It took two and a half years working hand-in-hand with Epiq, but in March Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), launched its global cloud platform for eDiscovery to allow its alternative legal services team, known as ALT, to operate via a single cloud portal for all the firm’s discovery needs.
As Stephanie Barrett, Head of eDiscovery & Legal Technology at HSF’s ALT team, explained to Artificial Lawyer, this has made a huge difference.
‘Through the portal we can have seamless access. And, we can provide support to the firm wherever the need is,’ she explained.
Barrett (pictured above) also stressed the value of not having to use ‘different infrastructures and environments’, something that lawyers are getting increasingly put off by as the number of tech solutions increases.
‘Also, the lawyers [working on a matter] can use the platform wherever they are,’ she added – and that’s especially important as the legal world continues with some form of Working From Home.
Another aspect is the flexibility. As Barrett explained: ‘In terms of benefits in the UK, it’s very significant, as before this was all on-premises.’
‘We can scale demand whenever it is needed and never have to worry about data volume.’
She added that there is also more access to a range of legal tech tools, as and when needed.
‘We can build out a global tool kit, and everyone in the firm across the world can have access to all the same software,’ she noted.
‘What is exciting is if we want to bring in new tech, we can do that. We can just plug in new tools.’
This site asked why had the project taken two and a half years? The answer is that the whole thing had to be built from scratch, as such a system could not be ‘bought off the shelf’ and had to be designed with Epiq’s own tech team. Then the pandemic arrived and that didn’t help. Also, Barrett noted, they are still to fully ‘switch on’ the system in Australia and New York, its two other main centres for eDiscovery work outside of the UK. That will happen later this year.
But even on a very practical level it’s already helped, such as when a lawyer is at home they don’t need ‘lots of different logins’ to get into their work: it’s all just one portal.
‘It’s removed the perceived borders that people experienced before,’ she added. That may sound like a small thing, but to someone working day-in and day-out on litigation it all adds up to a sizeable positive impact.
And lastly, what next for the ALT team, which started 10 years ago with the launch of its Belfast base, and has about 350 staff working across 10 offices, covering not just discovery tasks, but other areas as well? Will we see more projects like this, maybe for M&A due diligence?
Barrett concluded: ‘We are more than litigation. We will look at other tech for driving efficiency across our focus areas, which includes finance, corporate and employment.’
Watch this space.