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Archive for February, 2010

The third of a three-part post detailing Nextpoint’s approach to Craig Ball’s EDna challenge. Click here for Part I, Click here for Part II

Moving beyond the benchmark set in Craig Ball’s well-conceived challenge, we wanted to talk about some additional benefits our customers are seeing from using our technology.

Integrated Through Trial
First but not least, is seamless integration into the litigation specific functionality built into our Trial Cloud, recognized as one of the best options available for trial preparation.

At any point, EDna and Vincent could migrate their productions – along with those of opposing parties – and integrate the document data with a deposition transcript handler and trial presentation functionality. This creates a single search engine for their case and greatly increases their efficiency in finding key pieces of evidence.

Preserving the ability to vigorously litigate a case. Isn’t that what this all about in the first place? Please feel free to check out our product site and our support site for additional detail on the functionality of this industry-leading application.

Software-as-a-Service Is The Future
Of course there are the benefits of using software-as-a-service, versus legacy client/server and local install packages. It is a hugely significant shift in the technology landscape, and it is because the benefits that flow from this technology model are so compelling. Benefits such as:

Security. Real Security.
If EDna and Vincent are concerned about the protection of their data, they should take a lesson from the attorneys for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, whose offices were broken into, and laptops stolen. There is no substitute for having data in SAS70 Type II compliant data centers, and mythology of law firm security is being quickly eroded. Check out trust.nextpoint.com for additional information.

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plan Built In
EDna will save lots of money and Vincent will have one less thing to worry about as their data is automatically backed up with no additional effort or cost on their part. These kinds of mission-critical operational activities are often overlooked by small and mid-sized businesses who simply do not have the time or resources to do the planning, testing and monitoring required for effective disaster recovery and business continuity plans. Even large enterprises, who are (or should be) spending millions of dollars to have a robust business continuity plan in place realize the ability to tell their employees to find a safe location from which to log-on and get to work is the best possible continuity plan possible.

Scalability, on-demand
Nextpoint moved our products to the cloud for a very simple reason – we had to. There was no way we could build storage and processing capacity to keep up with our customers’ needs. For EDna, getting a substantial new matter shouldn’t require a substantial overhead investment before generating any revenue.

Cost
I’ve detailed in the previous two posts the tremendous cost compressions we’re bringing to the market. Software-as-a-service realizes the potential of the internet to compress the costs of managing and distributing information. We’re bringing an entirely new value proposition to small and mid-sized law firms.

Focus
EDna didn’t become a lawyer to wrestle with a PST. She is now freed from managing technology resources and coordinating vendors so she can concentrate her energy on what she loves doing – practicing law.

We’ve taken and met the EDna challenge. Any other takers?

A special thank you to Craig Ball for the great article and his generous contributions to the legal industry.

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The second of a three-part post detailing Nextpoint’s approach to Craig Ball’s EDna challenge. You can find Part I here and Part III here.

Step 1: Uploading the Files to Nextpoint’s Discovery Cloud
EDna has gotten the DVDs from her client, and she hands them to her tech savvy assistant (we’ll call him Vincent). Vincent logs in securely to his Nextpoint account. He selects which case he would like to load the files into.

Vincent then prepares the files to upload into the Discovery Cloud.

Uploading is a direct process for Vincent consisting of preparing the files, compressing the files, and uploading them in batches. Vincent knows the metadata from PST will populate directly into each record, and that for other productivity documents and file types, he can to prepare a CSV directing the Discovery Cloud on how he would like his metadata migrated.

In this case, he’s not going to take that step since he knows at any point there is always a link to the native, so the metadata is preserved and accessible at a moment’s notice.

Once he’s prepared his files, he compresses them into a zip, points his browser to the zip file, and clicks on the zip he’s like to upload.

(Vincent’s is intrigued because he hears Nextpoint secured data intake service will soon offer to upload his data for free with free shipping. Stay tuned!)

