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LegalTech Roundup: New E-Mail Archive Software And More

A pile of new e-discovery products and services were announced around the LegalTech show this week. E-discovery is now a core concern for IT operations because of the
importance of electronically stored information (ESI) in today's
lawsuits, and it's the responsibility of IT to find and store this
information. We summarize five products below, including the launch of a new e-mail archive product
with an e-discovery focus, Kroll Ontrack's Ontrack Compass.

E-mail makes up a large portion of the ESI that companies are required to find, preserve and analyze in a legal matter, so the product is targeted at organizations in highly litigious and regulated markets, such as financial services and pharmaceuticals. Kroll says the archive can scale to over 100,000 mailboxes. Ontrack Compass includes common features found in other archives, such as the ability to stub messages so that users can have a pointer to archived e-mail in their inbox. It uses single-instance storage and compression to conserve disk space. As you'd expect with an archive aimed at the discovery market, it lets administrators apply legal holds, exports messages in a variety of formats and conducts extensive searches. The company also plans to release modules that let administrators and legal counsel conduct early case assessment on archived messages.

Kroll may have a hard time gaining significant traction with this product. The market is saturated with archiving products, and there are few greenfield installations among the company's target market. If companies want to take advantage of the discovery-centric features promised by Kroll for the huge volumes of mail in a legacy archive, that will require a complex migration job, particularly since legal cases aren't going to be put on hold while IT pumps old mail into the new system. That means potential customers will have to manage--and pay for--both a new product and a legacy archive. E-discovery budgets tend to be juicy, but that's a still a tough sell.

Also in the e-mail archive space, LiveOffice, which provides SaaS-based archiving, announced a partnership with Zapproved. As a SaaS provider, Zapproved offers a legal-hold management application, Legal Hold Pro. Under the terms of the partnership, companies that use Live Office Discovery Archive can get Legal Hold Pro as an add-on. Because both services are SaaS, pricing is per user per month, but Live Office did not provide specific figures. Legal Hold Pro provides an interface for legal counsel to send legal hold notifications to appropriate persons, track responses, manage all active legal holds and provide an audit trail. The combined services are available now.

The e-discovery process consists of numerous phases. In early stages such as identification, collection and preservation, large volumes of data are gathered. In later phases, attorneys and paralegals review that data to weed out irrelevant material, find and review relevant ESI and decide how to proceed with the case. The review phase tends to be the most expensive because most organizations over-collect in the early stages, resulting in a large pile of files and documents to be reviewed (usually at very high billable hours).

E-discovery vendors are releasing products to help organizations begin assessments earlier and reduce the volume of irrelevant material that needs to be fully reviewed. This is known as Early Case Assessment (ECA). Just before LegalTech, StoredIQ announced Analyze Anywhere. This product lets organizations analyze electronically stored information (ESI) earlier in the e-discovery process. The product includes a workflow that lets an organization's legal team see what information has already been collected for a case, weed out irrelevant ESI, determine if the scope of the discovery effort needs to be adjusted and begin examining the merits of the case. Analyze Anywhere will be generally available in the second quarter of this year.

Guidance Software's forthcoming EnCase Ediscovery 4 also adds ECA capabilities. Rather than wait until all potentially relevant material has been collected, Ediscovery 4 lets legal counsel look at ESI as it comes in. Legal counsel can use knowledge gathered from this ECA to refine the search and get a sense of their position in the case. The new version also enables pre-collection analytics, allowing IT or legal to scan meta-data of potentially relevant information without having to collect it first. The system analyzes the meta-data to give users a sense of the size of the data collection they are about to undertake. A beta version of Ediscovery 4 will be available this month.

Finally, Clearwell Systems announced Clearwell E-Discovery Platform 5.5, the latest version of its e-discovery appliance. The appliance helps legal analyze and process ESI gathered by other products. The newest version beefs up the processing power of the appliance--the company claims it can process 1Tbyte of data per day and scale to 100 million documents. Multiple appliances can also be clustered for very large cases. The appliance should be available in the second quarter.