The Georgetown Advanced eDiscovery Institute

The Advanced eDiscovery Institute

A continuing education program by Georgetown Law School

This year the program was held December 6 & 7

The agenda and roster of speakers can be found here.

This conference is considered one of the most highly regarded e-discovery learning events of the year.  Learn something new about e-discovery today by reviewing the blogs and articles below:

Exterro’s E-Discovery Beat Blog live blogged notes from the conference

Other notes & blogs summarizing the learning experience

Is your job slowing down your career growth?

Many of us can become pretty complacent in our jobs assuming that our employer will send us to training or provide educational opportunities from time to time. How many of us take it upon ourselves to explore career training opportunities beyond those offered by our employers? I was reading my Twitter page a little while ago when I saw this tweet:

Are You Making Your Employees Stupid? http://bit.ly/RjnPMt 

A quick scan of the article referenced and the statistics made me think… is your job slowing down your career growth? Don’t miss out on improving your skills just because your employer does not value training. It doesn’t mean they don’t value you… they may be one of the statistics mentioned in the article who doesn’t realize that on-the-job experience is not enough to keep up in today’s e-discovery market.

If you are an employer, what are you going to do today to avoid becoming a statistic?

(*hint*)

If you are looking to build your e-discovery project management skills, check out this on-demand presentation I did a few months ago or simply, keep reading this blog.

Learning About Data Maps

Most data maps or content maps or “who-knows-where-the-data-is” diagrams are anywhere from 9 to 18 months out of date.  Any IT network manager will tell you that creating a diagram of everything on the company network is not a fun or easy activity. Add to that the litigator’s need to know who has/had access to potentially discoverable information and the size of the task more than doubles. Today, we fortunately have tools that help automate parts or all of this but how effective those tools are depends on a lot of variables. Our interest now is to provide a few resources and definitions to help you begin conversations with your e-discovery team about data mapping.

E-Discovery attorneys, project managers and paralegals will want to become familiar with their client’s data map as early as possible in a litigation matter.  If you’re the e-discovery liaison for a corporation, you will be want to be very familiar with your organization’s network data map.  According to the Electronic Discovery Reference Model, here’s what you need to know about data maps:

You can’t secure it if you can’t find it. An essential component to a successful electronic discovery project is an accurate picture of the target company’s data sources. It is important to keep in mind that all company information technology infrastructures are not created equal. The hardware and software deployed to accomplish commonplace tasks such as managing company e-mail or creating data backups, varies widely from organization to organization. Indeed, it likely varies within the target company if the timeframe in question is broad enough, or if the company is widely distributed in various geographic locations.

This identification process implicates many types of servers with active and dynamic data (e.g. file servers, collaboration servers, e-mail servers) and many interrelated data management systems (e.g. document management systems, financial systems, disaster recovery and backup systems). This includes servers responsible for general company data, as well as user specific data, such as user home directories or departmental shared directories. It also includes the myriad of devices that users employ to utilize that data, including desktop computers, photocopiers, calendars, Instant Messaging (IM), text, PDA’s and cell phones, smart phones, and memory cards. Lastly, it implicates inactive data archives on various media such as hard drives, servers, recycle bins, tape backups, flash drives, CD-ROMs and DVDs. All of this is further complicated by the fact that legacy data, potentially across all these categories, may exist from previous company systems within the relevant time period. The necessary hardware, software or technical expertise to access such legacy data may no longer exist within the target company.

Additionally, I would add the following resources for learning about e-discovery data maps to your reading:

ESI Data Mapping Resources

Best Practices

And if you are an information governance or records management professional, then you may find this resource helpful, too:

Five Free Apps for Diagramming Your Network

The New Normal – Why you should learn about e-discovery

Why do you need to learn more about e-discovery? Your workplace or your client’s workplace is changing. Or has changed. E-discovery project management is the new normal. In fact, e-discovery has been around longer than you think…

Here’s why you should take the time to learn more about e-discovery (adapted from a recent article on integrating e-discovery into normal operations):

