Ray Tomlinson sent the first email in 1971. Email replaced its predecessors, fax machines, and letters. But in 2023, it is email that is becoming increasingly obsolete. Today, chat platforms like Salesforce’s Slack are becoming the preferred mode of communication in many businesses, signaling a shift from the traditional email-centric approach.
When email fundamentally changed how humans communicated, the practice of law had to adapt. Today, it must do the same for chat services like Slack. The messaging app has ballooned to 42.7 million daily users as of 2023, gaining acclaim as a much-desired email alternative.
However, despite the increasing relevance of Slack data in disputes – like in this case where the FTC sued America Future Systems and demanded their Slack messages – legal tech software has only recently included functionality supportive of expeditious review and production of Slack data.
The shift to Slack does more than change how legal tech companies operate—Slack benefits first and foremost, employees.
Slack makes us more honest
First, the more informal nature of messaging apps can lead to more candid conversations, which younger workers who repudiate stuffy office culture lean towards.
Slack helps make things more open at work, bringing employees closer together. In one case, workers used Slack to organize interventions against their employer, Andela. Generally, Slack appeals to younger people, like Millennials and Gen Z, who don't like strict formality at work. And it helps these groups speak up and confront management.
Slack connects us to global workspaces
A second cause for the change is the rise in asynchronous work, resulting from the increased adoption of remote work and office globalization. As of 2023, 66% of American companies with 50 or more employees outsourced their labor.
Further, speaking to the lasting implications of the pandemic on remote work, a recent study found that half of the biggest global companies intend to reduce their office space. Employees working remotely and more flexibly required a secure messaging service that could both replace water cooler chat and make work communication seamless. Thus came Slack.
Slack makes us better workers
Slack filled a market gap but also managed to win the hearts of its users.
According to company surveys led by Kelton Global, 87% of Slack users say it makes them more productive, and 88% said it keeps them in the loop with coworkers, among a slew of other positive customer satisfaction metrics.
A surprising positive impact of Slack on its users is creating a more positive work environment for women. Indeed, many women say it removes the gendered pressures of the workplace—a felt need for formal posturing replaced by a dancing penguin reaction or the like.
How does Slack change the ediscovery process?
The shifting of workplace communications towards messaging platforms like Slack has significant consequences for the discovery process – which changes lawyers' expectations for their Ediscovery software partners.
For one, messaging data changes the nature of what constitutes a document. How does a Slack channel with 20 people chatting about business practices over two years translate to the concept of a document? Processing Slack and other chat data requires a recalibration of the Ediscovery process built to intake documents.
The complexity of Slack data ingestion also stems from the diverse data types Slack stores: GIFS, links, texts, reactions, etc. Slack also constantly changes by integrating with existing apps and allowing users to create their own apps. The state of constant improvement that Slack embodies makes crafting a singular approach to ingesting and producing its data complicated.
Further, given the continuous nature of Slack chats, finding related conversations can prove difficult in their original form. Searching through an entire Slack channel would be tedious and incredibly time-consuming. There needed to be more organization in the Discovery phase.
With this in mind, DISCO engineers grappled with how users could ingest, review, and produce Slack chat stream data in a way that made sense. We settled on the following: creating documents based on 24-hour cycles in a single channel, direct message set, thread, or group message set. Users can access files in a near-native format, meaning the interface is intuitive and looks like Slack! We used conversations to bind a channel, similar to how we manage an email chain.
While we continue to provide user-supported Slack ingest through services, the process of ingesting and producing Slack chat stream data is now self-serviceable through this update. After exporting their Slack data files directly into DISCO ingest, users can browse through Slack categories like they would an email or other document, de-duplicate, choose whether to download attachments, handle exceptions, and more. Check out our knowledge base article to learn more about Slack chat streams and how to use it.
How we do it in DISCO Hold
In addition to Ediscovery, we’ve made developments across the Discovery lifecycle to incorporate Slack data. We realized Slack hold-and-collect incorporation was crucial for our clients, so it was one of our first moves toward end-to-end Slack support.
Through Slack hold and collect, DISCO helps preserve Slack data pertinent to a matter. With preview, take a peek at collected data from Slack and only export what is needed for review. Then, through just one click, preserve your data in space, eliminating the need for storage in third-party archives. And fear not; the process is safe—comprehensive audit logs and automated reporting help to ensure an entirely defensible legal hold policy and alignment with stakeholders.
If you’d like to speak about any of these features more in-depth, we are happy to help! Kindly reach out to our product team for more information.