While the cloud has become commonplace in our everyday lives, many legal teams are still missing out on the benefits of cloud-based ediscovery software.
As of 2021, there is a 50/50 split between ediscovery solutions being on-premise or in the cloud, leaving a large portion of the market still not leveraging the notable benefits of cloud-based ediscovery software.
Despite initial skepticism from others in the legal tech field, Rakesh “Rocky” Madhava, Founder and CEO of Nextpoint, has always remained a firm believer in the potential of cloud technology. As one of the early pioneers of cloud-based solutions in the legal industry, Nextpoint blazed a trail for other legal tech companies to follow.
There’s ample data that reveals how cloud computing has become a dominant force in today’s digital world. Cloud-based collaboration tools have become increasingly popular – according to a report by Flexera, 58% of businesses now consider cloud technology to be a strategic asset, and 90% of organizations now use some form of cloud service.
Given the prevalence of cloud-centric technologies in our daily lives, it’s only natural for the legal profession to catch up and start utilizing cloud-based tools and services to improve efficiency, collaboration, and accessibility. With cloud technology, legal professionals can access important documents and files from anywhere, collaborate with colleagues and clients in real time, and streamline their workflows and manual processes.
You may be wondering: if the cloud is so great, why are so many legal professionals missing out?
Change is Difficult
The cloud, or more specifically “cloud computing,” refers to the process of accessing resources, software, and databases over the internet and outside the restrictions of local hardware.
There are various reasons as to why legal teams use on-prem ediscovery solutions (data security risks taking first place), and the ability to adapt to change is where many individuals may fall short.
Those who use on-prem solutions may think, “This is fine, there’s no need to make any changes,” to avoid workflow disruption from data migration, implementation, etc. However, limiting yourself to what is relatively “fine” may actually be holding you back from utilizing the many benefits of cloud-based ediscovery software.
The Importance of Cloud Security
Understanding the security requirements for keeping data safe has become essential as companies continue to migrate toward the cloud. Security threats have become more advanced as our digital landscape continues to evolve, and many of these threats explicitly target cloud computing providers. But protections against these threats have also become more robust – in fact, the cloud is generally more secure than on-premise technologies.
For legal teams, choosing a cloud provider with advanced security protocols is essential. Firms are also responsible for implementing their own safeguards against security threats, which includes using secure passwords, limiting account sharing, and only accessing data on private devices. It is imperative to prioritize best practices and cloud security solutions to ensure data protection regardless of the cloud environment your organization operates in – whether public, private, or hybrid.
Embracing the Cloud: 5 Advantages of Cloud-Based eDiscovery
1. Increased Scalability
Traditionally, on-premise solutions were the go-to choice for legal professionals, but… times are changing. The limitations of relying on locally installed software have become apparent, prompting many legal teams to shift toward the cloud. One of the most compelling advantages of the cloud is its unparalleled scalability.
Unlike on-premise solutions, the cloud can effortlessly handle varying caseloads and data sizes. Whether you’re dealing with a small caseload or an extensive document review, the cloud adapts and ensures optimal efficiency – no matter the data volume. On-premise solutions, on the other hand, depend on the processing power of the local servers they’re installed on, which are typically no match for the cloud. Furthermore, the cloud is constantly evolving to expand its processing capacity, while local servers rarely undergo this level of advancement.
The cloud’s lightning-speed processing power has revolutionized the way document review is conducted. In a Nextpoint case study, Hugh Berkson, Principal attorney at McCarthy Lebit Crystal Co., expressed his amazement at the speed in which documents were able to load in our cloud-based ediscovery software. “I think the thing that caught me by surprise is the speed with which documents will load when everything is online,” Hugh said.
2. Automatic Upgrades and Reliable Service
When it comes to software updates, the reliance on manual software can be a cumbersome and time-consuming process. For on-premises solutions, updates aren’t available unless an IT team or software provider does them manually. This process is needlessly complex, and it puts you at risk of using outdated software that’s no longer supported by the original software developers.
With a cloud-based solution, you can say goodbye to complicated manual updates and enjoy automatic upgrades without the need for an IT team. This not only saves valuable time and money, but also ensures that legal teams are always equipped with the latest features and security improvements.
In addition to the convenience of automatic upgrades, the cloud exhibits an unmatched level of reliability. The cloud’s reliance on a vast network of public servers creates a robust infrastructure that minimizes downtime. By embracing the cloud, legal teams can enjoy an uninterrupted workflow, maximizing efficiency and minimizing costly interruptions.
For example, in two years between 2015-2017, Amazon Web Services, the backbone of Nextpoint’s secure hosting infrastructure, experienced a total of only 7.5 hours of downtime (impressive, we know!).
