CCBJ: Why should corporate legal teams consider an in-house e-discovery cloud solution? 

AJ Shankar: The corporate e-discovery landscape largely depends on outsourcing work to service providers and outside counsel. In the early days of e-discovery, legal professionals would routinely purchase managed seats for review from service providers because of the expertise and infrastructure required to collect, process and host data.

Though on-premises software used to dominate the market, the corporate e-discovery landscape now has many cloud players with a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, enabling more organizations to shift e-discovery operations in-house. There are now cloud-based solutions (which automatically process and spin up review instances) that have alleviated many past pain points with on-premises software.

Simply put, the cloud is the future of in-house e-discovery. Cloud-based solutions provide corporate legal teams unsurpassed efficiency, security, collaboration and perhaps most importantly, control over their litigation process. There are various reasons why corporate legal departments should consider bringing e-discovery in-house with a cloud solution.

One specific benefit is the efficiency gains from immediate access and availability to documents. Unlike on-premises solutions, teams can access documents without going through a VPN and are not susceptible to local network outages at the office. The cloud has a lot of redundancy, meaning a fallback within the architecture, that allows a business to continue as normal when there are disturbances in IT operations.

Additionally, shifting to a cloud-based in-house e-discovery solution allows users to control their data and litigation and reduce security risks in a way that would have been impossible just a few years ago. When leveraging a third-party vendor, organizations must first copy the data and then give it to the third party. By copying the data, it exists in multiple places and adds risks of exposure of sensitive information. As a result, the risk of a security breach is higher when an organization does not fully control the data. Data security and privacy are also increasingly regulated at both the state and federal levels, so demonstrating control over access to personal data is critical to ensuring compliance and avoiding penalties or litigation.

Cloud-based e-discovery solutions are also just a smarter way to work, offering dynamic collaboration between teams that not only saves time but results in higher quality work. This is especially pertinent given that more teams are working remotely, and there’s a greater need to collaborate while not in the same office.

When is the right time to invest in a cloud platform? 

The tipping point should come very early. In the past, many buyers purchased e-discovery software in a one-off fashion, waiting until an emergency forced them to buy the tools from a service provider they often needed at the last minute. However, this “one-off” approach typically leads to waste and inefficient processes. This can be a stressful situation, having to make decisions in short order about technology that the team could be using for months, if not years, for certain matters.

Shifting e-discovery in-house, or keeping as much in-house as possible, enables companies to handle matters immediately and with greater efficiency. Legal departments can create efficient processes by enabling re-use of work products, creating a team of institutional experts, and mitigating redundant, obsolete, and trivial data. If in-house corporate legal teams use a tool like Everlaw at the outset of even a preliminary investigation, they get immediate value. With the click of a button, you upload the data and immediately have a new matter up and running. And then, as the data and matter scale up, you can scale magnificently.

As you dive deep into the data, there may come a point where you say, “Look, I’ve got to engage with outside counsel.” Investing in a cloud platform from the outset will allow you to do that seamlessly. Your outside counsel can come into the system and immediately start collaborating with in-house counsel using everything they’ve learned as a starting point for their exploration. They can also communicate much more tightly with them as they go through their process. They all work together towards that common goal with minimum repetitive work but a maximum injection of your areas of expertise. The right time to invest in the cloud is early, not when you hit a threshold where you need to all of a sudden commit major resources.

How does investing in an e-discovery cloud solution change the working relationship with service providers? 

Bringing an e-discovery platform like Everlaw in-house doesn’t mean that your relationship with managed services or legal service providers needs to change. Service providers continue to be a valuable part of the technology + services equation in e-discovery because they can provide deep technical and subject matter expertise and the sophisticated project management support you need to get the most out of your e-discovery cloud platform. With Everlaw’s partners, they are the experts in managing and supporting the technology, so they can be a great channel to procure Everlaw combined with professional services. This, in turn, gives you much more flexibility in how you staff and support your legal operations.

What are the key things to consider when considering an investment in an e-discovery cloud solution? 

Speed, security, adaptability, and support should be at the forefront of any evaluation of e-discovery tools.

One of the benefits of a cloud solution is the efficiency you gain from being able to handle higher volumes and a greater variety of data types. Finding a platform that can give you that speed is key. With Everlaw, you can upload and start reviewing files in a matter of hours instead of days. We can handle up to 900,000 documents per hour, while simultaneously automating standard processing, such as error-handling, deduplication, deNISTING, OCR and imaging, as well as other helpful tools, like audio and video transcription and foreign language detection.

An e-discovery cloud platform will be storing sensitive data on your behalf, so you also want to consider a platform that has rigorous security measures to ensure your data is safeguarded. At Everlaw, data privacy and security are our highest priority. We have very robust certifications to ensure that your very sensitive data is fully protected. We’re SOC 2 Type 2 certified to ensure customer data is highly secure, available and private and ISO 27001 certified for secure data center management. And in the U.S., we’re FedRAMP authorized on AWS GovCloud (U.S.) for our government customers to demonstrate our continued commitment to security and compliance.

I’d also suggest considering a provider with excellent customer support to help your teams succeed as they manage time-sensitive matters, big or small. With a 97 percent CSAT score, Everlaw’s customer support team has a proven track record of providing superb customer service. You get unlimited support, onboarding assistance, and data migrations at no extra cost. This means our team is with you every step of the way to get you up and running within the first 30 days of onboarding and will continue to support and provide strategic guidance as your needs evolve. Additionally, users get free access to unlimited live and pre-recorded user training sessions, making it easy to get answers to every question as they come up.

Finally, finding a partner that prioritizes innovation is essential. In the last ten years alone, legal tech innovation has disrupted the practice of law, and legal professionals are trying to catch up. The pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home orders have also made things more difficult.

We take legal tech innovation seriously and commit to a four-week product release cycle to continuously improve our platform and release high-impact features that elegantly solve core discovery challenges. By doing this, we can give users access to a platform that can be malleable based on their needs, even if their matters are simple or incredibly complex. The importance of aligning with a partner who’s constantly innovating can’t be overstated. The last thing you want is a platform that works for your 2022 needs but suddenly isn’t scaling to meet your 2023 or 2024 needs.

Ultimately, making an early investment in an e-discovery cloud solution with unsurpassed speed, robust security, and rapid innovation is transformative for corporate legal teams. The outcome is higher quality work at a faster output, minimizing repetitive work and maximizing expertise where it’s needed.

About the author

AJ Shankar

AJ Shankar is the founder and CEO of Everlaw, a cloud-based e-discovery technology company based in Oakland, California. Prior to founding Everlaw, AJ graduated from Harvard with an AB in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science and received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

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