Does legal counsel care about your Microsoft licence choices?

For most organisations, checking in with legal counsel before choosing a Microsoft licence package sounds absurd. For those dealing with regular litigation, internal investigations or Data Subject Access Requests (DSARs), however, the right licence – used to its fullest – can make a very real difference to the corporate legal bottom-line.  

Over the last few years, Microsoft 365 has benefited from some astounding developments in the areas of information governance and eDiscovery. These capabilities have made it possible for organisations with the right licencing to proactively protect and prepare their data for investigations and litigation, and effectively perform the preliminary eDiscovery processes in house. 

This proactive approach has proved remarkably effective at reducing the time and cost implications of responding to both legal action as well as regulatory compliance obligations like DSARs. 

But what eDiscovery capabilities, exactly, are available from Microsoft, and how far do they go towards replacing specialist providers? 

Let’s take a look. 

Meet Microsoft Purview 

Microsoft has rebranded all of its risk and compliance applications under the banner of Microsoft Purview. These applications fall into three main categories. 

  1. Data Governance
     
    • Microsoft Purview Data Map and Data Catalogue

  1. Risk Management & Privacy
     
    • Microsoft Purview Insider Risk Management 
    • Microsoft Purview Communication Compliance 
    • Microsoft Purview eDiscovery 
    • Microsoft Purview Compliance Manager 

  1. Information Protection
     
    • Microsoft Purview Information Protection 
    • Microsoft Purview Data Lifecycle Management 
    • Microsoft Purview Data Loss Prevention 

Harnessed together, Microsoft Purview’s capabilities enable organisations to proactively understand and govern their data, safeguard it in place, and improve their risk and compliance posture. That’s a move most legal counsel will support. 

Purview for eDiscovery 

While all of Purview’s functionality is relevant to the corporate legal landscape, its eDiscovery capabilities really get pulses racing when it comes to licence choices. 

Purview has three eDiscovery solutions: 

Content search 

  • Search for content 
  • Keyword queries and search conditions 
  • Export search results 
  • Role-based permissions 

eDiscovery Standard 

  • Search and export 
  • Case management 
  • Legal hold 

eDiscovery Premium 

  • Custodian management 
  • Legal hold notifications 
  • Deeper advanced indexing 
  • Review set creation and filtering 
  • Tagging 
  • Analytics 
  • Predictive coding modules 
  • And more 

Each solution builds on the capabilities of the one before and requires a higher licence tier to access. Content Search is available on a Microsoft 365 E1, for example, and eDiscovery Premium is only available with an E5 (or E3 with add-ons). 

While each of these solutions adds value, the magic really happens with the advanced capabilities. These offer end-to-end eDiscovery workflows for both internal and legal investigations. Using Purview eDiscovery Premium, organisations can effectively – and defensibly – identify, preserve, collect, process, cull and analyse their own data, in place, within their own security and compliance boundary. 

Access to these capabilities can be real gamechangers for legal counsel, enabling:  

  • More informed decision-making and case strategies thanks to fast, effective, in-house early data assessment 
  • Lower eDiscovery fees and reduced timescales, thanks to the ability to defensibly cull data at source before exporting to third-party review platforms 
  • Greater visibility into corporate unstructured data for improved risk and compliance posture 

Can Microsoft Purview replace a full-service eDiscovery provider? 

Clearly, Microsoft Purview’s eDiscovery Premium offers potent capabilities for the corporate legal environment. Can it replace a full-service eDiscovery provider or surpass specialist tools like Reveal/Relativity, though?  

No. At least, not yet.  

Why? Partly because Purview’s functionality doesn’t yet handle all the complexities that arise during eDiscovery – effective deduplication, encrypted files, foreign language recognition, managed review, redactions and large productions. 

The other significant shortfall is that Purview primarily works within the Microsoft 365 estate. Some legacy or non-Microsoft 365 content relevant to a case will need to be imported into a Review Set or still  processed in a separate platform, making specialists and specialist tools an ongoing necessity for now. 

That said, don’t be fooled into thinking Purview eDiscovery Premium isn’t worth the licence investment. 

The power of Purview eDiscovery Premium 

Purview eDiscovery Premium’s true value isn’t about replacing specialist eDiscovery tools and processes. Rather, it’s the ability to proactively prepare your data landscape and streamline the early stages of eDiscovery to enable a faster, more efficient – and often dramatically less expensive – eDiscovery process when the experts are brought in. 

Using Purview eDiscovery Premium, internal investigation and legal teams can conduct their own early data assessment, leveraging their knowledge of the matter at hand, coupled with legal domain expertise, to optimise their use of Purview’s in-place search, data assessment, analytics and review. This delivers much faster results than requesting data via IT and makes for more efficient use of the appropriate internal resources.  

These time savings, combined with the cost savings of pre-culled (and therefore smaller) exports to third party eDiscovery platforms, mean Purview eDiscovery Premium’s functionality can literally pay for itself in litigation- and investigation-heavy environments. 

That’s one licence decision that’s easy to make. 

To find out more about reducing your eDiscovery burden and costs with Microsoft Purview, join our free webinar on 21 September.  Sign up here: https://salientdiscovery.com/blog/reducing-your-ediscovery-burden-and-costs-with-microsoft-purview/