eDiscovery providers are increasingly putting clients’ data in the cloud. I went to see Simon Price, UK Managing Director of Recommind, an OpenText company, to ask him to summarise the benefits of cloud adoption for clients and their lawyers.
Simon Price laid emphasis on the control and oversight which you get when all your projects are consolidated in a single repository which is exclusive to the client. Whether the client manages its own cases or has a managed services agreement with its provider, consolidation allows true business intelligence both about individual cases and about the entire portfolio of cases.
Recommind offers a subscription-based charge so that clients pay a flat amount, getting all the available functionality for a predictable cost. One of the key points emphasised by Simon Price is that there is no longer any cost penalty for using predictive coding and other advanced analytics tools.
The other benefit of a subscription model is that you can easily change the capacity under review without worrying about the cost of putting the data in. You might start with a very high volume of collected data and quickly use the advanced analytical tools to reduce the volume, something which is probably unaffordable if you deal with matters on a case-by-case basis.
Among the benefits of this is that relatively modest cases can be put into the system where previously this was cost-effective only for the largest cases. Another benefit is that it becomes possible to load in the data, make a very quick assessment of the merits and costs of the case, and get out again quickly.
The ability to apply analytic tools to the full dataset raises an interesting point about the interrelationship between keywords and analytics tools. Instead of rushing to cull data aggressively with keywords right at the outset (as is often done simply to reduce volume-based charges), the lawyers can take a more considered approach to the relationship between keyword culling and analytics.
It is not just the end-client who benefits from this. Law firms now have the ability to pass costs onto the client in a way that fits the matter and the client relationship – the law firm might have one basis for charging regular clients with a steady flow of work, and another when it wishes to entice new clients or win a bigger share of an existing clients’ business.
Simon Price also addresses the question of data security, another reservation which some clients seem to have. There is a perception that data in the cloud is somehow less secure than that which is held behind the firewall. Given that so much other business data is held in the cloud as a routine matter, it is hard to see why different considerations apply to eDiscovery data. In fact, the security provided by Amazon Web Services exceeds that which many clients can provide for themselves or which is given by a law firm.
As Simon Price observes, data sits in a private cloud with a set geographical location. It is encrypted and the encryption keys are given to the client, providing a level of security which is hard to provide under the traditional data centre model. With security questions increasingly forming part of RFPs, this becomes a significant factor in winning business.
In summary, putting eDiscovery data into a cloud environment as described by Simon Price in this interview brings multiple benefits, particularly on a subscription-based model. You get more control and transparency, flexibility as to the volumes under review, price certainty, the potential for a more considered approach to the culling and searching strategy and, not least, early information about the content of datasets which feeds into the strategy and the tactics of managing the case.