The day-to-day for modern legal professionals has changed dramatically, and the legal industry has had no choice but to adapt in order to keep serving their clients’ needs during this period of radical change. Luckily, the appropriate cloud-based technology to address these issues is now widely available and is being put to good use.
Legal professionals are leveraging cloud-based solutions to do everything from expediting the review process and enhancing remote collaboration to creating more efficient workflows, lowering litigation costs, and more. Over the past year, we have seen a significant shift in the legal landscape and how legal services are delivered.
More than ever before, legal professionals are leveraging ediscovery technology for scenarios before litigation is anticipated and beyond. Cloud solutions were previously considered optional for legal organizations. However, the past couple of years have proven that the cloud is an obligatory part of any growing organization.
How Are Legal Teams Utilizing Cloud-Based Ediscovery in 2022?
Legal work has begun to pick up as law offices, companies, and government entities have started to recover from the initial shock of the global pandemic. With a renewed sense of back-to-business mentality, here are some key ediscovery trends we saw over the past year.
Ediscovery Beyond (and Before) Litigation
The scope of ediscovery technology has expanded dramatically. Applications of ediscovery software are broadening as legal professionals across all industries begin to realize that ediscovery software can solve problems in areas well beyond litigation. At the same time, the importance of automated and collaborative pre- and post-review processes are coming to the forefront as technologies provide solutions that move further left and right on the EDRM, such as early case assessment, case narrative drafting, deposition preparation, and trial presentation tools.
Professionals no longer need a Frankenstein-type solution where every step in the EDRM requires a different piece of software or separate solution. Instead, they are looking for ways to have fewer solutions that manage more aspects of legal work.
Emphasizing Early Case Assessment
There’s a huge and unmet need for simple and low-cost ways to reduce data volumes at the onset of a matter. Motivated by the immense growth in global data size (with 79 zettabytes of data created, captured, copied, and consumed in 2021) and the inevitable trickle-down into review volumes, Everlaw launched Early Case Assessment (ECA) in the spring of 2021. Everlaw ECA allows users to run searches across their data, view documents (texts, images, natives, and metadata included), and promote the data that is most relevant to their matter for a more thorough review.
In its first year of launch, over 300 ECA projects were created, and 22 million documents were promoted from an ECA project to an Active Review (regular) project, exemplifying that many legal organizations need a lower-cost environment to prioritize the documents that are relevant to the matter for review.
Streamlining and Simplifying Legal Holds
Legal holds don’t have to be cumbersome. In a recent Everlaw poll, 77% of respondents still use manual processes, like spreadsheets and emails, to send and track legal holds. And here’s the thing — compliance with a legal hold is critical to avoiding court sanctions and fines mandated by law. Having an automated solution in place makes this process quick, efficient, and most importantly, defensible.
In 2021, Everlaw released Legal Holds, a solution that integrates directly into the rest of the Everlaw platform with no additional cost. It streamlines the process of tracking notifications and custodian acknowledgments. With Everlaw Legal Holds, your team is one user-friendly integration away from a legal hold process that is simple, secure, scalable, and defensible.
Alternate Applications of Cloud Ediscovery
Cloud ediscovery is not just for litigation. Any organization can use solutions like Everlaw to hunt down information, secure sensitive files, and collaborate on urgent, data-intensive matters. Depending on the matter at hand, some teams might leverage predictive coding across all their projects, while others might run a few searches, redact a couple of documents, and be good to go.
1. Responding To Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests and Public Requests
With features like powerful search, automated redactions, and shareable document productions, responding to records requests are made much simpler. Over the last eight years, the U.S. Department of Justice has fielded more than 70,000 FOIA requests each year. Passing top-level security certifications (like FedRAMP and SOC 2 Type 2) encourages government agencies to move away from on-premises to ediscovery cloud solutions not just for litigation but for public records work as well.
2. Conducting Internal Investigations Swiftly and Securely
As matters become more complex and more frequent, corporate legal teams increasingly leverage ediscovery software for internal investigations and risk management. With tight deadlines, resource constraints, and a wider variety of relevant file types like Slack and O365, corporate internal investigations require features like easy-to-use cloud connectors, APIs, and automated legal holds.
3. Investigative Journalism
Sifting through thousands of documents efficiently can’t be done without ediscovery software. Everlaw offers innovative ediscovery resources to qualified nonprofits, law school clinics, and journalists by eliminating the cost barrier. Through the Everlaw for Good program, over 1,500 journalists, students, and nonprofit employees have had access to Everlaw. Indeed, journalists make up more than a quarter of all Everlaw for Good participants, including organizations like The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Are you interested in learning more about recent ediscovery trends and predictions for 2022? Download a free copy of “Lighting the Way: 2021 Ediscovery Trends & Everlaw’s 2022 Predictions” to learn more!