  1. Electronic Discovery can be complicated and has created the need to streamline the process and standardize workflow management for defensibility.
  2. Electronic Discovery exposes organizations to a greater risk when repeatable processes are not implemented. According to most industry think tanks, including The Sedona Conference, the best way to reduce risk in e-discovery is through implementing basic project management processes and methodologies.
  3. Between 1995 – 2000, most businesses made the transition from paper to digital in all communications and record-keeping. In 1970, the FRCP included digital documents in their definition of what was discoverable. In 2006, the FRCP revised their rules to specifically reference ESI (electronically stored information), to include documents that were stored, created and used in an electronic or digital format. To be clear, not a lot of businesses managed their information digitally until the late 1990s so the great unmanageable volume explosion that sparked the broader industry interest in e-discovery didn’t show up in litigation matters until a few years later. However, in larger litigation matters, the problem existed by the late 1990s as described in a 1999 article by Ken Withers. The December 2006 FRCP update simply updated the “wording” of the rule that had been in place since 1970 regarding the definition of a document. So I guess, our new normal is really our old normal?
  4. The data explosion is a problem for those who are/were not managing their data well. The downturn in the economy only exacerbated this issue as the unruly data stores found themselves a part of duty to preserve order and discoverable in litigation. Corporate legal department budgets are under increased scrutiny and now are required to follow the same project management methods other business units have followed for years to manage expenses and deliverables. How do we reign in the cost to move discoverable electronically stored information through the discovery machine? Two words: project management.

E-Discovery does not have to be complicated. Learning about e-discovery does not have to be complicated. It simply requires some time and thought on the front end to draw a map that clearly states what needs to be done, when and by whom. Then do it. And keep track of what is being done so that the next time, you are not reinventing the wheel.  Creating and developing a standard operational process for your organization will involve learning about each phase of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) so that you know what needs to be done at a minimum and in the “big picture” sense for each phase.  It’s next to impossible to effectively participate in a conversation about which approach your organization should take in developing or following a standard if you really do not have a clear understanding of e-discovery basics.  It’s both case law and technology. You should learn about e-discovery because the “new normal” in today’s litigation practice requires you to project manage discovery in a way that reduces risk, is defensible and allows your team of great legal minds to focus on strategy and the merits of the case.

 

Finding the Solution Outside of the Box

“Think outside the box.”

As sayings go, it’s probably over used and you probably do not think much about it when you actually have a problem to solve. Recently, an industry report pointed out how challenging it is to find and hire e-discovery professionals with good (or better) problem solving skills.  Electronic discovery projects present new and interesting problems so it is pretty important to learn effective problem solving as you learn about e-discovery. This week, I’d like for you to try this problem solving exercise… let me know how you do in the comments.

 

 

Now Available On-Demand – E-Discovery Project Management Training

Did you miss the live online class we offered a couple of months ago? No worries, it’s now available on-demand.

E-Discovery Project Management On-Demand Training – Litigation Paralegal Bootcamp

AGENDA TOPICS INCLUDE:

•Project Management Methodologies: Which will work for your next e-discovery project?

•Role of a Project Manager

•What does it take to transition from senior paralegal to e-discovery project manager?

•What Should Be in Your Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

•Outline of Best Practices for Each Phase of Your SOP

•EDPM Responsibility Matrix, Planning Resources and Budgeting

 

This course is only 90 minutes and can be completed on your lunch hour.

 

Being the Project Manager

Last year, you were a “Litigation Technology Specialist” … this year, you have a new job and you are an “E-Discovery Project Manager.” Your old job required you to rely heavily upon your technology expertise and your experience with litigation database management. You are now at a new firm leading a team of technology experts. You must resist the urge to jump in and take over their technology tasks and focus on your role as the project manager. This idea was described very well on the Project Management Institute’s blog this week:

Many project managers work in two common extremes: process focus or technical detail focus. This is common for junior project managers and for project managers who are new to an organization. That often happens, in my opinion, because those project managers haven’t developed their management style yet or haven’t adjusted to the organizational culture.

When the project manager thinks something is going wrong on a project, either with how someone is performing a task or the results of a deliverable, we often try to fix it. We do that with our strongest toolkit — usually, that’s our technical background. We often take over and hijack the task just to do it “our way,” based on our experience.

