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Doing Digital Justice: How to choose the right eDiscovery solution and prepare your litigation team for real digital transformation

| Written by Altlaw
The legal sector has ignored digital best practices for too long. Now, most litigation teams need to adapt if they want to survive. Find out how to choose the right eDiscoverysolution and take the first step towards transforming your team for good.
What does ‘digital transformation’ really mean? And why does it matter?

Of all the leading buzz phrases that have rumbled through the meeting rooms and press releases of every professional sector, ‘digital transformation’ is one that has rung the loudest, and it is certainly showing no signs of fading out any time soon.

While the term is self-explanatory to a degree, for the complete avoidance of doubt, Salesforce kindly defined digital transformation as ‘the process of using digital technologies to create new — or modify existing — business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements’ going on to clarify that it is the ‘reimagining of business in the digital age.’

For any legal team, sound eDiscovery forms the bedrock of desirable digital transformation.

The legal state of play

Those of you reading this are likely all-too familiar with the rigid nature and pace of the legal profession, it will therefore come as no surprise that the industry as a whole has been shown to be lagging from a technological standpoint. This is not only in comparison to other sectors, but the general digital competencies of the public at large. According to Gartner, only 19% of in-house legal teams are well positioned to support enterprise digital efforts.

For those working on litigation support teams, this means that pressure is mounting in several directions – managers are not only finding themselves expected to know the ins and outs of complex eDiscovery tools and services, but are also being pressed to invest in one that delivers demonstrable results, fast. And as if that wasn’t enough, as other sectors have evolved and adapted to the new era of data-driven practices, the margin for error has been dramatically reduced.

So, there’s no time to waste. It’s time to learn how you can suss out the right eDiscovery solution for you and your team.

Choosing the right solution: your eDiscovery checklist

eDiscovery was founded to change the labour intensive nature of managing, storing and classifying legal documents. Unfortunately though, poor decision-making with regards to the right eDiscovery solution, provider, and even adoption process for your team can actively undo the very efficiencies you are looking to achieve.

We’ll go into each point in detail, but if you want to select an eDiscovery solution that will deliver the results you need, these are the key criteria you need to be looking for:-

  • The latest forensic data collection capabilities
  • Proven and trustworthy security credentials
  • Advanced integration and compatibility
  • Flexible managed services options
  • Round-the-clock technical support

The latest forensic data collection capabilities

If you’ve read our blog on the most common eDiscovery mistakes, you’ll know that the perceived neglect of ESI metadata and the overlooking of modern communication platforms as valid sources of evidence are two of the most easily avoidable forms of business risk for litigation teams.

Avoiding the losses of time, money and professional reputation that these mistakes can incur is significantly easier with an eDiscovery solution that boasts forensic data collection capabilities.

Once ESI is identified and located, it must be extracted in a way which preserves its metadata – this includes information such as who sent a given file, who accessed it last, the time a given communication was initially sent, and so on.

Lacklustre eDiscovery collection tools will generally lead to file format and conversion issues, which can alter or even delete file metadata during collection and sharing procedures.

An eDiscovery collection tool worth its salt on the other hand will be advanced enough to read and extract data from more modern communication formats, from temporary image sharing platforms to in-app messaging, and include metadata within a load file that preserves the native metadata when reviewed.

Other features which can dramatically streamline document review processes, and which you should look for in your ideal eDiscovery solution include AI-enhanced analysis, indexing and tagging, and automated redactions.

Proven and trustworthy security credentials

The right eDiscovery solution will always come with security credentials that are established, proven and trusted. It is vital that you assess security credentials before investing in any eDiscovery services.

The baseline certification to look for is the ISO 27001 as held by Altlaw – this is the international standard for any information security management system, designed to help organisations cost-effectively safeguard their own information security to global best practices.

The second step to assessing a secure eDiscovery solution is determining whether the provider has an offsite data centre. As well as both greater physical security and cybersecurity, this will give you the added benefit of greater operational speed and responsiveness.

Then, you must look into what ‘tier’ that data centre falls into. Data centre tiers are essentially a ranking of their annual output, which is determined by a given centre’s power levels, infrastructure, and precautionary backup measures.

Deciding which tier of data centre is appropriate for you however is about more than simply which is the most secure. Costs begin to rise exponentially for the use of Tier 3 and 4 data centres, so unless you can be certain that your organisation’s security needs and budget are large and complex enough to warrant a significantly higher upfront (and ongoing) investment, most litigation managers would be best suited to a Tier 2 solution.

Finally, for additional reassurance, if your desired eDiscovery provider has a centralised base, examine their physical premises. Any eDiscovery provider who takes their responsibility seriously will pay just as much due diligence to physical security as they do information security.

Advanced integration and compatibility

The best eDiscovery solution is one capable of cleanly and seamlessly integrating with a variety of litigation and enterprise systems. And, as mentioned above, it needs to be compatible with the latest emerging communications platforms and the explosion of data formats that they bring.

The right eDiscovery solution is one that facilitates a smooth and unified litigation workflow, while remaining intuitive and easy to pick up and use. Digital transformation in legal means putting an end to those “Frankensystems” – no more collections of documents spread across paper and digital homes, no more bolt-ons for a legacy operating system, no more loosely connected networks of generic tools and platforms shoehorned into an eDiscovery process.

Read more about the importance of technological maturity in eDiscovery here

Everything from enterprise content management and data asset management systems, to other leading eDiscovery tools should be consolidated into one workflow, with one interface. This will not only hugely boost your team’s efficiency and cost savings, but it will also provide greater protection against critical business risks.

Flexible managed services options

As was revealed in our piece on streamlining communications for improved eDiscovery practices, a lot of roadblocks on the path to optimal operational efficiency are caused by internal issues – whether that means faults in organisational culture are preventing proper system adoption, or dizzying workloads leaving those responsible for eDiscovery with nowhere near the capacity to perform to best practice.

The best eDiscovery solutions will come from a provider that include managed service options as part of their overall offering. After all, if you can’t trust that someone knows how best to use a given system, you can’t trust their sales pitch.

It is news to few that eDiscovery is one of the most costly aspects of litigation, but what many are too proud to realise is that carrying out eDiscovery in house to keep expenses low is in fact exposing them to risks and sanctions that spell far more financial damage.

Outsourcing certain aspects of eDiscovery such as document review, cloud hosting, or even hard copy scanning and photocopying can relieve pressure, keep your team focused, and help you feel assured rather than apprehensive about your eDiscovery.

Other things to be wary of: the right eDiscovery provider will provide pricing structures that are transparent and able to flex according to your individual needs. Anything else is cause for concern.

Round-the-clock technical support

Finally, the right eDiscovery solution must be delivered by a provider that offers ongoing, 24-hour technical support as part of any deal – even the most basic package.

Litigation is an unpredictable game in of itself, but throw vast amounts of data and technology into the mix and you’ve got the recipe for a perfect storm.

Now you know what makes the perfect eDiscovery solution, why not book a consultation with an Altlaw specialist today to discover how we can help your litigation team.