Archive for February, 2012

Cloud Computing For e-Discovery

Nextpoint Discovery Cloud takes e-discovery mobile.

A few years back when I would mention that Nextpoint’s products were “cloud-based” web applications, people would give me blank stares, or ask for further explanation.

Now as more and more people are adopting a greater understanding of the Cloud, it has become a popular buzzword in the legal technology space. (It certainly helps that companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft now have “Cloud” in their products’ names.) 

Similarly, when I lead demos and training sessions on Nextpoint’s technology,  another buzzword that people don’t truly understand is “mobile-enabled.” By that, I simply mean that they can access Cloud Preservation, Discovery Cloud, and Trial Cloud from their tablets or smart phones. This is a nice selling point of our software, but the ramifications of this didn’t hit home for me personally until a couple weeks ago.

I found myself in a day of meetings at various law firms while I had other work backed up in my queue.
I was working on producing a large set of documents for a client with specific parameters that I had dealt with in the past. So while my colleagues were helpful in covering for me while I was out, there were some nuances that I hadn’t explained to them that I needed to handle. Driving back 30 miles to the office in between meetings was not an option, and even though I could access the data from any computer with an Internet connection, I didn’t know where my nearest Wi-Fi connection might be. However, my iPhone is always connected, so I simply logged into Discovery Cloud, executed the searches I needed to run, Bates stamped the document, and kicked off a production export all from my iPhone. It didn’t hit me until later, while explaining to a co-worker, what a remarkable thing I had been able to do.

When we say our applications are cloud-based and mobile enabled, we’re not just throwing around buzzwords.  What is normally a process that must be undertaken by a high-priced vendor, with specialized software, I had done by myself.

Without a locally installed application.
Or even a computer.
From a phone.
Without needing to download an app.

Document production from an iPhone? Now that’s what I call mobility.


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Nextpoint began more than a decade ago as a litigation services company supporting a handful of loyal customers. Since that time, we’ve worked with hundreds of law firms and Fortune 100 companies in all kinds of high-stakes litigation. We know that preparing for trial is an unpredictable and difficult proposition for even the most experienced litigation teams, as seen in Google’s ongoing patent infringement suit with Oracle.

Through our years of trial work, Nextpoint’s professional services team has developed a complete but flexible model to assist with litigation of all different types. We’re sharing our program, which we call the Nextpoint Nine, to help anyone manage even the most complex matters. The Nextpoint Nine is the secret sauce that has allowed us to succeed, but we’re letting it out for anyone to adopt in the hopes that all of our customers can make the most effective use of our technology and services.

If you’re one of our trial services customers, or are using our Trial Cloud solution to manage your evidence on your own, follow these steps to move smoothly from production through trial.

1. Identification We believe strongly in identifying your trial data and exhibits early. This information is going to be a smaller subset of the data reviewed during discovery, plus any depositions, declarations, and any other data likely to be used as evidence. Trial Cloud customers who also use Discovery Cloud can take advantage of our fully integrated platform to easily move data from review to our trial platform.

If your team plans to take advantage of Nextpoint’s professional creative services, we will also discuss case themes and concepts during our initial identification meeting. Themes identified in this stage are developed by our creative team into a set of “Initial Concept” demonstratives, illustrations and animation for use during opening or closing statements or during witness examinations.


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Jason Velasco’s recent eDiscovery Journal column Does Anyone Still Think About Pricing in eDiscovery revives a topic close to our hearts, pricing in e-discovery. Velasco points out that with recent attention focused on topics like predictive coding, less attention is being paid to a more fundamental issue in litigation- the cost of discovery.

There are lots of reasons why e-discovery is expensive, but the main issue remains that parties don’t always know how much data is inside any data set collected for processing and review. Velasco talks about meeting with a vendor at the recent Legal Tech in New York promising transparent invoicing that protects against rising costs. Transparent pricing is something we’ve thought a lot about over the years as you can see from this post from 2009 and again from two years ago. In our experience, e-discovery costs are always somewhat unpredictable, but we think that by offering a single, low cost service for processing and review, there will be fewer surprises, no matter what kind of data is collected.

In fact, as data hosting costs continue to fall, the cost of e-discovery should become much less of a burden. In the recent Law Technology News article What Amazon’s S3 Price Drop Could Mean to Technology Vendors, Nextpoint CEO Rakesh Madhava talked about some of the ways vendors should be able to pass cost savings to legal technology customers. In fact, you can look forward to new pricing news coming soon from Nextpoint that will make your costs even more straightforward and predictable.

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Let’s face it- the reason why eDiscovery is still such a pernicious topic in the legal profession is the cost. Most of the other details about managing ESI in litigation are well understood. We know, for example, that almost all electronic data and metadata is discoverable. And thanks to the updated Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, there is a pretty clear road map for meeting with opposing counsel about ESI. But the area where battles over ESI invariably break out is still the cost.

This is nothing new. In fact, the first case that brought eDiscovery to most lawyers’ attention, the Zubulake case, was about cost sharing. As outlined in the recent Law.com article E-Discovery Cost Recovery in the Digital Age, cost shifting remains a thorny and problematic question. Interestingly to us, one of the most expensive issues involves production of evidence to other parties.

