Archive for February, 2009

Cloud: More important than the PC? | Tech News on ZDNet

An interesting note that the conversation about cloud has now moved to a when question not an if.

Given Microsoft has released Windows Azure, a cloud product on par with Vista, Server and Mobile it shouldn’t be surprising.  Given traffic to Amazon’s servers from their cloud products exceed their e-commerce traffic it shouldn’t be surprising.

But the “fortress” keepers in corporate and legal IT departments continue to have their head in the sand. The “behind my firewall” approach is already an ananchronism.

The technology implications were obvious – there is no way to manage the tsunami of ESI barreling down the pipeline.

But now the economic implications are accelerating that timeline.  This article says that the public sector is going to go cloud within the next 18 months!  Mostly because it’s already happening, users on their own are utilizing web based applications.

Today’s technology models in the legal industry are fundamentally flawed. The public sector seems to get it, the venture capital industry gets it, and the major technology companies get it, how long will it take legal industry to figure it out?

Hopefully not as long as it took to figure out the PC (I remember lawyers having their secretaries respond to their emails for them because they didn’t type).

At least it won’t take as long if we have a say in it.  We turns the cloud into a utility, like electricity, that lets lawyers get back to being lawyers.

Because of this, we eliminate the schism between IT and the core value of lawyers in corporations and law firms,which is providing smart, sensible legal counsel, not processing, managing or hosting electronic data.

Leave that stuff for the cloud.


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The evidence of the need for innovation in every segment of the legal industry keeps rolling in.  Today’s bit is from the NYT in this article, An Effort to Upgrade a Court Archive System to Free and Easy – NYTimes.com

Here’s the quote from the article:

“Americans have grown accustomed to finding just about anything they want online fast, and free. But for those searching for federal court decisions, briefs and other legal papers, there is no Google.”

Ironically, its not just publicly available data that’s hard to get.  For the lawyers litigating the case, it’s difficult to get off of their own systems, if they even have a system.

And while no one expects to be able to have litigation support software for free (yet), without question it should be fast. But that’s simply not the situation. Most lawyers – no matter how large the company or the firm – are in the same situation. Unable to get command of their documents, pleadings and transcripts in their cases quickly and with a minimum of fuss. Check out this survey from Lexis Nexis.

We’ve believe search is more than just the central tool to any evidence management platform, it’s the most relevant paradigm for managing the data.  It seems obvious — but search is the new model of navigating data – away from the folder categorizations you see in local desktop systems, on older web-based applications, or the human indexing which was all the rage when Yahoo was the leading internet “portal”. (Haven’t used that word in about six years!)

Keyword searching – optimized relentlessly by tweaking algorithms – has won in the consumer space, and will continue to propagate into business uses.  For public information, this article talks about insurgent technologists looking to co-opt Google to further government tranparency.  To me, the irony here is that while the courts shut off the servers – Google didn’t!

Scalable, cloud based technology like Google means that for absolutely free, people were able to throw millions of pages to get crawled without a hitch. I’d be shocked actually if anyone at Google even noticed, while the old government model was literally ground to halt while managing a fraction of the data.  A prime example of where old tech meets new.

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Two critical ideas I found in this article from the NLJ, Legal Technology – Information Age Saps Jurors’ Attention.

First is the idea of boiling the case down do a single idea.  I know we’re working hard with customers to do this on every case, but its literally impossible to overestimate the importance of having a theme and a logical narrative that is easy for juror’s to understand, especially in cases we’re working on that can go on for months!

Second is the following quote:

“Science supports the common sense conclusion that multimedia evidence makes a presentation more memorable.”

We know this is true and there is literally unquestioned scientific data supporting it.  The implications are important.

Lawyers have an obligation to prepare demonstrative evidence to explain their case — to do any less is to deny their client the fullest representation possible.  I’ll stop short of calling it malpractice as I’m no legal ethicist, but I will say that our experience there is a direct correlation between the time spent in preparation and reherseal time, and the quality of the advocacy in the courtroom.  Big suprise, right?  The harder you try, the more you practice, the better the end the product.

Second, is once you’ve identified it’s critical to prepare electronically stored information for presentation, then it becomes critical to have complete command of that electronic evidence!  You can’t prepare what you don’t have.  This is why it’s so important to get started earlier in the process – whether the case is going to trial or not.

Managing the ESI correctly early in the litigation process saves significant expense on a variety of fronts: lost time from not being able to find data, expense involved in multiple converstions between platforms, and duplicative work done by mulitple offices or law firms.

Most importantly, it preserves your ability to litigate effectively without needing to euphamistically “reinvest” in preparing the data.  Get electronic evidence ready early in the process – prior to production – and your courtroom presentation will benefit.

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Interesting article from Wall Street & Technology concerning the impact of the cloud on regulatory data for financial companies. Cloud Computing Gives E-Discovery a Lift by Wall Street & Technology

Nextpoint deploys substantial cloud technologies within our platform.  It’s a feature, something we do on the back end that our customers are interested in, but its not the reason they buy.  They buy because we offer the same type of cost compressions and performance increases. It’s really simple and understandable.  We can scale rapidly to offer additional storage and processing without any infrastructure costs and lower total cost of ownership.

The same concerns highlighted in this article about regulatory processes are essentially the same ones our customers are looking to address with subpoenas and second requests.  Our customers benefit from being able to deploy turnkey, searchable, organized processing, review and analysis platform that shows a cooperative posture.

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To borrow a phrase I heard from the President, my gut reaction from LegalTech in thinking about my conversations with our customers is that a yawning chasm is developing between companies, such as Verizon, that have thought-leaders driving their electronic discovery efforts, and are major influences in the development of technologies in the marketplace, and those who aren’t.  It’s a spectacular difference, and seemingly companies are in one camp or another camp – super prepared and ready to rock for the most part, or completely with their head in the sand about setting up processes and technology to be ready to produce electronically. There seem to be few “partial adopters”.

This blog post and related survey from Recommind begin to survey the ugly numbers about where these companies are.

IT & Legal: Can’t We All Just Get Along? – Information Management Blog – InformationWeek

The next wave this data tsuanmi will overrun is the ability of outside counsel to manage the huge increases in data volumes coming from their clients in the coming months and years.  Outside counsel and inside counsel are woefully underprepared.

Again, this is literally an inevitability, the technology infrastructure set up to manage paper-based litigation is crumbling quickly with no respite in sight, including shrinking budgets and staff cuts in companies and law firms.

It’s time to get proactive and incremental – to get out of the cycle of shock and trance.  To do nothing is to invite huge problems that will be substantially more expensive to solve if incremental action isn’t taken today.  To invest in an entire infrastructure today is not financially feasible, nor desireable the technology and innovation is coming too fast.  Woes to the company locked into high fees for a document review platform.

This is where real value is generated, between denial and perfection, between shock and trance.  It’s a very difficult environment to get clarity in – even for those of us with years of experience in it. That’s why I think the coming technology trends are going to be focused on a values-driven model of technology evaluation, and away from a features evaluation.  More on that later.

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