Conducting an eDiscovery Project: Three Foundational Elements for Success
When people think about the most costly and potentially burdensome aspects of civil matters in the United States, they often cite the costs and challenges of trials to either a jury or judge. And they are partially correct – going to trial is incredibly time consuming and expensive. But it’s also true that very few civil matters make it all the way to trial anymore.
On the other hand, nearly every civil matter – not to mention nearly every subpoena response or investigatory matter – involves the processing, review, and analysis of electronically stored information (or ESI). And such aspects of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (or EDRM) – as represented by the blue pillar in the middle of the graphic below – are by far the most costly and complicated aspects of the pretrial discovery process.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve provided considerations to ensure that the important tasks of identifying, preserving, and collecting potentially relevant ESI go well. Today, I continue my walkthrough of the major steps in the EDRM with an interview of my friend and fellow Level 2 Legal colleague, Daniel Bonner. Daniel, a Consulting Director at Level 2 Legal, has more than 100 managed review projects under his belt for a range of clients, from Fortune 50 corporations to AmLaw 100 firms. There’s little on the managed review front that Daniel hasn’t seen or done.
“When talking with clients about the processing, review, and analysis components of the EDRM, I often make an analogy to a three-legged stool,” Daniel said. “To achieve success, you have to start with a comprehensive plan that takes into account the three supports of the stool, namely the team, the data, and the deadlines.” Daniel went on to describe, “without a proper plan focused on each of these components, your project will be off balance from the start, and you’ll be headed for trouble that likely could have been avoided.”
- The Team. Lack of planning and responsiveness, inconsistent and poor work product, and lack of commitment and missed deadlines are all team problems. As Daniel put it, “you might have the most sophisticated process, plan, and technology at your disposal, but expect to remain frustrated until you address the deficiencies in your team.”
- The Data. Properly deployed, technology-assisted review and similar systems can provide significant initial results. But very often there are still significant dataset reductions and efficiencies waiting to be identified. As Daniel likes to put it, “if your managed review team isn’t presenting you with additional dataset reduction opportunities – after technology has been used – you’re very likely paying to review data that doesn’t need to be reviewed.”
- The Deadlines. Aggressive deadlines are a part of eDiscovery. Daniel shared three tips for handling them. First, “start your planning in reverse – work backward from a final deadline and set realistic milestones for each critical task.” Second, “stress test your system, team, and processes before the final push.” And third – and perhaps most importantly – “the right team, and the right approach to the data, will make aggressive deadlines immediately more manageable.”
At Level 2 Legal, we strive to be a seamless extension of our client’s legal team – with no agenda but to understand precisely what our clients need so we can create and implement services that efficiently, consistently, and affordably meet those needs. Unlike most eDiscovery shops, our team members are valued employees – not nameless, faceless contract attorneys who leave when a project ends. In fact, some of our team members have been with us for five or more years, something that is virtually unheard of in our industry.
When it comes to defensible data and deadline management, our clients trust our Dataset Reduction Services and Advanced Workflow Management because they have benefited consistently from the results. We actively seek and find every record that does not need reviewing, and we pass this cost and time savings to the client – even when it means we give up billable time.
The eDiscovery consulting practice at Level 2 Legal welcomes the opportunity to advise attorneys, paraprofessionals, technologists, and their clients concerning all aspects of litigation readiness and the EDRM, especially including the processing, review, and analysis of ESI and other materials. Get in touch with us to learn more.
Chris Schultz serves as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Level 2 Legal Solutions. In addition to serving as the chief legal officer, Chris helps coordinate all aspects of the company’s managed review and corporate compliance projects. He also leads engagement teams assisting clients with a full range of electronic discovery and litigation readiness projects. In addition, Chris is available to provide clients with expert testimony and special discovery master services. A dynamic speaker with more than five years of college-level teaching experience, Chris is a frequent presenter of continuing legal education and other seminars concerning eDiscovery.
Daniel Bonner serves as Consulting Director of Level 2 Legal Solutions. Regardless of the project, Daniel brings his legal experience, craftsmanship, and precision to every case he manages. Daniel has handled dozens of review projects for some of the largest companies in the world. His honest, earnest commitment to giving our clients creative, consistent solutions keeps them coming back.