In the past, legal discovery was an extremely time-consuming and labor-intensive process. But that’s all changed in recent years thanks to the introduction of electronically stored information (ESI) and the transition to eDiscovery.  

Today, legal teams need to move quickly and efficiently during the eDiscovery process to get the best legal outcomes and to comply with federal and state regulations. Recent advancements in legal eDiscovery software make the process infinitely easier, enabling much faster workflows and better results. 

This post provides an overview of eDiscovery and a review of Microsoft Advanced eDiscovery, a leading eDiscovery platform. It also provides some guidance on what you can do to select the right platform. 

First Things First: What Is eDiscovery?

Let’s start with a quick refresher on eDiscovery.  

Legal eDiscovery has to do with collecting, preparing, and managing ESI for use in court. The federal court system requires it. So, too, do most state and local jurisdictions that follow federal models.  

The eDiscovery model is a nine-step process that involves the following: 

  1. Information governance, or building a plan to protect data and reduce risk during eDiscovery
  2. Identification, which involves locating ESI sources
  3. Preservation, or protecting data from tampering and destruction
  4. Collection, or compiling ESI
  5. Processing, and reducing ESI volumes
  6. Review, and combing through ESI
  7. Analysis, and looking for patterns and context
  8. Production, or transmitting ESI to key stakeholders during a case like court officials and opposing teams
  9. Presentation, or sharing ESI during a hearing or court case

A growing number of corporations and legal teams are now turning to cloud-based eDiscovery platforms to streamline information management. Of course, as one of the strongest software companies on the planet, it comes as no surprise that Microsoft is one of the leading providers in this space. 

Keep reading to learn more about Microsoft’s approach to eDiscovery software. You’ll also learn about the advantages and disadvantages of using it.  

Microsoft’s Approach to eDiscovery 

If you’re like most business professionals, you’re no doubt familiar with Microsoft’s core software solutions, like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Microsoft also offers a few different eDiscovery tools through the Microsoft 365 platform. 

Microsoft eDiscovery vs. Advanced eDiscovery 

Some tools in the Microsoft 365 platform include Content Search, a basic tool for scanning content locations; Core eDiscovery, for searching and exporting content; and Advanced eDiscovery, for end-to-end eDiscovery management. 

Advanced eDiscovery builds on the underlying Microsoft eDiscovery and analytics components. This tool enables teams to collect, preserve, analyze, review, and export content. This is especially helpful when completing investigations in and outside of the organization. For example, a company may use Advanced eDiscovery to gather legal data during compliance audits, conduct risk assessments, or prepare for court cases. 

What Does Microsoft Advanced eDiscovery Offer?

Here is a breakdown of what teams can accomplish using Advanced eDiscovery.  

Locating and Collecting Data 

Microsoft enables teams to collect eDiscovery data for investigations and cases, reducing time, risk, and complexity.  

Advanced eDiscovery also collects data from third-party sources like Facebook, Slack, and Zoom that gets archived in Microsoft 365 through data connectors. What’s more, the platform contains built-in support for multiple non-Microsoft 365 file types.  

Add it all up, and the platform makes the eDiscovery process considerably easier. 

Culling Data

Legal teams often face extremely large data sets that need to be trimmed down. Microsoft Advanced eDiscovery offers intelligent capabilities powered by machine learning to cull data volumes and filter content. The platform also enables smart tags and relevance modules for advanced reviews. 

Analyzing Data

Organizations often struggle to review large volumes of data. This is a problem that will only get worse over time, as more and more data is under organizational control. Of course, it’s one of the main reasons why the legal eDiscovery process typically takes a long time.  

The Advanced eDiscovery platform offers tools for analyzing documents and reviewing information while preserving and protecting it from tampering or destruction. This makes the process exceptionally faster and more accurate. 

Managing Workflows 

Advanced eDiscovery also streamlines eDiscovery workflows within Microsoft 365, linking shared and unique data sources to custodians, along with reporting and analytics. Again, this is a good fit for groups that are heavily immersed in the Microsoft ecosystem and want to simplify operations and minimize reliance on third-party vendors.  

The platform also has an automated legal hold notification workflow. Legal holds are notifications that legal departments send to stakeholders to inform them about data that may be used in an investigation. Examples of this data include emails, chats, and video communications. Advanced eDiscovery makes it easy to track and distribute hold notifications and reminders. The platform can also distribute escalations from a central area. 

Licensing Requirements for Advanced eDiscovery 

One of the biggest downsides to Microsoft Advanced eDiscovery is that it comes with some tight licensing restrictions. This makes it less accessible than most third-party competitors. If you’re familiar with buying Microsoft products for an office environment, this probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise. 

Advanced eDiscovery requires a subscription to Microsoft 365 E5, Office 365, or Microsoft 365 E3 with the E5 compliance add-on. There are other, more nuanced ways to get the solution; check with Microsoft to learn more. 

According to Microsoft, organizations without an existing Microsoft 365 E5 plan that want to try Advanced eDiscovery can add Microsoft 365 to an existing subscription or sign up for a trial of Microsoft 365 ES. 

As you can see, there are a number of different ways you can add this solution to your legal team’s tool kit. You just might need some help figuring out which way makes the most sense for your organization. 

Should You Buy Microsoft Advanced eDiscovery?

At the end of the day, the decision to buy Microsoft Advanced eDiscovery largely depends on how much your organization relies on the Microsoft ecosystem.  On one hand, the Advanced eDiscovery platform could be a natural fit for companies that depend almost exclusively on Microsoft products and want something that will integrate easily with existing systems and workflows. 

On the other hand, law firms and legal departments that are not currently using Microsoft 365 will have to purchase additional software, driving up the cost of deployment and potentially disrupting other workflows. As such, administrators considering Advanced eDiscovery are strongly encouraged to round up department heads and IT leaders to go over the available options and figure out a path forward. 

Of course, Microsoft is just one of the many providers in the growing global eDiscovery market, which is currently on pace to reach a whopping $24.12 billion by 2026. Many new providers have made their way into the space in recent years, providing an abundance of options for legal departments and firms. 

Before moving forward with any one particular vendor, it’s a good idea to request information from vendors, demo software, and find a solution that can match your organization’s exact needs.   

Venio: A flexible Approach to eDiscovery 

Organizations seeking a more flexible eDiscovery platform should look into Venio Systems, makers of the VenioOne unified eDiscovery platform.  

VenioOne doesn’t require any additional underlying software and comes with flexible licensing for rapid scalability and burst use cases. In fact, VenioOne can reduce licensing costs by tenfold! It’s a highly scalable, fully hosted, cloud-based platform that you can easily deploy in just about any legal environment—from small firms to large enterprises.  

If you’re looking for a comprehensive eDiscovery solution, you can’t go wrong with Venio Systems. For more information on the easiest way to optimize your team’s eDiscovery capabilities, check out Venio Systems today

To experience Venio in action, request a demo today.

This post was written by Justin Reynolds. Justin is a freelance writer who enjoys telling stories about how technology, science, and creativity can help workers be more productive. In his spare time, he likes seeing or playing live music, hiking, and traveling.