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5 Rules to Inform Legal Technology Selection

Written by Doug Austin, Editor of eDiscovery Today

Whether you’re a partner at a law firm, General Counsel at a Corporation, or a leader of legal services within a government agency, you can’t accomplish the goals of your legal team efficiently and effectively without leveraging technology.

But many legal “chiefs” within organizations don’t know what to look for when selecting a technology solution to support their teams – they are experts in managing legal workflows and tasks, not understanding the ins and outs of technology solutions.

While legal leaders within organizations may not understand the technology, there is no avoiding the fact that their involvement in the purchasing process is vital to ensure that technology selection addresses the needs of the organization. Even if they leverage a technical resource to assist with software selection, it’s their teams who need to use the technology to accomplish legal objectives, so their involvement in the selection process is mandatory.

5 Rules to Inform Technology Selection

With that in mind, this blog describes 5 rules legal leaders can use to inform technology selection.

These are rules that apply whether your organization is considering a solution to support workflows for information governance, eDiscovery, or any other business function. They are not specific features to look for – the “must have” features are always evolving to support changing requirements.

Instead, they are 5 maxims to guide the selection process that can help ensure a successful outcome to support your organization’s technology needs today and tomorrow.

  1. Emphasize Workflow Automation: A technology solution today must automate as many workflows as possible to be effective. For an eDiscovery solution, that includes the ability to integrate with the systems where your organization’s data lives – such as M365, OneDrive, Gmail, Slack, Teams, and various file shares. It also includes streamlining the entire EDRM lifecycle, from Identification through Presentation, not Production. After all, Presentation is where the case is often won or lost, right? Manual workflows are costly and prone to potential mistakes, so emphasize how automation can help these processes when choosing a software solution.
  2. Stay Current on Trends: Don’t buy technology designed to address last year’s challenges. Data sources are always changing, so it’s great if a solution supports discovery of email and office files, but so what? They all do. Ask about how it handles data sources like mobile devices and collaboration apps. Evaluate how the technology provider is keeping an eye on future potential data sources as well. Set aside 5 to 15 minutes daily to learn more about the trends in the industry your solution needs to be prepared to address.
  3. Maximize Security and Privacy Protection: When it takes 280 days to identify and contain a data breach, you need to do everything possible to maximize the security of the solution, which includes selecting a solution that certifies its protection of data through data protection standards like SOC II, HIPAA, and (for government agencies) FedRAMP. Securing sensitive data also entails selecting a solution that can auto-classify Personally Identifiable Information (PII), Protected Health Information (PHI), and Payment Card Industry (PCI) data. Security and privacy protection will always be imperative for any software selection.
  4. Customer References: As is the case when buying anything, you want to find out what other customers are experiencing in implementing and using the software solution. Don’t just ask questions about the software features; also ask about things like onboarding processes with the software (including training), experiences with the vendor’s technical support, and how they communicate upcoming enhancements via the product roadmap.
  5. Try it Before You Buy It: Finally, push for a Proof of Concept (POC) trial of the software solution, if possible. With most solutions today available in the cloud, the provider should be able and willing to let you try the software solution out before making the purchasing decision. They may even have sample data that you can use as part of your testing process. It’s very important that you devote the time necessary to adequately test the product during the POC timeframe before that window closes and you have missed your opportunity to learn valuable information to guide your solution decision.

Conclusion

It may be daunting for many legal professionals to make technology buying solutions when they don’t fully understand the technology, but there’s no avoiding the fact that, as a legal professional benefitting from the technology, you need to understand how the solution will benefit you and your team. The five rules above will help ensure that the solution – regardless of the use cases it’s designed to support – will do that.

And for more educational topics from me related to eDiscovery, information governance, cybersecurity and data privacy, feel free to follow my blog, eDiscovery Today! Learn more about IPRO solutions that emphasize workflow automation and security