3. Enhanced Security
Historically, security concerns have been a barrier to cloud adoption in the legal industry. However, many cloud providers have risen to the challenge, making significant investments in robust security controls and protocols, dispelling the doubt that once tainted this technology.
When it comes to on-premise, ensuring security becomes a daunting task for those not specialized in IT security. The valuable time and effort spent on securing internal systems often diverts attention away from core functions, limiting productivity. It’s unlikely that most legal organizations have an experienced IT team on-site, leaving them vulnerable to potential security threats.
A significant risk associated with on-premise data lies in their physical proximity to the enterprise itself, putting your network at risk of access by unauthorized users, particularly from inside threats.
In contrast, the cloud operates under strict security standards. Top public cloud providers like AWS protect their servers with physical defenses such as fences, guards, biometric devices, and security cameras. Nextpoint also enacts a number of digital protections including data encryption, controlled access, audit trails and two factor authentication.
Many cloud-based companies also undergo external audits – for instance, Nextpoint is proudly Soc II Compliant, which means that our auditing procedure ensures we securely manage data to protect the privacy of our clients.
4. Greater Remote Collaboration
In ediscovery, collaboration plays an important role in ensuring seamless document review and production, regardless of physical location. By centralizing ediscovery processes in the cloud, legal professionals can break free from the constraints of location dependent workflows.
Whether team members are located across different offices, cities, or even countries – the cloud serves as a unifying effort, fostering collaboration with ease. Documents can be accessed, reviewed, and discussed in real-time, eliminating the need for time-consuming tasks such as passing physical copies of documents or emailing updated versions of work product.
5. Cost Predictability
With the cloud, legal teams no longer have to bear the financial burden of purchasing and maintaining costly infrastructure. The cloud provider takes care of software AND hardware requirements. Legal organizations can then reallocate their funds for other important endeavors.
The cloud also eliminates the need to hire an in-house IT team, which can level the playing field for firms of all sizes and make ediscovery more accessible for smaller firms and organizations operating on limited budgets.
Some legal teams have found the per-Gigabyte pricing that many ediscovery software companies use prohibitive, as they may end up with exorbitant fees from a large dataset. However, Nextpoint introduced our per-user pricing model with unlimited data hosting in 2017 to combat these unaffordable expenses and provide equal access to the cloud for firms of all sizes. While some legal cloud providers’ fees widely vary, there are options for firms in search of more predictable ediscovery costs.
Changing Rules and Regulations
Parties involved in a case have a duty to maintain the integrity, confidentiality, and security of all potential evidence, and information stored in the cloud is subject to the same requirements. With that being said, there are key issues that should be addressed for organizations utilizing the cloud for ESI.
Where is ESI Located in the Cloud?
It’s crucial to know where your data is actually stored. Because cloud providers are expected to provide data at any given time, they may store your data in more than one data center due to repetition purposes.
Be attentive to which ediscovery providers stay up to date with evolving legal standards. Choosing the right provider will mitigate any risk of issues that may arise due to changing data privacy and security laws.
In 2022, Nextpoint launched new developments for legal software in Canada and California amidst recent changes to data privacy and security laws. Although the launch is limited to Canada and California, it has sufficiently prepared us to address restrictions that may emerge in new regions amidst rising concerns over data privacy.
Data security and privacy have always been a top priority here at Nextpoint, and the growing prevalence of consumer privacy laws is changing what this looks like in the ediscovery world. We remain committed to protecting our users’ data and helping them navigate the complexities of practicing law in a digital age.
eDiscovery and the Cloud Are Evolving Together
The proliferation of cloud storage solutions has allowed individuals to generate and retain vast amounts of data, much of which is now being incorporated into ediscovery processes and presents us with the huge caseloads that we often see today. However, the cloud’s high processing power can also offer a solution to these challenges.
Many individuals and organizations are now leveraging cloud-based storage solutions (like Dropbox, etc.), and legal tech companies are adapting and adding new features to accommodate these widespread platforms. In Nextpoint, you can now easily drop data from other cloud platforms into your ediscovery software rather than undergo a time-consuming and complicated collection process.
The cloud has both influenced ediscovery and been influenced by it. The emergence of stricter data privacy regulations means we’re seeing a shift toward greater transparency in data hosting locations. Will this be isolated to ediscovery, or will it permeate the rest of the cloud storage landscape? Only time will tell – but it’s clear that ediscovery and the cloud have become intertwined.
Data permeates every aspect of our lives and plays a pivotal role in litigation. In our constantly evolving digital environment, the cloud stands as the only solution capable of adapting to the dynamic nature of data. It provides the necessary infrastructure to handle vast amounts of information involved in legal proceedings and ensures integration with our evolving data-driven landscape.