Bartlit Beck was seeking a single tool to allow its collaborative legal teams to look at documents electronically, search them, and easily link and organize related documents, passages, notes, and annotations from multiple sources. We envisioned the equivalent of a secure online “war room” where team members could easily access the most important case content to prepare for depositions, motion practice, and early case assessment (ECA). The product would also need to function like an electronic “whiteboard” where we could capture ongoing dialogue and interpretations of the relationships among key documents, testimony and research, and from those discussions create supporting outlines, timelines, structured arguments, and designations.
What We Were Using Before
We employed a host of tools to accomplish a range of individual tasks for the entire project we had embarked on, but nothing gave us a complete solution. We were using trial presentation software, in-house tools, NetDocuments, Adobe Acrobat, even Excel/Access with hyperlinks. We also occasionally made use of functions within “big data” e-discovery software. Each of these tools performs well for specific tasks, but we wanted a single tool that would serve us for the entire project. We were constantly moving between multiple programs with no common interface and no easy way to integrate them. For example, we were using presentation software to view documents and make notes, but we could not link between documents nor could we perform full-text searches. We tried a full-text searching tool but were not able to post results or the notations to the cloud for multi-user collaboration. Our “big data” databases, while powerful and useful for pushing large volumes of information through the e-discovery process, lacked many of the collaborative features we needed, were not user-friendly and they were not going to serve us well in the trial preparation phase.
Opus 2 Magnum is unique in that it covered all our bases in a single tool. We couldn’t find anything else that compared to it.
Why We Chose Opus 2 Magnum
In a law firm, shifting to a new tool and a new workflow can be difficult. People have a tendency to resist change. Early software interfaces were more complex, and in many firms employees were relying on a “power user” to get things done. A new tool, no matter how powerful or affordable, is a waste if people can’t or won’t use it. That’s why any software we acquire at Bartlit Beck has to be user-friendly. I test ease of use by observing how long it takes to show new users how to get up and running and whether they have to study a manual to figure out how to perform a task. Simply put, if it’s hard to explain, it’s hard to use. Magnum passed with flying colors.
Magnum has everything we were looking for in collaborative software with an array of robust features designed specifically for legal professionals. The ability to not only hyperlink between files, but attach notations explaining why you are hyperlinking, is just one of dozens of examples of the intelligent functionality in this product.
Accessibility and Security
My challenge was to “sell” skeptics on a cloud-based tool. Upon closer scrutiny, Magnum easily passed the security test. What we then needed to change was the notion that “I’ve got to be able to use it when there is no Internet, on a plane, etc. I need a local version.” The emergence of ubiquitous Wi-Fi has already undermined that argument. I was also able to demonstrate that the many advantages of a cloud-based tool like Magnum (see below) far outweigh the now-rare instances of no Wi-Fi. Finally, reliance on local copies of documents defeats the whole purpose of collaboration, and it also presents a serious security risk.
Benefits of Cloud Technology
Magnum allows us to eliminate a long installation process on local machines as well as additional costs associated with servers and maintenance. Updates and improvements made by Magnum are immediate to the software and do not require that we reinstall locally. Limited storage space on laptops or servers is no longer a constraint, so we now have easy access to large video files. Because attorney work product is instantly available in a single work space, collaboration between our Denver- and Chicago-based attorneys is seamless. We reduced or eliminated dozens of duplicative efforts like copying documents to multiple tools or saving repeatedly to local drives that don’t allow synchronization.
Magnum is competitive with any of the major e-data software offerings pricing. Because we have the ability to load documents and manage it ourselves, we are not incurring large host-management costs. Magnum’s pricing structure allows us to more easily predict costs to clients.
Anticipated Uses in the Future
We expect to use Magnum primarily in that niche between the large database collections created in discovery phase and trial, when your focus needs to narrow to the key material. Any time a legal matter—large or small—requires our legal team to access and view key documents and transcripts, search, annotate, and categorize them, create links within and between materials, and be able to discuss them collaboratively in real time, Opus 2 Magnum will be the solution for us.