Your vast knowledge of litigation technology and your understanding of the e-discovery workflow your project sponsors wish to implement is why you are the project manager.  You have big picture perspective. Focus on the project deliverables. Be clear in your management approach to managing the available resources. Try to remember what it was like last year when you were one of them…

 

 

LTNY 2012 in Review

Learning about electronic discovery includes keeping up to date with the latest technology and practice trends in our field. Legal Tech New York 2012 was this year’s first major trade show and conference. Here are a few of the top blog posts & articles covering the event:

Apersee

E-Discovery Journal

E- Discovery Daily

E-discovery Beat

Legal Talk Network – podcast 1 and podcast 2

eDisclosure Information Project

Discovery Resources

Predictive coding dominated the sessions. Most agreed that it is coming – you should be prepared – but even the most enthusiastic advocates cautioned it does not necessarily replace humans. Two primary drivers for adoption emerged: 1) skyrocketing costs associated with human review teams, especially when data volumes are very large; and 2) superior accuracy of technology-assisted review, which is not susceptible to the random errors and inconsistencies of humans, and which can identify and remediate inaccuracies through a process of iteration.

In addition to the excitement about predictive coding, cloud-based data and ECA were also hot topics. Another common theme might be summed up with the phrase “methodology matters” – that is, business process is critical and must be well understood before you can make real progress in improving efficiency and controlling costs.

My new favorite phrase is “methodology matters” to describe what is essentially project management. Technology is great but if your business process is lacking, then you might as well plan on wasting a lot of time and money.  And by now, you can tell that the other major topic at LTNY this year was predictive coding (also known as computer assisted coding).

What did you learn about e-discovery at this year’s show? What changes to your practice are you making since you returned from NY?

EDPM: Managing Expectations

The tools are not as important as the process. Technology can only take your project so far as seen in Thorncreek Apartments III, LLC v. Village of Park Forest.

Village mistakenly uploaded 159 privileged documents for Thorncreek as part of the production, which included every document marked as privileged, as it expected Kroll’s software to automatically withhold privileged documents.

The emphasis on the word EXPECTED is mine. Technology does not run on its own… it needs people. Technology needs project managers who understand what the technology can and can not and/or should and should not do. Technology and project managers both need project stakeholders (i.e. attorneys & paralegals/ clients) who will take the time to listen and understand that we must work together to effectively plan for quality control and then take the time to actually do the quality checks before productions.  However, as noted in the quote below from a law firm’s blog, e-discovery project management is a TEAM effort and a single person probably should not have been expected to do everything themselves.

In analyzing whether Village waived its claim of privilege with respect to six inadvertently produced documents, the Court noted that simply marking documents as “responsive,” “non-responsive” and “privileged” falls “well short of what we would expect for an adequate account of the review procedure.” Village argued that its efforts to protect against waiver were reasonable because it believed that by marking the documents as “privileged’ in Kroll’s online platform, they would be automatically withheld. However, the Court found that Village employed only a single attorney to review the documents to be produced and Village failed to review the documents uploaded for Thorncreek to view for nine months. Finally, the Court cited the lack of a privilege log in finding that Village did not act reasonably to protect its claim of privilege. In doing so, the court held that Village waived privilege to the six documents.

Here are a few other online resources that discuss what went wrong with this case…remember: The tools are not as important as the process.  It’s not that there is anything wrong with online review … the issue here is that the project management methodology was lacking the step for quality control and understanding of the technology (tools) being used.

Defendants’ “Completely Ineffective” Review Procedure and Failure to Rectify the Inadvertent Disclosure in a Timely Way Results in Finding of Waiver : Electronic Discovery Law.

Don’t blame your vendor.

This article offers some practical tips for managing expectations:

  1. communicate clearly with vendors, don’t “assume” that documents marked “privileged” will be withheld from the production – tell the vendor to withhold them (even if the vendor is an experienced litigation support vendor);
  2. produce a privilege log early on and deliver it to the opposing counsel – if a document on the privilege log is in the production set, and opposing counsel discovers that, s/he will be obligated to inform you;
  3. better yet, use your privilege log to spot-check the vendor to assure that documents marked “privileged” are, in fact, withheld from the production;
  4. even if you are in the throes of a busy deposition schedule, when you learn of an inadvertent disclosure, act quickly to identify the scope of the problem and request the return of privileged documents.