Production costs are incurred at many levels. For example, courts have almost invariably held that the costs of scanning documents and converting files to TIFF or PDF format for production, creating a production database, and collecting and storing ESI are all legitimate costs. And of course, the cost for hiring consultants and the associated software and hardware costs for managing production are also recoverable.

For example, in the a recent anti-trust matter In re Aspartame Antitrust Litig., 416 Fed. Appx. 208 (3d Cir.2011), you can see an itemized list of the costs in one fairly typical eDiscovery battle. In this matter, the court awarded one party $26,244 for “Production Processing Fees” and $1,200 for creating Concordance load files. These awards are just to cover the cost of creating load files allowing documents to be saved to a review platform and Concordance database. Another $2,050 was awarded just for capturing metadata fields and labeling files for production.

Those costs are often just the beginning of the production process, depending on how parties choose to manage the process. In this case, the parties were also awarded thousands of dollars in printing costs at .25 cents per page for photocopying, and several thousand dollars for creating DVD copies of data. These awards represent only portion of the total amounts requested, including more than $15,000 in costs associated with converting documents from the TIFF format to PDF, for which the court did not award payment.

The Aspartame suit was withdrawn before it could even progress very far. But you can see the parties had quickly incurred perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars related to production of data. As we outlined in our recent Discovery Cloud WIRE post, many of these costs are not truly necessary. With Discovery Cloud WIRE, data is produced once within one platform, and many of the expensive, cumbersome, and time-consuming tasks listed above are eliminated.

We believe that electronically stored information should remain stored electronically- that is, there is no need to produce to paper or disk when data is stored in our cloud-based platform. Now it can be produced to other parties with a click of a button. We have taken the first step in addressing the current compounding costs surrounding e-discovery, and are confident our Discovery Cloud WIRE is the first of it’s kind to mitigate the cost battles in eDiscovery.

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Last week, we wrote about the outdated, inefficient, and insecure methods that are still in use for production of evidence in litigation. It seems absurd to us that parties in litigation still deliver evidence to opposing counsel, judges, or other parties on a disk. With all of the attention paid to the collection, processing, and review of digital evidence, you’d think that someone would have come up with a secure, simple, and inexpensive method for production.

We also alluded to upcoming news that would shatter the old production paradigm. That news is Discovery Cloud WIRE (Web-services Infrastructure for Records Exchange), the first cloud-based production tool for delivering evidence in litigation. With our new WIRE feature, parties can now deliver a cloud-based data collection to judges, opposing counsel, experts, or any other parties in a secure, forensically sound platform.

Production is a not just a needlessly expensive  process, but one that adds significant time delays and risk to the transfer of relevant digital data to opposing counsel. There’s no reason why parties should have to rely on the physical delivery of disks transported by mail or courier to produce evidence. Each side is incurring costs for exporting, then importing, and ultimately exporting the same data set. With Nextpoint’s cloud-based WIRE production tool, data is produced once. Parties can choose to export the data to the platform of their choice, or simply use our Trial Cloud platform or technology.

WIRE lets users create a new Trial Cloud instance, or copy of a collection of evidence. Users simply click a button within the Discovery Cloud application, which creates a cloned copy of a chosen set of evidence. Users can invite the appropriate parties in litigation to access the new collection. This collection is stripped of all work product and contains only evidence they have reviewed and approved for production. The collection preserves all document metadata for review.

The receiving party will have access to the data collection for a limited time. During that period, they have full access to all of our reviewing tools. After that point, those parties can either become paying customers to retain access or export the data to another platform.

Nextpoint’s cloud-based platform is a game-changer that eliminates redundant costs and unnecessary steps. With just a few clicks data has been produced and is ready for review from the other side. It’s just that easy.

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Nextpoint understands as well as anyone that unless eDiscovery is affordable and manageable for small cases, our system of law will break. Tom O’Connor’s recent LTN article, “Pricing: The Small Case E-Discovery Dilemma,” revived Craig Ball’s 2010 EDna Challenge to see if a lawyer could successfully manage an e-discovery project for less than $1,000. We’d like to let Tom and others know that this is not a pipe dream- this is what Nextpoint does every day.

Two years ago, Nextpoint successfully responded to Craig’s EDna challenge, summarized here, here, and here. At the time, we demonstrated that the fictional “EDna” in Craig’s challenge could use Nextpoint to process, review and produce native files for under $300. Tom’s recent article was hopeful that affordable, full-featured solutions exist. However, the article failed to note that our Discovery Cloud service starts at $150 for 15 GB of data for up to 15 users. Compare this to Lexbe’s pricing model, which was included in the article, starting at $99 per gigabyte. You can see our pricing information for more detail.

But most importantly, our suite of products, Cloud Preservation, Discovery Cloud and Trial Cloud are infinitely scalable. This means any firm can manage any sized matter in one end-to-end eDiscovery and trial platform with our negotiable managed plans. And with our secure, cloud-based review platform, there is no software to buy or install, and no IT costs for users.

Democratizing eDiscovery is an important aspiration for our industry, and we want more lawyers to know that the solution does in fact exist.

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