What’s one of your biggest work challenges? I recently posed that question to my fellow board members of the Indianapolis chapter of Women in eDiscovery. The responses are crowdsourced insights into day-to-day eDiscovery practice at law firms, service providers and corporations.
eDiscovery is about technology and data – and people, too
Kristen Atteberry, CEDS is Sr. Legal Technology Consultant for Tritura, a Faegre Drinker company. She summed up her challenge this way: How do I best communicate the value of litigation support services to case teams and clients before (not after) something goes wrong? Many cost-conscious clients seek to avoid incurring discovery fees early in the case. This usually proves a false economy since involving eDiscovery practitioners in assessment, planning and negotiations heads off many avoidable – and costly – problems.
The project manager in our group similarly emphasized the importance of good communication between case teams and their service providers. Stacey Sims is an eDiscovery Project Manager for Xact Data Discovery. Her preferred practice is to set up protocols and production format early in the project, or at least well in advance of production deadlines; however, she often has to work to get the information she needs on a tight turnaround instead. This is inefficient and risks causing production delays.
Some challenges are year in, year out. As Manager of Operations for The Gnoesis Group’s Indianapolis office, Krista Brueggemann recruits document review attorneys for managed review projects. Her biggest challenge is finding qualified candidates. Document review experience is only one requirement. The adage “project management is people management” came to mind as she talked about screening for the soft skills that make good team players.
Communication meets data management on the left side of the EDRM
Melissa Hamer-Bailey put a spotlight on the everyday challenges of working with clients on data collection. As an associate at Norris Choplin Schroeder LLP, Melissa focuses on environmental and construction litigation. Many individual clients are reluctant to provide device and account access because of privacy concerns while (nearly) all custodians hate turning over their phones for the same reason. Legal requirements, privacy protections and client counseling come together at the collection stage.
Carolyn Young reminded us that business doesn’t stop for litigation. Carolyn is Director, eDiscovery Consulting for Consilio LLC where she manages long-term legal technology implementation projects for corporations. Legal holds and compliance requirements make data migrations even more complex and difficult than they otherwise would be. She must work with IT/IS to evaluate and monitor changes to system access, searching and data management.
My practice at Hoover Hull Turner LLP is focused on eDiscovery in business litigation. One of my biggest challenges is the proliferation of data sources and types. Consumer technology is constantly changing while eDiscovery technology races to keep up. The result is a twofold challenge of identification followed by evaluation of legal technology solutions for emerging data types. Corporate America’s lockdown-driven adoption of collaboration tools is the perfect example.
Identifying the problem is the first step
The first step in problem solving is identifying the problem. My question about everyday eDiscovery practice challenges elicited six varied answers. Interestingly, the common thread was the need for more effective communication.
Professional organizations of all stripes provide valuable opportunities for education and networking. Groups like Women in eDiscovery and The Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists that cut across job lines offer added value for eDiscovery practitioners. By bringing together litigation support professionals, lawyers, paralegals and consultants, they break down silos and foster collaboration.