2012: Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

I love that I can always count on starting the new year with a review of old news. 🙂  Everyone writes a “what happened last year” blog post and as an e-discovery trainer, it’s a fantastic way for me to summarize important points, events, lessons learned and cases from each year.

 

Here’s my list of favorites for 2012:

 

Essential Skills for E-Discovery Project Managers

Happy New Year!

Project Management has remained a popular topic in the e-discovery world for the last few years… I think 2013 will not be different. In fact, the upcoming Legal Tech NY trade show has dedicated at least one of its e-discovery track sessions on the next level of the e-discovery project management discussion: Process. Here’s an excerpt from the session description:

What is a Quality eDiscovery Process and How Do You Defend It?

The lack of formalized standards in eDiscovery poses challenges with respect to both methodology and defensibility. With the high stakes of litigation, growing expectations on the part of the judiciary, and the increasing frequency of spoliation motions, the components of the eDiscovery process continue to be susceptible to attack. As a result, litigants are often forced to focus on defense of their process, rather than the merits. Moreover, courts are frequently asked to evaluate the reasonableness of a particular process in retrospect, only after a party has made a significant investment in technology and resources. These issues should be considered and faced head on, from the inception of a matter.

An article from nearly a year ago supports the idea that the tools are not as important as the process.  It’s easy to focus our energy on the technology used to support e-discovery, but the real priority should be the process. As an e-discovery project manager, what are the essential skills that will empower you in 2013 to help your team stay focused on THE PROCESS?

  • Continuing Education – Look into a certificate program to formalize your project management skills and take advantage of online resources like webinars, blogs, podcasts that are specific to e-discovery.
  • Be the Change You Seek – Training is a great catalyst for change in your organization. If you want your team to focus on the e-discovery process, then develop internal training that is process oriented.  Many e-discovery project managers are also the defacto e-discovery project management “trainers” for their teams. It’s not enough to train your team to use the technology, they need to understand the process the technology supports. Training will allow you to gather input on creating “defensible processes while simultaneously increasing efficiency and reducing costs” in a tangible way that can be implemented immediately.
  • Marketing & Sales Skills – I wrote about this not too long ago. Your team will need you to be able to present, persuade, negotiate and justify proposed solutions.
  • Advisory Skills – You should be monitoring trends and emerging technologies to prepare yourself for the direction e-discovery is heading in 2013 and beyond. Review the articles, blog posts, podcasts and webinars that are plentiful right now discussing what worked and didn’t work in e-discovery in 2012 and that look toward the future in 2013. Be aware of what’s going in the industry so that you can advise your team when questions arise. You will be expected to play a role in recommending alternative solutions and strategies for both internal and external projects.
  • Technology – The beginning a any new e-discovery project is “all hands on deck” and if e-discovery technology is “new” to your firm, then some degree of experimentation with workflows may be necessary. You will need to know the ins/outs of the technology solutions available at your firm to make wise and informed choices as to how you will implement them to support the e-discovery process in your organization.

 

So as you explore your options to grow your e-discovery project management career in 2013, keep a close watch on your PROCESSES … their quality and defensibility. 

Learn About E-Discovery Project Management!

Live for 90 minutes on December 5th!

Register TODAY to join me online for a live training session

E-Discovery Project Management For Paralegals

Wednesday, December 05, 2012 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM (Eastern Time)

Save $20 using the discount code: erika20off

Are you actively looking for a way to advance your e-discovery career?

Are you seeking new skills or need to polish your area of expertise?

This course is for you!

Topics covered 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

•The 4 STAGES OF EDPM that every paralegal needs to know

•Managing virtual project teams

And I will also address the new attorney-centric EDBP in our discussion!

Don’t delay. Spaces are filling quickly! Join me live and online in an engaging environment open to asking questions and participating in the conversation. If you have a friend who is a litigation paralegal interested in making the transition to e-discovery project management, this session will provide a rare opportunity to learn e-discovery project management skills from an expert in the field of litigation support (if I may so humbly say so myself).