Step 2: Monitoring and Reporting on File Processing
EDna’s and Vincent’s job finishes uploading, and our Discovery Cloud processing servers automatically loaded the reviewable files into a robust review platform, with metadata preserved, images generated and a search index built. If available, text is automatically extracted. If already imaged, documents are automatically OCR’d at no extra charge.

The good news for Vincent is, as opposed to the good ole days of sending data “out” to a vendor, Vincent can get current information on how his job is processing and, most importantly for him, view and resolve errors that have been found.

error reporting

Super cool for Vincent is the ability to see the report of each and every file that has been processed, skipped, or found to have an error.

detail proccessing

Step 3: Reducing data volume through keyword/date restrictions and deduplication
Vincent resolves all of the errors – most were thumbs.db files or links to attachments that were not included in the natives – and it’s time to start reducing the volume of data to review.

First, Vincent uses Nextpoint’s handy deduplication request form to submit a request to deduplicate by custodian.

Once completed, it’s time to start culling the data using advanced search tools including proximity and boolean syntaxes, as well as the ability to date restrict.

Someone told EDna this was called Early Case Assessment (ECA), to which EDna said “well, what other kind of case assessment is there, a Late Case Assessment? And why the silly acronym, I guess that makes me a Lawyer With Clients (LWC).” What EDna does believe is the LWCs who can do ECAs quickly and at a minimum of cost will LOL as they take business away from those who cannot.

Step 4: Reviewing documents in the Discovery Cloud
EDna and Vincent can now define what shape their review will take by defining subreviews, issues, and custom fields on their own without needing to contact an outside vendor – a real time-saver.

Then they brew up a fresh pot of coffee, carve up the review, and get to work in an easy-to-use document review workspace, that preserves email threads, provides a link to the native, and stores the review history of the document.

review

One critical feature EDna knows she can’t live without is being able to review in full color. She knows a review of productivity documents in black and white is going to be missing critical metadata. Otherwise, how would she review PowerPoint or Excel sheets? Or know if a portion of an email may have been forwarded?

Other features they get include a review dashboard;, and tools to redact on the fly. And finally, let’s not forget the the ability to generate a privilege log, and bates stamp their production.

Step 5: It’s all about choice. Producing, downloading, or archiving reviews.

EDna and Vincent could decide that once their review is complete, they would like to store it in Nextpoint’s Preservation Cloud. For $1/GB per month, they now have the option of making the review active in the Discovery Cloud at any point down the road should the need arise.

But here’s the important part — they don’t have to. We believe part of democratizing e-discovery is the freedom to choose. Use your Nextpoint service when you need to, turn it off when you don’t and take your data with you.

We’ve provided a range of export options to choose from with pre-configured settings for a variety of different formats, whether that’s for production, for backup, or for long-term storage.

export

Vincent and EDna can even define their own export recipe and generate an unlimited number of downloads in variety of formats to fill any number of legal or business needs.

So what if EDna faces the need to exchange as EDRM XML? Save as CSV? Store as pdfs? Send to the technologically masochistic law firm still investing in Concordance? Generate a native export? Export all OCR and tags? All are options available, it’s their data after all.

Conclusion: Does Nextpoint meet the EDna Challenge?

There is doubt about it! Let’s look back at Craig’s goals, sharpen our pencils, and see how the numbers come out:

1. Preserve relevant metadata;

More than that, you can automatically populate the data into records for review with a minimum of effort. Or chose not to and download the native file, always available.

2. Incorporate de-duplication, as feasible;
Free at no charge, just drop us a line to do it by custodian or across the population. And stay tuned for user-facing deduplication/reduplication tools!

3. Support robust search of Outlook mail and productivity formats
You got it, we process for free wide variety of file types.

4. Allow for efficient workflow;
Check! A whole set of review specific functionality.

5. Enable rudimentary redaction;
Much more than basic image processing features, the Discovery Cloud also includes privilege log, bates and confidentiality stamp generation.

