September 9, 2014

  • ediscoveryThreats to discovery document security.
  • Barriers to effective collaboration.
  • The cost of software, infrastructure upgrades, and training.

These three pain points continue to chafe e-discovery initiatives despite maturing methods and technology advances. And they remain in-between many organizations and e-discovery success.

The pain continues in part because each point amplifies the other two. For example, e-discovery users are demanding mobile access to the electronically stored information (ESI) they review. A growing number are even insisting that a bring your own device (BYOD) policy is essential to their productivity. But mobile access is the natural enemy of document security, and BYOD even more so.

As the tradition of petrifying e-discovery documents into TIFF or JPEG format gives way to a preference for native file formats and their richer discovery value, a big part of enabling e-discovery means outfitting legal staff with all the native applications required to view the plethora of case file formats possible: DOC, PDF, email, SMS text and many more. The cost is enormous, in license fees, infrastructure, training and lost productivity. It’s higher still when mobile devices are added to the mix.

Step 1 in addressing this triple challenge lies in the application’s viewing layer. Incorporating a multiformat, mulitidevice viewer into a hybrid-native e-discovery solution extends end-user e-discovery viewing functionality to wherever it’s needed, or wherever users want it. When documents can be delivered via HTML5, users can review those documents on any connected device running a native HTML5 browser.

An HTML5 viewer converts document and image files on demand from common file formats into a compact viewing file that displays in a browser window with the source document’s original formatting intact. Documents can be delivered through the browser on any device, without the heavy footprint of apps, plugins or other additional software.

But most importantly, HTML5 viewing means sensitive original discovery documents never have to leave the server to be reviewed. The processing, review, and analysis phases of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM), and even parts of the production phase, can all be performed safely with viewer-generated facsimiles which can then be saved as PDF files production, with selected annotations intact and all traces of redacted content removed.

Obviously, sending sensitive legal documents through public networks in HTML5 format raises enormous red flags for legal departments and compliance bodies. E-discovery solutions must balance the performance and device-independence advantages of HTML5 viewing with iron-clad security measures, including the highest levels of SSL encryption both on the server and on documents in transit.

Additional security may be enabled through customizable controls on the end-user interface, so that the administrator can restrict such functions as text copying, printing and downloading of the source file according to users’ authorization levels and individual needs.

While enabling HTML5 viewing is an important step to effective e-discovery, it is only the first. Legal staff do more with documents than read them, and any complete attempt at addressing the e-discovery triple challenge must also supply the additional functionality users require to fully perform discovery, case review and other document-centered tasks. I’ll explore those requirements in Part 2.