Friday, August 12, 2005

Building e-Discovery Teams

There has been tremendous coverage, almost ad nauseam, about e-discovery issues lately. Vendors are popping up all over the globe to process data, on-line review tools are being heavily touted and more additional forums are now available to 'get religion' on e-discovery.

What I find to be disturbing is that very few people are talking about how to practically apply and disseminate this information within their firm. All the software in the world won't prevent a lawyer from accepting discovery via e-mail and expose themselves and their firm to potential spoliation. The best e-discovery processing tools can't ensure that the collection efforts are solid. In a word, we need to educate.

What firms need to do is take a slightly more proactive approach to this issue. Getting your lit support staff and a couple lawyers trained will not be enough. Look to go deeper and the results will be amazing:

  • Build an e-discovery team composed of Partners, Associates, Paralegals, Lit Support and IT.
  • Be sure that you have someone from each office and practice group that handle litigation on the team - you want geographic and practice area coverage. Some lawyers will want to deal with someone 'down the hall', others will want someone who knows their practice.
  • Put them through a certification program, Kroll and Applied Discovery both have excellent ones.
  • Commit to meeting monthly to discuss new updates in case law, technology available and any real life situations in your firm.
  • Once the team is up to speed, go about educating the rest of the firm - don't stop with your team. Setup an office-by-office road show, buy lunch and invite all your litigators and paralegals for 1-2 hour overview of the key issues.
  • Publish regular newsletters on e-discovery.
  • Create a page on your firm's intranet with practice guidelines, checklists, form documents and other on-line resources so that any lawyer can get some basic information in a pinch.
  • Some firms even have e-discovery blogs they maintain.

Once you've gotten to this point, you've not only taken precautions to help your firm avoid e-discovery liability, but you'll be well on your way to creating competitive advantage for your firm.