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.