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5 Steps to Raising Your Team's e-Discovery IQ

Stan Pierson

Now more than ever, litigation readiness and e-discovery are big initiatives that require an in-depth understanding of new processes and technologies. The explosion of electronically stored information has simply made it impossible to manage litigation, internal investigations, and government requests without this insight.

While your in-house legal team is already busy staying on top of intellectual property, monitoring case law, managing compliance, and more, how can you also stay ahead of the curve in e-discovery? Break it down into five steps:

Checklist ItemStep #1: Partner up.

Some service providers and law firms have been in this space since before discovery became electronic. A wealth of knowledge is available to you through partners you may already know and trust. Whether you’re outsourcing, seeking consultation, or using a managed services arrangement, simple conversations with experienced partners are a great way to begin educating your team without requiring any extra resources. By asking questions and staying up to date on what’s happening in e-discovery technology and the courts, you can add your business’s unique insight to theirs and better manage your projects.

Checklist ItemStep #2: Hire for expertise.

Expect and encourage software certifications among your team as well as your partners. Project managers with PMP and JD designations, case strategists with backgrounds as litigators, and staff with e-discovery certifications add tremendous value in ramping up information management and e-discovery initiatives and ensuring projects stay on track. There are a number of both process- and product-specific certifications for e-discovery. Higher education institutions like Bryan University and Georgetown Law offer e-discovery specific programs, as do groups like ACEDS and the Organization of Legal Professionals. You can also learn more about Relativity-specific certifications on this page, and get a high-level look at them in this recent blog post.

Checklist ItemStep #3: Build a training program.

Understanding the technologies at the heart of e-discovery is critical to building your team’s strategy. Most of us are visual and hands-on learners, so while reading white papers and brochures is a great start, in-person experiences and exercises with real-life scenarios will make your knowledge more practical. Seek out trainings and conferences that you can use to curate content for your team without needing to create your own. We’ll follow up soon with a post on adult learning principles to consider when building your program, but in the meantime check out this article from our chief people officer for more tips on internal learning initiatives.

Checklist ItemStep #4: Communicate early and often.

It’s easy to close your office door, call your service provider or external counsel, and focus on a short-turnaround project, but e-discovery practices require buy-in from stakeholders across the organization if one of your goals is to minimize risk. In addition to the legal department, your IT, RIM, HR, and executive teams will have input that could influence your strategies. As you bring more knowledge to the table and build your best practices, check in often to make sure your plans reflect your business objectives.

Checklist ItemStep #5: Find technology that spans the EDRM and facilitates cross-departmental collaboration.

A tightly integrated software platform can help you build bridges between departments as well as the various stages of e-discovery. Even if your legal hold workflows start in HR, collection and processing move to IT, and review and analysis bring the project to the legal team’s plate, giving everyone the same platform won’t just keep you on the same page, it will help your teams share knowledge and assemble new insights into your data.