The Elements of What eDiscovery Should Be

So what are we suggesting?

We have covered a lot of ground over the past five LeanDiscoveryTM blogs (and our one guest blog). Let’s pause to consider how the concepts we’ve discussed enable us to address what our collective expectations for eDiscovery should be. If you are new to this conversation, this will summarize where we have been so far.

Our core mission as an eDiscovery team is simple: to enable better client outcomes. That is our singular goal for effective eDiscovery and should be what our clients expect. To enable better client outcomes, we rely on three interrelated principles: strong foundation, (process and project management); coordinated teamwork (experience and concentration); and clear value (getting beyond compliance).

Strong Foundation

The foundation of our eDiscovery thinking consists of two simple truths: (1) eDiscovery requires a repeatable process, and (2) the eDiscovery process must be led by an experienced ED-PM (eDiscovery Project Manager).  These truths facilitate the “document review factory.”  EDiscovery without process maturity and project management inevitably results in wasted effort, excessive cost and longer lead times.

Process is King. Process is a clear roadmap to enable an effective eDiscovery project. It sets a baseline standard that is followed consistently. A standard sequence of tasks can be improved over time and allows work product to be leveraged more effectively matter-over-matter. Process enables effective integration of the multiple specialized teams that perform eDiscovery tasks. Clear and documented process is the foundation of all our eDiscovery case management, and frees up the resources needed to deliver better client outcomes. Read more about process here.

The ED-PM enables the process. A written process is a good start, but it can’t reduce cost or increase value unless it’s tailored to a specific matter and actively managed. The ED-PM bears the ultimate responsibility for ensuring each project meets the client’s and trial team’s expectations, proceeds in a clearly-defined sequence, stays within budget and manages all deadlines. This role cannot be performed successfully by someone with little or no formal project management training and experience. EDiscovery requires the simultaneous coordination of multiple teams to execute a common, tightly integrated plan. It requires a professional project manager experienced with eDiscovery and proficient with the defined eDiscovery process. Read more about our project management philosophy here.

Coordinated Teamwork

Layered on top of process and project management are the principles by which the eDiscovery team integrates directly with the trial team. The eDiscovery team is not effective sitting on the bench and watching from the sidelines as key eDiscovery decisions get deferred (and costs increase). Rather, eDiscovery requires a concentration of experience, and engagement of the right resources, to ensure the entire process enables better client outcomes.

Experience empowers judgment. Process provides a framework and the PM effective implementation. However, eDiscovery greatly benefits from good judgment based on ample experience. We call this “eDiscovery muscle memory,” and it gets better – far better – with more practice. We believe that the best judgment is brought to bear for the client’s benefit by having experience concentrated, on all parts of the process. By being able to “see over the hill,” the likelihood of creative solutions to facilitate better outcomes is greatly increased. Experience matters in eDiscovery, just as it does in virtually every area of the law. Read more about our experience philosophy here.

Engagement of the right resources concentrates the trial team. With process, project management and eDiscovery experience, the trial team becomes maximally empowered to singularly focus on the litigation strategy itself. It is free to focus on the things that are important, including the dispositionally important documents. This freedom ensures better client outcomes by focusing the case team on the things that matter most to the case outcome. The eDiscovery team must be an extension of the trial team. You can read more about how we do it here.

Clear Value

As we’ve seen, the effective integration of a repeatable process, project management, legal expertise, broad eDiscovery experience and focused concentration provides an opportunity to create client value.

Clients should demand exceptional value from their eDiscovery projects. Compliance should be a required characteristic of eDiscovery; not the goal. From a value perspective, eDiscovery is where the case story is discovered. EDiscovery obviously needs to cost less, but without better legal outcomes, eDiscovery seems like a compliance expense and an attendant diversion of the trial team’s focus. Trial teams should receive the key documents faster, organized to reveal the case narrative. We need more than compliance – we need value. Read more about our value-thinking here.

The success of our LeanDiscoveryTM method in reducing eDiscovery cost and delivering better legal outcomes is enabled by a strong foundation, coordinated teamwork and clear value.