The legal landscape is changing. While many of the practices adopted at the height of lockdown simply made the best of a bad situation, there has been an irreversible move towards greater flexibility across all sectors. Even in the legal space – which has historically been slower to adapt than other industries – there is compelling data to show that attitudes in workforces, from specialist firms to general counsel, have undergone a significant change.
Changing Attitudes in Legal:
According to research from Thomson Reuters published earlier this year – which surveyed close to 2,500 UK legal professionals – 63% of lawyers would prefer to work hours of their choosing, compared to just 22% who felt this way before 2020. The same report found that across all responses, those surveyed wanted to spend an average of 2.1 days per week working from home. Before lockdown measures were implemented, this average was around 0.5 days.
So it would appear that, against the odds, flexibility is here to stay for the legal sector. Or at least those that recognise the benefits it has to offer in terms of productivity, quality of work and employee wellbeing. But what does this mean for eDiscovery?
To achieve such flexibility while working on an eDiscovery project, having the right technology is vital. But the benefits of these technologies go much further than flexibility itself.
Read on to find out which technologies can make your eDiscovery operations faster, more flexible and farther reaching than before.
Cloud eDiscovery for “Anytime, Anywhere” Flexibility:
Buzz phrases like “agile” or “flexible working" get thrown around to such a degree that it’s easy to forget what they actually mean in real terms.
At the most basic level, flexibility in eDiscovery means being able to conduct litigation processes as normal, without being tied to a particular place of work, specific in-house systems or facilities, and or rigid working hours. In short, it means the freedom to work at any time, from any location, on any device.
Cloud-based eDiscovery platforms like RelativityOne are already making these aspirations a working reality.
Cloud eDiscovery allows review teams to securely access case data from anywhere in the world. Altlaw provides highly prescribed work-from-home protocols for all people working on a case to ensure that people working on the case from home are not compromising security with their work environment or processes. This may include a checklist of do's and don'ts and a check of any hardware being used to ensure that appropriate threat detection software is installed and up to date. So long as the security criteria are met and the user has an internet connection, they can verify their identity and log into their eDiscovery portal from their device of choice – whether it’s a laptop, tablet or mobile phone, from their location of choice - home or office.
This can provide phenomenal benefits for teams, namely in the form of speeding up projects and opening up new efficiencies.
International teams can collaborate more seamlessly than ever before, and teams can overcome common operational roadblocks that hinder their progress. Need sign off from a senior member of counsel who is out of the office? Now they can quickly offer their opinion on that email of interest while on the move – no servers needed.
Automation Allows Teams To “Do More With Less”:
Another way to achieve the same outputs without access to in-house systems and facilities is by using automation and sophisticated AI.
Continuous Active Learning (or CAL) is one such eDiscovery solution that enables this.
In layman’s terms, CAL helps reviewers to quickly locate and review the most relevant documents in your case-load. It also continuously learns from your coding decisions, meaning the more documents you code, the more it understands which kind of documents are relevant to your case.
Essentially, you can apply decisions that have already been made to new documents on a large scale, which allows you to do more with less.
By letting you review large document batches with significantly fewer resources, CAL not only helps eDiscovery teams to significantly cut the typical time and cost of review but also allows review processes to be conducted more flexibly. For example, with the support of CAL, large document batches can be handled by much smaller teams, or even by teams that are dispersed across separate locations.
You can trust us on this one, as we have first-hand experience of doing so.
During the height of lockdown, our London team had to complete a large project with a pressing deadline. All while collaborating remotely, and without the option of scaling up operations with a large review team. See how we used Active Learning to overcome this challenge!
Flexibility vs Security:
There is one key consideration you must keep in mind when aspiring to achieve more flexible working practices. And that consideration is this: ensure your flexibility doesn’t come at the cost of your security.
Nowhere is this more vital than in the legal sector. Any vulnerability around your case can risk compromising private and confidential information and presents a very real and very significant business risk.
Reviewers must be conscious of this so that they can account for any changes to their operating models with adequate security measures, ensuring that the security of case documents, personal client information, and other critical data and assets remains intact.
For cloud-powered eDiscovery platforms, a key feature to look for is data encryption. At Altlaw we use both end-to-end encryption and two-factor authentication on each of our working instances to ensure the security of your data. Within Relativity, there are also further security features such as the 'Lockbox' which prevents support services such as AWS or Relativity staff from being able to access your data whilst maintaining the platform.
Hands-on support is essential too, so if you are working with a third-party eDiscovery provider, or are investing in cloud-based eDiscovery yourself, we highly recommend you opt for a solution that comes with robust 24-hour technical support.
For insight into how Altlaw handles high-security cases - take a look at our 'Sensitive and Secure' case study. You can also learn more about the many lines of defence the relativity platform possesses here.