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Why Would Trial Lawyers Want to Work Offline?

It’s getting hard to remember a time when everyone didn’t have Internet access available at all times. Or when every restaurant, airplane, and office park didn’t offer WiFi access. (How did people settle bar bets before Google was perpetually available?) Technology is so widespread and so reliable that it’s easy to take it all for granted. (Or, as comedian Louis CK puts it, “Everything is amazing and no one is happy.”)

Courts Are WiredWhy Go Offline?

It’s not too long ago that courts were practically Internet-free zones. Today, courthouses are still (most often) aging civic buildings with creaky plumbing, but even the oldest courthouses are wired for broadband. That means litigators ought to be able to do everything they do at the office while camped on site for a trial.

And in fact, according to the 2012 ABA Legal Technology Survey, a quarter of all litigators use their laptops for email and research in a courtroom, 28 percent of all litigators now use a tablet device in the courtroom, and 68 percent check their email on a smartphone. Nextpoint still recommends lawyers have a backup plan if you’re using the Net for courtroom presentations in case. But, for the most part, courts are like the rest of the world– wired and fully connected to the Internet.

Proof of Concept

The wiring of the world, especially courts is a great proof of concept for cloud computing. There’s almost nowhere you can go that you don’t have access to the Net or your cloud applications. Nextpoint recognized a long time ago that trial, eDiscovery, and archiving solutions built for local networks are no match for the exploding volumes of digital data. And further, that the right cloud provider can provide low-cost data storage and levels of protection that no local software installation can hope to match.

One of the most frequent requests Nextpoint has gotten from clients for a new feature is “offline mode,” for doing work when they can’t get online. While we are hyper-vigilant about responding to client requests, we’ve resisted this one change. That’s because it would defeat the advantage of offering cloud-based software. Working offline on a laptop or desktop, users lose the scalability and processing power that is available through our networked system. Working in one, shared data set means all changes are tracked and automatically updated for all users. And most importantly, working in the cloud offers security measures your laptop can never match. Our cloud computing applications never store data locally, always securing it in Amazon Web Services centers that are subjected to regular SAS 70 certification and supported by Amazon’s team of IT security experts.

There was a time when working alone on a laptop was the only option for litigators on the road or at the courthouse. Those days are long over. Courts have joined the networked world, and it’s time for all litigators to do the same.

Jason Krause

Jason Krause is a veteran of the legal technology industry with more than a dozen years of experience as a journalist covering eDiscovery. Prior to joining Nextpoint’s marketing department, Jason was a writer and reporter for the American Bar Association’s ABA Journal, where he was one of the first to recognize and report on the impact exploding volumes of evidence is having on litigation. He has also covered the industry as a freelance writer and independent marketing consultant for publications such as Law Technology News. Connect with Jason on Google Plus.

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