Marketing Litigation Support / E-Discovery In Your Organization

I used to teach a seminar on marketing litigation support within your law firm or corporate legal department. Over the past few years, this topic has come up a few times on the dynamic custom learning plans that I develop for individuals. A large part of being able to market your in-house services is to develop your sales skills. Here are 6 easy steps to follow for success:

1. Research the Customer

2. Deepen Your Understanding

3. Discover Where Your Customer Wants to Be

4. Decide Whether You Can Actually Help

5. Present Your Offering as a Solution

6. Ask for the Next Step

These steps are found in some shape or form in many sales training materials but I found them here. I highly recommend reading the article and checking out the book mentioned. Now, let’s discuss how to apply these steps to litigation support and/or e-discovery:

1. Know Your Customer. In a law firm, your customers are the attorneys and paralegals and the firm’s clients. In a corporation and government agency, your customers are the attorneys and paralegals plus any business or non-legal staff involved with the litigation project.  This could include the IT department if they are functioning separately from litigation support/ e-discovery.  Find out what their needs are and what is on their “wish list” when it comes to your services and technology options. Identify the folks who have a genuine interest in the technology and project management methodology and position them to be your advocates when you are not around. A good way to start your research is to send out a survey (no more than 7 questions) to gather information.

2. & 3. Be the Consultant. Review and draw conclusions from your survey results. Talk to your boss about the future of your department and the long range budget plans to give you an idea of what’s to come. You’ll need a little bit of HOPE to carry with you as you meet with your advocates to listen to their “wish list” and ideas. Ask open ended questions and share a little of the hope of what’s coming later.

4. Do NOT Over Promise! And risk under-delivering later… One of the challenges you may run into with your organization is that you don’t have a long range plan. And there is nothing to really look forward to because the overall strategy is to REACT then take action. If your firm buys software or technology based on client suggestions, then I suggest asking if you can talk to a few of your counter-parts at some of the firm’s key clients to gain a sense of where they are heading.  Then try to map out a plan for how you can support them long range. If you do have a long range outlook and plan for technology and service improvements, then fantastic!

5. Present Your Team As the Solution. Remember, you’re on THEIR team, too. You and your litigation support team are PARTNERING with the customer to support their litigation strategy. Draft a simple and short PowerPoint presentation that outlines your services, technology available, team members and function as a department within your organization. If you have enough people on your team, throw in a simple organizational chart. Add lots of pictures so that your customers will recognize you in the elevator. Include a simplified typical project intake and workflow model in your presentation. Save your presentation as a PDF and e-mail it to your advocates. Ask for their feedback. Make revisions if necessary. Request 15 minutes at the next litigation department meeting (to present in front of the attorneys and paralegals). Do this every 6 months or so.

6. Close the Deal. Here’s where marketing your litigation support team differs from simply selling a solution. You are a part of the organization. Sales gurus call this “inside sales.” You are marketing to “warm leads.” Part of the challenge over the years in marketing litigation support has been to make sure that your attorneys and paralegals not only know that you EXIST but what you exist FOR and HOW you can HELP them. When I was in the firm, I called it “hall surfing” … I would literally surf the halls on the litigation floors at least once per week. It looked more like I was taking my coffee break on another floor but there was a method to my madness. I would carve out 20 minutes of my day to sit with a notepad and pen in the break room and speak to whoever walked in for coffee. Mid to late afternoon was a great time because most folks needed their jolt to make it to the end of the day. Sometimes, “hello” / “how are you?” would work and other days, it was more specific about how’s their case going? May I offer some assistance?  These “breaks” might lead to impromptu meetings or conversations that would lead to influence, more technology advocates or basic trust necessary to successfully project manage their next big matter.

I hope these 6 steps help you to market your litigation technology solutions more effectively at your organization. Please let me know if you have questions. I am only an e-mail away 🙂

erika at learnaboutediscovery.com

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.

