Streamlining the Legal Discovery Process with a Virtual Office

by Louie Beaupre
6/11/2014 2:13:52 PM

Virtual offices can make the legal discovery process a lot easier

The legal discovery process can sometimes appear like a circus act – thousands, sometimes millions, of pages of documents of every variety cover every available desk (and floor) surface. With the relatively new inclusion of e-discovery in litigation, keeping track of all that information is an art and a science.

The legal field isn't alone in its utilization of newer technologies, and plenty of law firms (and “freelance" attorneys) have embraced the virtual office solution. When attorneys are dealing with tons of paper, sometimes their standard offices just won't cut it.

What is legal discovery?

The discovery process leading up to a trial can most accurately be described as intense. Incredibly intense. Discovery is when both parties of a lawsuit request and obtain relevant information prior to the trial. “Relevant information" includes every sort of document imaginable, including emails, text messages, and even personal financial information. There will often be depositions on both sides, and plenty of petitions and motions will be filed along the way as each side tries to force the other to provide more evidence.

The idea is that everyone will go through the trial possessing all of the relevant information they could ever need, plus some extra. TV shows often depict the trial as the confrontational part of a lawsuit. In reality, the guns tend to come out during the discovery period.

Wait, what? Emails and text messages are discoverable?

Yes, information like emails and text messages can be used as discovery in a lawsuit.

It's a semi-recent change in the rules, but electronically stored information like emails, voicemails, e-calendars, instant messages, and data are all discoverable in the litigation process, and it's called e-discovery.

E-discovery has changed the way attorneys deal with the discovery process. Discovery has become more expensive and more complex, especially for complicated litigation suits. Lawyers are increasingly turning to technology to make their lives easier, especially when document management during discovery is concerned.

How can a virtual office make legal discovery easier?

A virtual office can help ease the burden of legal discovery in a number of ways.

In the past, it's been fairly common for law firms to rent out office space to sort through the monumental amount of discovery they've acquired. When there's that much paper floating around, renting additional office space is often the easiest way to keep everything organized. Even if a huge chunk of the discovery in a case is e-discovery, attorneys will often print out emails, web pages, and the like.

Executive suites are common space solutions for document review and the discovery process. Additionally, these offices and conference rooms come equipped with all of the technology and tools a legal team might need: projectors, conference phones, whiteboards, and more.

If all hands are on deck, especially in smaller firms, having someone trustworthy to control the phones while the team is buried in paperwork could be a lifesaver.

What other solutions are available to make discovery easier?

Virtual offices are extremely helpful for attorneys coping with the discovery process, but there are tons of other virtual solutions that they're utilizing to make their lives easier. For example, document management software is becoming increasingly vital to large and small firms alike. It's the easiest way to track all of that information acquired through discovery, after all.

Sometimes it might seem like the legal industry is stuck in the stone age, but recent trends in law suggest that isn't the case at all (pun intended.)

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