6. Run well on most late-model personal computers
Check, with a broadband connection and a recent version of Firefox, Safari or IE. Also, our technology will run seamlessly on Mac OS. Use your PC at work and your Mac at home with no issues.

7. Require no more than $1,000.00 in new software or hardware.
Not even close. For under $300, EDna and Vincent can get through their review, with plenty of headroom should they need more time. Let’s calculate costs using Nextpoint for the challenge.

Oh, by the way, another part of what makes us different is that we do publish our pricing.

6GBs prior to dedupe will be $150 for the first month at $25/GB monthly service fee, and following a dedupe, future months at an estimated 3 GBs would cost $75 per month.

If EDna and Vincent can finish their review (in color!) in 1 month, produce the data, and then move the data to be stored into our Preservation Cloud (at $1/GB per month), net cost after three years will be $255! ($150 the first month, $3 per month for 35 months)

Even keeping the review active for 12 months or doubling the amount of data can still bring us in under a $1000, including free processing and without any additional license fees, hardware, software, associated maintenance fees or additional outside vendor costs for final production. As we saw, there are host of image stamping and export options over and above the requirements above that will cut out additional expenses EDna would have inevitably faced.

What’s Next? The EDRM Presentation Step and Trial Practice
In the strum und drang of the litigation technology business, seemingly now obsessed with the vauge notion of Discovery, precious little attention has been paid to we can refer to as the Presentation Stage of the EDRM model. (fair disclosure, Nextpoint is a participant in EDRM)

Or is it trial practice? Motion practice, deposition preparation, expert discovery — the stuff of litigation. And what would EDna do should this matter have a life after the relevant documents have been produced? What if there is a an actual trial date?

This brings us to Part III. Nextpoint offers an on-demand service that will allow you to access data from complaint through trial. Yes, that’s right, we are talking about trials. Judges, juries, witnesses — the whole shebang.

Because part of what customers get with Nextpoint is a service that will never fire your data.

With that, on to Part III!

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At Nextpoint, we believe that democratizing eDiscovery is an important step in contributing to the fair administration of justice in our society. As of today, the challenges posed by eDiscovery are clearly an obstacle. We hear consistently from our customers about cases that have been settled with no regards to the merits of the case.

Here’s what the current President of the 7th Circuit Bar Association, well-known defense attorney Michael Monico, says about impact of eDiscovery.

“It was widely anticipated that the advance of electronic files would enhance the production and review of discovery materials, but it seems that the opposite has proven to be true. Instead, the search for electronic records has driven up the costs and burdens of civil discovery, and has inhibited even the most well-financed defense….”

It’s our mission at Nextpoint to change that.

In this three-part post, I will lay out in detail how we would approach Craig Ball’s EDna challenge. Part II will cover how we meet the goals he has laid out. Part III will show how we go beyond those goals to and how we are providing a truly new value proposition.

Using Nextpoint, Craig’s fictional client “EDna” can get all the functionality she will need to process, review and produce her native files — plus a whole lot more — for under $300.

As far as, assumptions, we are estimating 6 GBs prior to dedupe, and 3 GBs after, with a resulting 50,000 documents, “most” are emails. In the email populations we’ve processed we’re looking at about 1.2 pages on average per document. Other documents tend to average around 10 pages.

So Assuming 90% email… we can safely estimate:
54,000 email pages (45k * 1.2)
50,000 document pages (5k *10)
104,000 total pages

So the following scenario assumes 50,000 items will result in 3 GBs of post-processed, full-color images, indexes, and metadata, with no other licenses, hardware, software or vendors required.

Most importantly – besides just the dollars and cents – is the question of choice.

Exceptional technology serves to expand the options available to users, not limit their choices. Using Nextpoint means that EDna can select from a range of sensible options, enabling her to exercise her judgment as to the best decision for that particular matter as it evolves — and avoid being forced into the predictions business, with costly and painful ramifications for being wrong.

Let’s get to work and see exactly how this works! (Click here for Part II)

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