Introduction to E-Discovery: Technology (Part 4 of 5)

It’s pretty easy to execute a Google search on “e-discovery” and immediately become overwhelmed by the amazing volume of information available. Where should you begin reading? What’s fluff? What’s not? What’s educational? What’s marketing jargon? Over the next few weeks, we’re going to dedicate MONDAY mornings to reading about electronic discovery basics. Each week, look for a new post to learn about e-discovery without becoming overwhelmed.This  week, we continue our series on technology used to support e-discovery with a few resources for you to learn more about ESI Review & Analysis.

REVIEW

Definition

A good working definition for document review is a task completed by attorneys to determine which documents (electronic or paper) are going to be useful as the litigation matter moves forward.

EDRM definition

You may be tasked with managing a team of reviews… if that is the case, then read this, too.

Software

Most of the litigation technology software over the past 25 – 30 years has been developed to support this phase of litigation. It is not unique to e-discovery but electronically stored information was the catalyst for major new developments in litigation technology over the past decade or more. Here are a couple of the most recent examples and two of the traditional tools in today’s marketplace (this is not an endorsement of any tool…)

Traditional Option # 1 and Option# 2

Newbie #1 and Newbie #2

Discussion

The majority of the litigation budget is typically spent on the attorney review. This article discusses some of the ways to cut time and cost using technology.

ANALYSIS

Analysis can be a difficult term to define in our world as much of the technology has driven the definition in recent years. However, simply put, “analysis” is what the attorneys do when they review. In an effort to save time and trim costs, technology has developed to assess and analyze litigation data early in the case as well as later. The technology does NOT replace the attorney review. The courts are still inconsistent on whether or not to require the technology but seem to be leaning towards requiring it… And I always say: The tools are not as important as the process. Do not bet your whole case on the technology available. My two cents. That said, here’s some useful information about ESI Analysis (again, not an endorsement):

Definition

Software 

I hope this overview of ESI Review and Analysis has been helpful to you as you continue to explore and learn more about e-discovery!

If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at erika at learnaboutediscovery.com

Dare to Disagree

Critical and creative thinking are useful skills to have as an e-discovery project manager. Many of us avoid communication that we perceive will lead to conflict. However, daring to disagree in a thoughtful, constructive manner is useful in a collaborative environment like e-discovery project management. Do you have the patience or time or energy to find the best solution to the latest problem with your project? It’s not about winning the argument, it is about utilizing the very best of our communication skills while wearing our “thinking caps” so that it is a “win-win” for everyone on the team.

Here are a few resources for collaborating and working with a group like your litigation support or e-discovery project team:

 

 

How do you handle conflict or disagreements with your e-discovery team?

 

 

 

 

 

Are you going to ILTA?

Are you going to the ILTA conference this year? What do you hope to learn about e-discovery while you’re there?

Which one of the Litigation Support sessions at the upcoming ILTA conference are you looking forward to?

Which … E-Discovery sessions …?

The conference will be held in Washington, DC August 26 – 30, 2012. For more information click here.

http://conference.iltanet.org/

Introduction to E-Discovery

It’s pretty easy to execute a Google search on “e-discovery” and immediately become overwhelmed by the amazing volume of information available. Where should you begin reading? What’s fluff? What’s not? What’s educational? What’s marketing jargon? Over the next few weeks, we’re going to dedicate Monday mornings to reading about electronic discovery basics. Each week, look for a new post to learn about e-discovery without becoming overwhelmed.

Let’s begin:

Start with this 2008 article from FindLaw.com

Download this PDF for a collection of articles written by US Government attorneys

The industry “standard” workflows and protocols are all generally based off of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model found at www.edrm.net

 

Learning about electronic discovery always begins with covering the basics. Build a strong foundation of knowledge to support what comes next in your learning journey.

PRM – The Paralegal Journal

Did you see my article in the latest issue of The Paralegal Journal?

The Paralegal Journal provides readers with insightful, pertinent and thought-provoking information to inspire career growth and advance the paralegal profession. Sometimes in order to truly excel, we have to push the envelope a little. THIS MAGAZINE WILL DO THAT! Don’t miss a single issue! Subscribe now!