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‘Radical’ mobile e-discovery tool may be game changer, experts say
When it comes to e-discovery, HR knows how frustrating and time-consuming sifting through data can be. But a new technology is on target to change all that.
Where lawyers once (and sometimes still) manually collected and pored through paper documents pulled from clients’ file cabinets, the process has evolved with new technology, from document-scanning in the late 1980s to the high-end databases of the 1990s and 2000s designed to handle hundreds of thousands of e-mails, digital spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations as electronic data proliferated.
But well-established, high-end e-discovery systems, of which there are many, can require an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars in software, consultants, IT staff and onsite equipment.
One new company, recently profiled in The Washington Post, is gaining attention. Logikcull, a data management retrieval firm based in Washington, D.C., is being hired by corporations, governments and law firms to perform e-discovery—at a fraction of the cost and speed, by using a simple design. The service costs $2,500 a year per user, and customers typically have 12 to 20 users. That price includes unlimited storage and 5 gigabytes of uploads. The company charges $100 per gigabyte of additional uploaded data. The bootstrapped company promises corporations, government agencies and law firms an affordable, nimble alternative that can save 90 percent of the cost of a traditional, on-premises e-discovery system. That’s because Logikcull requires no new software, hardware or vendors.
“It used to be you had giant storage rooms with file cabinets, and you’d send someone to find a file, bring it back, review it and redact whatever needs to be redacted and then produce it,” V. David Zvenyach, general counsel for the District of Columbia Council, told The Washington Post. “Now it’s different. Thousands of documents can be retrieved at a moment’s notice.”
Logikcull has gathered positive reviews in legal technology publications.
Last fall, Law Technology News profiled Logikcull as a product of the week, citing its “easy, intuitive process for sharing electronic data discovery.” A June 2013 review on the Lawyerist website stated that even though more sophisticated options are on the market, “no tool is more suitable for mobile discovery than Logikcull,” which it called a “realistically priced, no-frills product.”
“Other discovery companies have tried to modify their software so it can be used on phones or tablets but what you really get is a smaller-screen experience which can make it difficult to even see documents. Logikcull designed their software so that it actually works inside a mobile environment, making the mobile review experience similar to reviewing on a desktop PC,” the Lawyerist stated.
The Washington, D.C., technology firm aims to “democratize” e-discovery with the affordable, cloud-based service that can be reached on virtually any smartphone, tablet or desktop computer and is considered as easy to use as Facebook.
Company co-founder and CEO Andy Wilson compares Logikcull’s interface to g-mail in its simplicity. Brett Burney, an independent e-discovery consultant based in Cleveland, agrees.
“If you can upload a picture to Facebook then you can upload an e-mail collection to Logikcull,” Burney said in an interview. In a review last year, he called Logikcull’s mobile-friendly service “refreshing and radical.”
Although Wilson said that Logikcull’s market share is “laughable” at this point, about a year after the decade-old company officially launched its current, do-it-yourself e-discovery service, he also said the business is on track to achieving $100 million in recurring revenue in the next five years.
As SHRM Onlinereported in 2011, companies can curb e-discovery costs and document proliferation with strong records management policies that spell out how long to keep records, the methods for storing electronic data, a compliance audit process, and rules for quick deletion of unnecessary documents not required by law to be retained for certain periods.
“We’re seeing pretty explosive growth right now,” Wilson told SHRM Online. While declining to disclose specific figures, he said revenue was expected to grow by 500 percent from December 2013 to December 2014. In addition, he said, Logikcull expects to reach 1 billion pages of documents hosted in the next six or seven months.
A 2006 change in the federal rules of civil procedure, with courts acknowledging electronically stored information is the same as paper information, was a watershed moment for e-discovery, Burney said.
“Just like most things in the technology world, you can streamline all that. That’s where Logikcull comes in,” said Burney, who considers the company the leader among next-generation, cloud-based document review platforms. “It can basically be e-discovery for everyone.”
Customers log in and upload their data, which they can easily manage and share with other parties, Wilson said. The platform organizes the documents, rendering them in PDF form, making them easy to audit, the company states. Logikcull is a “100 percent self-service model,” Wilson said.
“That was the real magic, we built the full automation of that very real management process,” Wilson said. The lower costs will democratize e-discovery services, he said.
The company’s customer breakdown recently stood at about 61 percent law firms, 34 percent corporations, and the rest government and nonprofit service providers. Logikcull counts Fortune 500 companies among its customers.
Corporations want the service mostly for employee investigations, Wilson said. The product, for example, can help a company go through employee e-mail in the case of a sexual harassment complaint.
“If you don’t handle it appropriately from the get-go … it can ruin your case,” Wilson said. “One of the nice aspects of Logikcull is you can use it for a small internal investigation.” If the complaint becomes a big deal, the platform can handle it, as the information is in a scalable, centralized, discovery database “hub” in the cloud, he said.
Companies can do the discovery work internally, without outside counsel, the CEO said, noting that Logikcull has customers with two or three people doing work that 100 lawyers previously would handle.
Government agencies represent the fastest-growing part of the business, with Baltimore and Washington, D.C., both recently becoming clients. Huge volumes of public Freedom of Information Act requests are driving the state and local government business, according to Wilson, who said Baltimore expects to save some 500 hours of FOIA work annually using the service.
Dinah Wisenberg Brin, a freelance writer based in Philadelphia, previously worked as a reporter for Dow Jones Newswires and The Associated Press.
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