As legal e-discovery technology evolves, so do the options for deploying it. Some law firms and corporations prefer to house all of their own data, while others work closely with hosting partners for a range of infrastructure and project management support.
We sat down with Jason Richard, director of e-discovery for H5, to gain insight into how litigation support providers advise organizations on their deployment options. H5, a Relativity Best in Service Partner, offers various e-discovery services, including a growing infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) model. Jason shared his pointers for law firms and corporations that are considering IaaS among other service arrangements.
Anusha: What types of clients are typically successful with an IaaS model?
Jason: Originally, we thought this model would be the most appealing to medium-sized law firms that have an internal litigation support team with an interest in expanding their internal capabilities. These law firms are usually not interested in making substantial infrastructure and technology investments, but would still like to have control and power over their matters and position these capabilities as strengths to their clients.
We’ve been somewhat surprised to find that larger law firms are also interested in an IaaS model. Even if they have a mature litigation support organization in-house with e-discovery solutions already on hand, they are seeing the value of a managed infrastructure that resides outside of their organization.
Why do you think larger law firms are interested in taking this approach?
Even for large firms, the back-end technology involved in e-discovery and a lot of the security requirements that go into their projects can be technical and complex. A common security challenge for law firms with a variety of matters is that they’re inevitably going to deal with very stringent regulatory requirements—whether it’s over healthcare information (HIPAA), credit card information (PCI), or U.S. government defense-related regulations (ITAR). Unless you have a firm understanding of what the regulatory requirements mean from an infrastructure and data access standpoint, it can be dangerous territory.
One of the benefits of utilizing IaaS is that the partner you’re working with deals with these issues every single day. Having a partner to help navigate these waters and ensure the infrastructure is compliant with these regulations is a great benefit of choosing this service model.
It sounds like support is still a large consideration in an IaaS model.
Certainly, having a partner that’s working very closely with you on the underlying technology of our e-discovery platform provides an extension of your internal practice support and IT teams. A hosting partner will help develop the infrastructure, configure how systems communicate, and set up where and how the data transfers. This gives you the comfort of knowing that you have the flexibility, scalability, and technical support to deal with whatever surprises you encounter—and there’s a lot of those in e-discovery. It’s really about having that close partnership with someone that knows your organization.
What types of clients would you advise to take a different approach and steer away from an IaaS model?
An IaaS model might not make a lot of sense for law firms that don’t have a nexus of e-discovery or practice support expertise. These clients would be better suited for a more full-services approach, as IaaS is really more about leaving the e-discovery efforts in the hands of the client.
On the opposite end, firms that have invested heavily in their data centers probably won’t want to adopt an IaaS model. These are law firms that have made a strategic decision to make managing their own data a part of their story in the market. These organizations might instead seek support in areas such as overflow resources.
What is the best advice you can give organizations currently debating their service options?
We’ve found that IaaS empowers law firms by giving them control over best-in-breed solutions while taking the back-end technology concerns out of their way. In addition, a new technology in Relativity called multi-tenancy allows partners like H5 to serve multiple customers securely in a single system, keeping costs down for end users while giving them the administrative control they need. It’s something we expect more customers will be asking for.
Overall, though, the service model of choice will always be the one that aligns best with the business strategy and maturity of the e-discovery program of the organization leveraging the software. It’s worth considering which model will best allow teams to focus on their cases, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
Jason Richard, director of e-discovery at H5, has more than 15 years of experience in the legal services industry, with expertise in e-discovery, litigation readiness, and data analysis.
Anusha is a technical product manager at kCura, supporting the development and evolution of some of Relativity's platform features.