This article is the first part of a trilogy focusing on how technology can help with document review prior to eDiscovery processes, more effective virtual collaboration and safeguarding sensitive information and PII.
Many lawyers spend a large portion of their time on administrative tasks like tracking the status of various cases, bridging information gaps, looking for information, securing facts, following up, document reviewing prior to eDiscovery, and building structures to be able to handle different matters and (sensitive) information more easily. Most of these tasks are done in collaboration with others and require the right set of (legal tech) tools.
Finding and Retaining Data As companies use more software tools, information is spreading more widely and becoming more difficult to find. Lawyers are overwhelmed with information that is stored in different systems, to the point that one customer told us: “In this day and age, it is crazy that I have to remember how I received a data point to figure out where it is stored.”
Knowledge is also walking out the door, whether to home offices or into other companies as employees move on to their next opportunity. There has never been a more important time to have knowledge accessible, whether it is to onboard a new employee that you can’t meet in person or to access prior learnings and best practices.
This is where the concept of Search (also known as Enterprise Search) can help. By indexing all the data sources that you would like to make searchable, you can offer your workers a place where they can find and access all that data from a single interface.
So, the need to remember how you received a file, where you stored the information, and having to search different repositories could be something of the past.
Besides the clear benefits of time saved and therefore increased efficiency, one should also consider that when you find something in one repository, you might stop looking and miss the actual best piece of information you are looking for in another. Missing a key piece of additional information can be costly, particularly in litigation, due diligence, or cyber breach.
Search is what one could call a ‘vanilla use case’ and it can be applied to any type of organisation. Search platforms are ‘living organisms’ that crawl your data repositories continuously and update the index in real-time. This means that all of your data is in one place without having to move a single file and once you have unified (aggregated) all information within a company, it opens many use cases beyond searching for a document. More on this below and in Part 2 and Part 3.
Act on data Your teams are collaborating on a shared data set. Document review is occurring within Word and information is stored in Excel. One customer half-jokingly said that the work of a lawyer is to copy-paste all day! This process is cumbersome and likely not very efficient and/or inspiring.
Enabling collaboration between team members across different platforms and using different tools can be challenging. Working from a single interface that combines the various steps in a workflow, so that all the work can be done online within one tool, rather than shifting between multiple applications, can be a clever way to make collaboration easier.
The goal is to entirely remove copy-paste and once a team has reviewed a document collection, the output can be exported to, for example, a spreadsheet.
Tags Bundling documents based on relevancy, specific case, best practice, or learning is a simple example of making data sets visible and easy to access. Especially in situations where document collections need to be triaged or reduced, setting one or more tags on a document helps you to signal what might be important and what might not. These tags can then be used to search, sort, or export a collection by the team.
Notes and Annotations When you are reviewing documents, you most likely want to add some notes and highlight important parts of the document without making changes to the source document. This makes it easier to share with a team member, keep track of important information, plot details chronologically in a timeline and/or export them. In addition, it is a great way to highlight learnings!
Timelines Building a chronology of events is relevant in litigation, but also when tracking and assessing risk or managing any project-based work as single documents are often part of a chain spreading several documents.
Chronologies allow documents and the data within to be presented in an organised fashion, and most importantly they act as organisational memory. Keeping track of sensitive data from the source document, together with the notes and annotations and being able to present this in a single chronological view has the potential to save you time and smoothen your workflow.
• How much time do you spend looking for information in different repositories to fill the information gaps on a particular matter or litigation? Do you feel that you are wasting time on the quest of finding the right information?
• What has the feedback been of your team when it comes to the tools that affect their ability to work together online? Do they feel that they can access and work on the information they need? Why?