Archive for March, 2012

This week is the opening of the 2012 American Bar Association TECHSHOW, the premier legal technology event for small and medium-sized law firms. If you’re attending the event, stop by to meet with Nextpoint. We’re not promising any crazy tchotchkes, but we guarantee anyone interested in social media archiving, trial presentation software, trial support services, and eDiscovery software will learn something useful. You can also follow us on Twitter at @Nextpoint for our take on the most interesting presentations and news from the event.

Most importantly, Nextpoint is the sponsor for the Cloud Computing track of the 2012 ABA TECHSHOW, offering topics including,“How to Stay Safe in the Cloud” and an overview of cloud computing applications and services for lawyers.

The Cloud Computing sessions begin on Friday, March 30 at 8:00 am in the Expo Hall. If you’ve never heard Nextpoint CEO Rakesh Madhava speak, you can catch his presentation “Cloud Computing for Lawyers” on Thursday, March 29 at 3 p.m.

The conference will take place at the Chicago Hilton & Towers on March 29-31, 2012. Visitors can also meet our team in person at booth #813 in the Southwest hall for a demonstration of Nextpoint’s cloud-based, end-to-end litigation technology platform. Hope to see you there!


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Law Technology News recently featured a great article by technology editor Sean Doherty called “Bring Your Own Device to the Law Firm,  identifying a set of principles Cardinal Health uses to allow users to work on their own devices. These are guidelines every law firm, corporate legal department, and government office can use to devise a policy today that addresses the inevitable consumerization of IT, a development we’ve been talking about for almost four years.
Consumer Devices in Law Firms
First, why is this happening?
  • Users are demanding it as they stampede to smartphones and tablets.
  • The cost savings are enormous. Cardinal estimates $8 million in savings. Now we’re talking.
  • The gains in employee productivity are enormous.
  • The gains in security are also enormous as the signs are everywhere that existing security perimeters – especially in law firms – are porous at best.

Based on the Cardinal Health model, I’m going to layout how Nextpoint services meet the good design principles they used to custom build a solution.

If you’re an organization the size of Cardinal Health, this becomes a priority in your revenue generating businesses. But my sense from talking to our clients – both in-house counsel and also technology departments at law firms – is that it was going to be a difficult road to get funding for a custom built solution.

In other words, time to go to the cloud!

Downloading and saving data on the devices is prohibited

Laptops with privileged content on them probably represent the single greatest security threat.  And I have heard anecdotally from dozens of lawyers about a computer lost at an airport or lost by a shipper that was never recovered.

A substantial amount of development has gone into making our platform purely cloud-based. There is no controller, no need to save data locally to look at a document or spreadsheet. Does it require some additional storage – yes, we image every file on intake. But this means our clients have the security of knowing that the data is not brought local unless it absolutely has to be. This design also has the added bonus of working on any type of device your user brings into the organization.


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Here in the Nextpoint Evidence Room we analyze, interpret, intake and process litigation databases of all sizes, shapes and levels of complexity. This evidence originates from various trial prep platforms and a number of litigation technology vendors who construct their databases with varying methods, formats, and levels of consistency.  To paraphrase Forrest Gump, “a database is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”  We’ve spent years developing our toolbox in order to achieve the most efficient data preparation possible.

Nextpoint Litigation Support

At first blush, building a complex database may seem like a daunting task, which makes the Nextpoint Evidence Room such a valuable resource for our customers. While many of our customers utilize our services, a growing number of folks are preparing their own data and building databases themselves. This is a testament to the simplicity of the Nextpoint platform which allows users robust capabilities in an easy to use interface. Nevertheless, you might feel intimidated becoming a “self-serve” customer, so here are some tips to empower you.

First, you need to get closely acquainted with your data set.  Elements like folder structure, file names, file types, accompanying data files, any patterns and/or inconsistencies will allow you to draw a mental picture of how you want that data to work for you as a finished product in Discovery Cloud or Trial Cloud.


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Listen, we’ve got nothing against IT people. Some of our best friends are in IT. But let’s face it, your IT team can’t be on top of everything. So why do we expect them to keep mission critical systems up and running as well as figuring out why the printer keeps jamming? According to the article, “IT Skills Gap Study Says Most IT Departments Aren’t Keeping Up with Tech,” 93 percent of employers say there is a gap between their IT staff’s knowledge and what they need to know.

When technologists talk about cloud computing, they usually focus on benefits like scalability and security. But one of the most important advantages is simply that moving applications to the cloud takes an enormous load off your IT staff. For example, with Nextpoint, Amazon Web Services (AWS) handles the networking, security, and load balancing issues for you. You never have to worry if the latest server software is installed on your systems, if the latest security patch is installed, or if you have enough hardware to handle your evidence and data sets. And of course, Nextpoint’s programmers make sure you have the most up-to-date litigation technology available.

And of course, this is all assuming your office even has an IT department. According to the most recent ABA Legal Technology Survey, 33 percent of law firms report that their office has no technical support staff at all. When managing your critical data and trial evidence, we offer the most advanced networking, accessibility, mobility, an features and functionality without ever asking your IT guy to do anything. Now maybe he can finally figure out why fax machine is always running out of ink.

