovery platforms in the cloud more flexible in the adoption of the latest best practices.
  • Cloud e-discovery is also elastic, meaning it is able to scale to the demands of an increased workload. The demands of increased litigation or regulatory demands can necessitate costly hardware upgrades if your e-discovery platform is housed on-site. A cloud e-discovery platform can handle the increased demands that could strain an in-house IT team. Justifying an expensive hardware upgrade based on intermittent changes in workload simply doesn’t make sense. One of the best benefits of any cloud solution is that it can flex to accommodate upticks or downturns in data storage and processing.
  • The ROI is better both from a logistical and ease-of-use perspective, along with cost savings. Your IT team, if you have one, will be able to focus on other things and let the cloud e-discovery firm take care of updates and security.

Since we mentioned the “S” word – let’s take a moment and address head-on, the biggest concern we still hear from law firms. Is cloud-SaaS as safe as having hardware and software located in the confines of my law firm?

Are Security Concerns a Specious Argument?

One Discovery

Law firms still cite internet security as one of their chief concerns with online e-discovery providers. Considering that even on-premise discovery software applications typically require some sort of internet connection, this point, while not moot, certainly holds less weight. Whether your operating system is on-premise or in the cloud, it is vulnerable to breaches. The trick to maintaining security is to make certain:

  • Your network is being monitored for intrusion
  • There is a mitigation policy in place to silo hackers should an intrusion occur
  • Your operating systems are up-to-date with the latest security upgrades
  • Backups of all of your data, including email correspondence, are occurring regularly

In fact, we would suggest, with this criterion in mind, that most on-premise hardware and software are less secure than cloud-solutions. Most law firms do not have security teams as part of their IT infrastructures. Cloud providers like Microsoft and Amazon have the most up-to-date and robust security features – and we guarantee your firm is simply less prepared to handle the constant barrage of threats experienced today. E-discovery cloud providers usually staff a Chief Information Security Officer, along with a dedicated staff and budget for security. Their mission is to not only facilitate research but to protect your data in the cloud. We recommend studying their level of encryption, access controls, geography, and other cybersecurity controls before selecting an e-discovery provider.

Should Your Law Firm Embrace the Cloud?

A recent Forbes article stated that worldwide spending on cloud services would increase to $141 billion in 2019, up from $70 billion in 2015. This statistic shows that all industries have embraced cloud technology, which is now deemed “mature” after a decade of use.

Whether your law firm will embrace the clear benefits of e-discovery in the cloud, or determining if a hybrid model of on-premise and cloud IT adoption is best is a process that TOSS C3 can help you determine. We can help your law firm stay secure while taking advantage of all the benefits the cloud has to offer. Contact us to find out more.

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