Is Microsoft Gaining A Foothold In The Legal Industry?

The Legal Tech Industry

The global legal services market, according to MarketLine had total revenues of $610.4bn in 2013, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3% between 2009 and 2013. Market volume increased with a CAGR of 2.7% between 2009 and 2013, to reach a total of 4,082.1 thousand legal professionals in 2013. The performance of the market is forecast to accelerate, with an anticipated CAGR of 4.2% for the five-year period 2013 – 2018, which is expected to drive the market to a value of $750.9bn by the end of 2018.

Having said that, the sheer size of global legal market could attract many new entrants. Cloud computing is changing how information is disseminated, accessed, processed, and governed. Multinational companies with global IT infrastructure spend millions in managing their network infrastructure, and have sizeable budget allocated for potential litigation and compliance work. The real issue is not the size of the cost to maintain – it’s ‘Big Data’.

Product innovation is at the heart of Microsoft’s work. Undoubtedly, a true innovative market player since 1975. In a refined manner, Microsoft recently introduced the e-Discovery module in one of its flagship product SharePoint. The rationale behind is quite simple. To cater to the growing needs to information governance and compliance functions. The Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) has been recently amended to include ‘Information Governance’ as a key component. EDRM is a framework that outlines standards for the recovery and discovery and of digital data. It is designed to serve as guidance for gathering and assimilating electronic data during the litigation process, and acts as a conceptual standard for the e-Discovery process. In case you are not familiar with e-Discovery, it is the process of finding, preserving, analyzing, and producing content in electronic formats as required by litigation or investigations.

An organization typically has vast amount of digital and social data. There are significant legal risks associated with preserving, searching, and producing data when legal events occur. How do you search within your existing data to comply with e-Discovery requests? How do you export is in an appropriate format? The answer lies within SharePoint 2013. SharePoint 2013 introduces the eDiscovery Center site collection, which has features to help with the first half of the eDiscovery Reference Model (EDRM)— Information Governance, Identification, Preservation, Collection, Processing, and Analysis.

In the e-Discovery Center you can create e-Discovery Case sites, which are used to organize in-place holds, queries, and exports for a particular case. The e-Discovery Case site is designed for in-house legal teams to perform their e-Discovery work. The new e-Discovery capabilities within SharePoint 2013 have three key advantages to help you get through during a lawsuit:

  1.  In-Place Hold—Preserve and search across content in native stores. This is faster, easier, and provides higher fidelity than the processes in use today. Plus, with our in-place approach, you can reduce the storage space you use.
  2.  Near real-time search—Built-in search system of SharePoint and Exchange, content is always up-to-date and you can run searches anytime.
  3.  More content—Preserve, search, and export OneNote files, webpages, communities, microblogs, Lync IMs, Lync meetings, and more.

SharePoint e-Discovery capabilities give a promising answer for handling compliance and information governance related functions. Microsoft’s route towards the legal industry and strategically positioning itself with its SharePoint product may be a step towards entering and capturing the multi-billion dollar global legal industry.

By Syed Raza

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