Big Case, Big Problems in the State Attorney General’s Office

The Everlaw Solution for Investigation, Onboarding, and Security

Background

The state attorney general was considering giving up on ediscovery enterprise vendors. The large prosecutor’s office had tried several popular platforms, and each one created more problems than they solved. The team struggled with the simplest tasks—even onboarding attorneys and allocating documents for review. “We’d reached the point where we considered reverting to a paper-based system,” said a litigation-support specialist in the AG’s office. With nearly 100 active cases, administrative roadblocks created ever-greater headaches for the team.

All that changed when the team tried Everlaw’s cloud-based litigation platform. Not only was it fast, intuitive, and easy to use, it pointed them toward fresh investigative leads and new strategic avenues. This became especially evident in one complex antitrust matter involving 135 reviewers and more than 1 million documents.

The challenge

The AG’s office regularly investigated complex matters that presented significant challenges for the litigation-support team. Among them, they needed to:

  • Onboard large groups of reviewers with a range of technical backgrounds, and allow them to begin review as quickly as possible.
  • Quickly identify the most important documents in the case, and maintain an easily searchable and sortable database of these documents for future use.
  • Maintain and enforce document security standards, compliance, and privacy without compromising team communication.
  • Make team time and face-to-face meetings more efficient.

They needed a powerful solution new users could quickly understand. And ideally, they wanted an in-platform messaging system where they could discuss files in context rather than wait for meetings. They also needed a way to set up permissions for the users, departments, and firms involved in the case, and maintain internal control of these user access privileges.

Key takeaways

Everlaw’s search, Messaging, and StoryBuilder tools allowed the team to:

  • Save time and money by quickly onboarding new users, facilitating discussions of coding protocols and other aspects of the case while maintaining in-house control of user profiles and access privileges.
  • Jump-start the review process and quickly respond to new investigative leads.
  • Control privilege and security by maintaining all correspondence and documents within Everlaw’s encrypted, two-factor-protected environment.

Exploring the solution in depth:

First, Everlaw solved lit support’s IT problem

This state attorney general’s office had been having trouble with other ediscovery solutions even before they started document review. The obstacles were so severe, some members of the team thought they’d be better off doing the entire review on paper—even in 2016.

Before adopting Everlaw, most teams in the office couldn’t even start document review without encountering a host of administrative obstacles: costly training, lengthy preprocessing, and error-prone setup of account permissions. Once underway, they suffered daily from login issues, search malfunctions, and features that didn’t work as advertised.

“I was given three separate training sessions about our previous platform, and was still confused at the end of them. And I was the expert!” said the litigation-support specialist.

To make matters worse, the AG’s office had 135 users involved in discovery and review, with a wide range of job titles and seniority that required 26 categories of user profile. To provision access, the lit-support team needed to give their vendor a master list of profiles and roles. The vendor frequently misinterpreted the list, leading to misassigned permissions, wasted time, and needless frustration.

Everlaw solved users’ problems by being user-friendly

One section of the department had used Everlaw since 2013, and the platform was the clear favorite throughout the office. “Everlaw has the fastest search performance on the market,” the specialist said. Migration was relatively painless, and the full department got up and running with Everlaw more quickly than any previous solution.

Security and confidentiality were also major priorities for IT administrators concerned about preventing protected or encrypted information from leaking into unencrypted email or being downloaded to unsecured computers.

With Everlaw, the administrator had full control of the account, setting up and maintaining his own user list and privilege control. He could begin work on a new case with just 20 minutes of setup. He could even track which users had accessed each file—a clear improvement over solutions they’d used in the past.

“I can train anybody in the basics of Everlaw within one hour,” said the litigation-support specialist.

Everlaw solved team collaboration problems through messaging

Once the department widely adopted Everlaw, it discovered other benefits as well.

A good example came when the AG’s office was confronted with a complex antitrust case involving 1.18 million documents and the management of 80 assignment groups. There were 3,440 individual review assignments to organize the essential documents and leads.

The AG’s office used Everlaw’s Messaging feature to communicate and coordinate the team’s investigative approach. In the first nine months, the review team sent almost 5,000 messages through Everlaw as they zeroed in on a small group of documents (fewer than 650). Everlaw’s user-friendly and responsive search features allowed the team to refine their approach and identify the most important details as the definition of “hot” documents, the deployment of review codes, and other key details of the case changed.

As is common in antitrust litigation, the team regularly found new evidence that expanded the scope of their original complaint. They initially focused on around twelve products made by the corporation under investigation. As they analyzed the documents, they found references to other potential products side-by-side with the original twelve, suggesting ways to expand the investigation. They used Everlaw’s Messaging to discuss these documents and consider whether they fit into existing coding categories — discussions they previously might have waited weeks or months to have in face-to-face meetings.

The state AG’s team had limited opportunities to meet in person with third parties and MDL partners, often fewer than three times each year. By replacing coding meetings with discussions through the Everlaw platform, the teams found they could save time and budget for more important priorities. Attorneys sent as many as 20 messages per day through Everlaw, cutting down on email and phone conversations.

Everlaw’s Messaging also satisfied the office’s IT administrators, who had made security and confidentiality a major priority. The administrators needed to prevent protected or encrypted information from leaking into unencrypted email or being downloaded to personal computers. Everlaw not only allowed users to communicate securely, and maintain privacy for a wide range of attachments, including documents, folders, and arguments. Discussions within the platform kept conversations in context while preserving document security and confidentiality.

“I love the Messaging system, and encourage everyone to use it,” the specialist said. “Nobody is emailing documents to one another anymore, so there’s no risk confidential information will land in the wrong inbox,” the specialist said. “PDFs of privileged docs don’t get downloaded onto users’ computers. Everything stays encrypted. It’s much more secure.”

In summary

The AG expects this antitrust case to continue for years. As it does, Everlaw will become more useful and essential to the office’s workflow. Everlaw provides blink-speed search, intuitive design, turnkey administration, and powerful information security, while its Messaging helps teams work more effectively and pursue every new lead. With Everlaw, they’ll spend less time tending cases, and more time winning them.


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