Data Trends: Cloud Computing and E-Discovery

Author

Traci Gray

Traci Gray is a Project Manager with Special Counsel.

Cloud computing is a broad term that encompasses the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage, and process data as opposed to a local server or hard drive on a personal computer. These networks are hosted by third party providers in off-site locations.

More companies are finding that by migrating to cloud computing, it allows them the opportunity to manage large volumes of data without the expense of purchasing additional hardware for storage, as well as reducing the need for direct hands-on management of the data. 

While large businesses are actively adopting these practices, law firms and other legal professionals are hesitant when it comes to using cloud computing due to security concerns such as hacking, data breaches, and the uncertainty of just how to access the data that has been stored.

Factors to consider before switching

Accessing electronically stored data (ESI) in the cloud is not as easy as just giving an employee a password to a website, and allowing them free rein to find whatever it is they need. 

When setting up cloud computing, practitioners need to determine if the chosen cloud vendor has the tools to search, collect, and lock down the data. They must also consider discovery deadlines and the amount of time it will take to for the vendor to download large volumes of information into a usable format that is appropriate for an e-discovery review. 

In addition, if a company switches solely to cloud computing, how long will the cloud vendor retain the information and what are the backup procedures for the system? However, these considerations should not make the idea of using cloud computing seem impossible. Common applications such as Slack, Dropbox, Gmail, Facebook, Microsoft Office 365 and Google Docs already provide cloud storage and can be easily accessed and formatted with the appropriate e-discovery software.

Another factor legal practitioners must consider is the company personnel for which cloud computing is available. In many cases, discoverable ESI is likely spread across IT, HR, Legal and other record keeping departments. Individuals in these various departments may not communicate outside of their own bubble and will likely have no idea what type of record storage is utilized or even know that they have access to it.

When crafting or responding to discovery requests, it is important to identify all locations information could possibly be kept. The boilerplate language directs the custodian to produce documents that are under its “possession, custody and control.” In Gordon Partners v. Blumenthal, 293 Fed. Appx. 815 (2d Cir. 2008), the federal court determined that the litigant has “control” of the documents held by a third party if it has the right and ability to obtain those documents from a non-party to the action.

Special Counsel and RelativityOne

Special Counsel utilizes Relativity One, a system built on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, which was designed to interface with other cloud computing applications and simplify the collection process. Our clients are assured that we are offering the best, most secure and most up-to-date technology that can handle a variety of needs. Please contact your sales representative to learn more about our product offerings.

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