According to the American Bar Association, it is crucial for attorneys and e-discovery professionals to define the rules of engagement instead of leaving those details to the IT department. Attorneys are being held to much higher standards of knowledge when it comes to technology, especially in terms of electronic discovery. ABA Model Rule 11 states that attorneys bear a duty to provide competent representation for their clients, and translated into today’s language — that means a firm understanding of technology and all of the various implications. Fortunately, there are advanced tools already built into Microsoft Office 365 that can help support the needs of law offices as they create a proactive e-discovery strategy for their offices and for their clients.
E-discovery is increasingly complex as you bring globalization and mobile platforms into the conversation. The ability for mobile phones and tablets to access even the most sensitive personal and legal data is an ongoing challenge, not to mention the ability of clients to easily share information that should have remained confidential. SMS text messages, social media chats, in-app notes — these types of interactions must all be appraised for potential inclusion in legal matters in the future. However, the information that is shared between attorneys, clients and other external parties can be more easily managed with tools from Microsoft Office that are already available to your e-discovery team.
The electronic discovery tools available in Microsoft Office 365 are increasingly detailed and include the ability to identify content that is a near duplicate, perform predictive coding and consolidate information across email threads. While you may still need a dedicated e-discovery platform for more detailed analysis, Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity platform has many advanced features baked into the base functionality. Microsoft has been boosting their e-discovery chops with additions to the platform that will provide professionals with more of the tools that they need to wrangle and report on data and communications that will impact their various cases. Massive regulatory cases are not the only ones whose outcome may depend on a single email — there are also thousands of smaller cases that can be solved more quickly and accurately with access to the correct information gained through intensive e-discovery.
The ability to easily share information is a boon for attorneys and clients alike, as people are increasingly ready to work from remote locations and while on-the-go. Law offices must take additional measures to ensure the security and consistency of data due to these additional pressures, and Office 365 can create clean transfer records across various mobile platforms, desktops and email. Attorneys and their staff must have a firm understanding of the flow of information throughout their various systems to take full advantage of the ways they can collect and preserve this crucial electronic data.
Investing in advanced e-discovery software may be necessary, but there are many ways that law offices are able to streamline their data structures and workflow by leveraging the advanced functionality that is already available within Microsoft Office 365. Speak with your local technology professionals to better understand Microsoft’s options for improved security and deeper data insights.