eDiscovery Lessons From 2020 That Your Law Firm Shouldn't Ignore

10 October 2021 by Anith eDiscovery

Takeaway: The pandemic taught us that our eDiscovery software must (1) Have a remote data collection tool, (2) Support a range of file types, (3) Be low maintenance, (4) Offer built-in data security, (5) Work on slow internet connections, (6) Provide helpful collaboration tools.

The pandemic impacted law firms in many ways. But most importantly, it forced everyone to re-examine their eDiscovery systems.

When your workforce has to work remotely, you learn a lot about the weaknesses in your eDiscovery systems. For example, how do you share data and keep it safe? How does your team stay up-to-date with a case’s progress? Who handles technical issues that pop up? And how do you deal with poor internet connections? These are the sorts of things that law firms were forced to grapple with in 2020. So, what have we learned from the experience?

1. Law firms need a way to collect Cloud data remotely.

Many law firms rely on sending physical devices (like thumb drives) with files stored on them. Others wait for clients to gather and share requested files. Instead, we need a way to collect data directly from its source. And often, the source is the Cloud (i.e., a global network of private computer servers), with files scattered across services like Gmail, Yahoo!, Google Drive, OneDrive, and more. Thankfully, many eDiscovery services offer easy-to-use remote data collection tools where clients can authorize you to collect files directly from their Cloud accounts. This way, you can collect the responsive documents you need – even during a lockdown.

2. Your eDiscovery software needs to be able to handle a range of file types.

As people worked from home, they began creating new sources of data. For example, there was an uptick in business messages sent via Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and so on. We can’t predict the next popular data type, but we can choose to invest in eDiscovery software that handles a wide range of file formats. How does this work? Well, on Windows operating systems, the software checks file extensions and metadata. And on non-Windows systems, it’ll check the file’s MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension) to figure out the file type. (Learn more about identifying file types.) The thing is that some eDiscovery applications use algorithms that can ruin your data. If they come across an unsupported file type, they’ll try (and fail) to extract its data, leaving you with half-processed files that you won’t know about till it’s too late. Instead, you need software that handles all popular file types and flags unsupported files instead of trying to process them.

3. Your software needs to be low maintenance, with good tech support.

It’s hard to resolve technical problems when your team is scattered across cities or the world. And this can cause a lot of downtime in the middle of a busy workweek. That’s why it’s worth finding software that is intuitive and has features you’re already familiar with. For example, the best applications let you log in via your web browser (like you do with email), search for keywords (like you do with Google), store your data (like you do with Dropbox), and so on. More importantly, your eDiscovery service should have well-trained customer support teams with quick turnaround times.

4. Your software should offer built-in data security.

When your team isn’t physically at your firm, how do you control who has access to what data? With Cloud eDiscovery software, your data is stored on highly secure servers with advanced digital encryption. Plus, the best eDiscovery providers offer multi-factor authentication (MFA) – which means you’ll need to verify your identity in more than one way. (E.g., You’ll need a password as well as an authentication code sent as an SMS or generated on a secure app like Google Authenticator). Learn how eDiscovery applications set up MFA. The best eDiscovery services also let you control user permissions. So, you can decide who gets to see what. For example, you’ll be able to allow some people to access files but not edit them, while others can edit files but not delete them, and so on.

5. Your software should load quickly and work even on low-bandwidth internet connections.

When people work remotely, they can’t guarantee stable connections and high-performance computers. So, it’s worth finding software that’s light enough to work even over slow internet connections and backup laptops. The fix here is for your provider to cut out unnecessary eDiscovery features. For example, some applications use Technology-Assisted Reviews (TAR) to help speed up eDiscovery. The software ‘observes’ you as you tag some of your documents and spots patterns in your choices. It will then use the same logic to tag your remaining files in minutes. TAR might speed up reviews, but only for larger firms with hundreds of gigabytes of data. Instead, disaster-proof your eDiscovery systems by finding software that prioritizes the few key features that matter to smaller law firms. This way, it will load easily enough to survive low-bandwidth internet connections.

6. You’ll need the right set of collaboration tools.

A decentralized team needs a well-designed suite of collaboration tools. For example, you’ll need a virtual ‘notes’ tool, so everyone can jot down important thoughts and attach them to relevant documents. You’ll also need an ‘annotations’ tool so that team members can leave more targeted insights next to particular paragraphs. And you’ll want a ‘comments’ feature so that your team can reply to each other’s notes and annotations without having to switch to email.

Fortunately, the latest Cloud eDiscovery applications are pandemic-ready.

At GoldFynch, we designed our eDiscovery service to be Cloud-based, which means it’s ideal for attorneys working remotely. But it also has other perks:

  • It costs just $25 a month for a 3 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. With GoldFynch, you know what you’re paying for exactly – its pricing is simple and readily available on the website.
  • It’s easy to budget for. GoldFynch charges only for storage (processing is free). So, choose from a range of plans (3 GB to 150+ GB) and know up-front how much you’ll be paying. You can upload and cull as much data as you want, as long as you stay below your storage limit. And even if you do cross the limit, you can upgrade your plan with just a few clicks. Also, billing is prorated – so you’ll pay only for the time you spend on any given plan. With legacy software, pricing is much less predictable.
  • It takes just minutes to get going. GoldFynch runs in the Cloud, so you use it through your web browser (Google Chrome recommended). No installation. No sales calls or emails. Plus, you get a free trial case (0.5 GB of data and a processing cap of 1 GB), without adding a credit card.
  • It’s simple to use. Many eDiscovery applications take hours to master. GoldFynch takes minutes. It handles a lot of complex processing in the background, but what you see is minimal and intuitive. Just drag-and-drop your files into GoldFynch, and you’re good to go. Plus, you get prompt and reliable tech support.
  • Access it from anywhere, and 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the Cloud.

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