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A critical, strategic mistake I see law firms and corporate law departments make on a regular basis is to reinvest in technology that isn’t future proof. It’s not that firms aren’t spending on technology – it is just spent poorly. That’s a direct result of the propensity to continue to reinvest in legacy technology systems far after it’s clear they are no longer viable. Part of this has been the extraordinary capital investment involved in migrating platforms – a problem we can address via cloud computing. Part of it is just plain old organizational inertia.

It is a really good way to get nowhere fast. Lots of money will be spent, but still no really effective solution. It’s continuing down a path of patchwork contraptions with software ‘integrations’ costing millions of dollars, working briefly, and then breaking under the explosion in data volume.

The most telling trend is that there is still no support for Apple in the legal community. According to the most recent ABA Legal Technology survey, just 7.7 percent of firms use Apple systems. So what gives? After all, it’s official, the iPad is not just outselling every other tablet — it’s outselling every individual PC maker.

The iPad Is Outselling Every Single PC

So looking at this number, legal technologists have an important decision facing them.

Can I continue to spend on technology that does not support multiple platforms? How long will my users put up with not being able to do their work on the Apple (or Android) products they love?


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Your S3 Folder and You

In the recent Law Technology News article What Amazon’s S3 Price Drop Could Mean to Technology Vendors, Nextpoint CEO Rakesh Madhava talked about how the new pricing for Amazon S3 (aka Simple Storage Service) online web storage service can benefit our customers. But we think it’s important to talk about not just how inexpensive it is to use the S3 folder in Trial Cloud and Discovery Cloud, but also how effective and powerful this technology can be.

Your S3 Folder lives in your Nextpoint case, fully secured to provide access only to you and (with your permission) Nextpoint technicians. By using your S3 Folder, you can also transfer your files if you are utilizing Nextpoint Evidence Room services, eliminating the need to ship disks, drives, or use File Transfer Protocol (FTP).

We know as well as anyone that litigation data and trial evidence can be enormously cumbersome and needs to be handled appropriately. The launch of S3 Folders last year brought a more convenient process of importing large sets of data to Trial Cloud and Discovery Cloud. For our customers, the obvious benefit of this ability is to upload data today, without having to store/backup the data on your own internal system or shipping data on disks. But there are other, less obvious ways S3 folders make life better.

Because of the limitations of bandwidth, big files used to have to be broken up or compressed to send to the cloud. Previously, the only way customers could upload multiple files themselves into Nextpoint was to compress them into a zip file, and upload through a web browser. This works fine, but breaking or compressing files adds time around uploading. Now, you can simply send even your largest files to the case folder, notify us, then we can process. That means mailbox files, depositions, transcripts, and even complete video depositions are easily and quickly uploaded to our platform with no file manipulation necessary.

For example, one client recently sent us a 7 GB PST file, which we uploaded in one action. Without S3, data of that size would have been very cumbersome to get into the cloud.

Video files are a special problem for any system. In the past, uploading large video files would mean loading several large files through a web browser instead of one, single transfer, which is a laborious and time-consuming process. With the S3 folder, we can send the original, full sized files straight from their source location to the S3 case folder. Then, it’s as simple as clicking “import from case folder” and the videos process at drastically faster rates in their native format.

Once video files are uploaded to your Trial Cloud database, you can take advantage of another great Nextpoint feature – streaming deposition video. You can securely playback or browse any deponent’s deposition video through a web browser, including on a mobile device like an iPad. For more information about using S3 floders, please visit the Nextpoint Support Site.

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An incredible series of reports in the last few weeks have exposed the mythology of law firm data security, driving home the truth we have referred to as “The On-Premise Problem.”

First, an article from Bloomberg quotes the the FBI notifying law firms that they are “easier quarry” than corporations.

Second is this shocking – and I mean shocking – post from Forbes.com “Conversations on Cybersecurity” in which senior partners of a firm who had been hacked admit to a security consultant that they had no intention of notifying clients whose data had been stolen.

The partner is quoted as saying:

“Are you crazy? Can you think of a better way to destroy their trust in us than letting them know we had lost every document they gave us under (attorney-client) privilege?”

Wow.  Breathtaking.

Finally, this article from LTN’s Evan Koblentz in which a Hacker Points to Weakness in LexisNexis Concordance, the software that is installed in over 90 percent of the AmLaw200 firms. (Big shout out to LTN for the integrity to publish it).

The lawyers I talk to willingly accept technology that is inefficient and difficult to use because they think that it’s at least safe. At the same time, they dismiss cloud-based solutions that are more secure, infinitely more scalable, and many times more accessible because they think somehow it’s less secure. But that is just not the truth.

Security is complicated subject, but the bottom line is that the right cloud provider offers levels of protection no local installation can hope to match. There are numerous bright line security standards – SAS70 Type II, PCI DSS and FISMA to name a few – that have been outlined extensively in this blog. (Check out the Security category here on Frank for an extensive discussion). These are security certifications that no law firm can hope to match.

These articles should puncture the illusion that a law firm can secure its data on a local network. The final straw man argument against the cloud – that on-premise software solutions can somehow protect your data better – has been exposed. Unfortunately, the argument has only resulted in millions of dollars spent on technology that doesn’t work, doesn’t make lawyers more efficient, and doesn’t ultimately further the cause of justice.

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