In today’s legal review process, the ability to quickly analyze data and gain insight into that data is what allows a law firm to differentiate itself and beat its opponents. However, in reality law firms are overwhelmed with the amount of data that must be searched, analyzed, and visualized before critical decisions can be made. Add to that the fact that client data is exponentially increasing and new technology is allowing the collection of almost any type of data, no matter the location or form, and you get massive amounts of data needing review.
The combination of these and many other factors are adding a great deal of complexity for both the IT department who is responsible for developing, deploying, and supporting legal review platforms, and for the growing number of users who need access to materials, but may lack the technical skills to use the older, more traditional solutions.
Many of the traditional legal review platforms were designed in the mid-80s as desktop technology that is seen as outdated today. Being from the 80s, these solutions are difficult to customize and it is nearly impossible to develop new features to keep up with today’s demands. As data sets increase, the demands for faster access and better tools increase, and these traditional solutions are starting to show their age by not being able to keep up anymore. Also, many of the traditional legal review platforms were designed for more specialized or technical users, making them very difficult for untrained reviewers to learn and use. Additionally, legal review today often requires sharing information with other legal professionals – who may be spread across the globe – as well as with people outside the law firm, including experts, clients, and consultants. Interacting with these people allows a collective wisdom to be applied to any situation. So modern legal review platforms need to be more collaborative and they must allow information sharing, which the older tools do not allow at all, or just not very well.
With more and more demands being put on legal professionals, many law firms are turning to cloud solutions to support their core business needs. So why the change? A cloud solution offers many benefits that can help law firms meet their changing needs. Using hosted cloud solutions, law firms can quickly deliver a legal review tool to any user who needs access to it. With no learning curve even the non-technical users can be productive in minutes. Even users who have never used legal review software before are usually familiar with email applications, performing web searches, and updating Facebook or Twitter accounts. Current hosted and online review platforms have a similar look and feel to these types of programs, so in most cases very little needs to be explained.
With installed solutions, law firms must select, configure, and install servers to support the tool, which is a model some law firms are more comfortable with because it allows them to keep total control over their data. However for those who would rather outsource, the cloud solution offers a model with no capital costs for servers, storage, and networking infrastructure. Also, operating costs are passed on to the provider. That means the provider is responsible for management, maintenance, upgrades, and electricity. The law firm only pays a subscription fee. New users need only a URL, username and password to gain access to a hosted solution.
Furthermore, cloud solutions offer rapid deployment and instant access to any upgrades installed by the provider. When any changes need to be made on a real-time basis, all of the work can be done on the hosted application, leaving the law firm free of any responsibilities.
Online – including externally and internally hosted solutions – also help legal professionals collaborate and share ideas when performing review and making decisions. Firms can easily include collaborators from outside the organization into the hosted platform without compromising their internal security. This is something that is complex and difficult to do with traditional, desktop-only review platforms. Such traditional solutions require the firm to establish user credentials within the organization, adding the outside user to application access privileges lists, and then working with IT to ensure the user could access the application from outside the corporate firewall. With a hosted solution, these problems go away.
And finally, hosted solutions are well suited to today’s highly mobile workforce. Legal professionals working remotely or at home can use their Wi-Fi-enabled laptops, 3G/4G smartphones, and tablets to get access to needed information at any time from any place.