5 Lessons on Evolved e-Discovery (and One Surprisingly In-demand Skill)

Today’s e-discovery professionals are a diverse bunch, spanning the spectrum from IT and infrastructure gurus to litigation support masterminds to tech-savvy attorneys.

Throughout 2015, these experts have provided key takeaways here on the Relativity blog regarding how today’s e-discovery demands can best be met with evolving skill sets. Here’s a quick recap of some of the lessons we’ve learned so far.


Lesson #1: Getting buy-in for your strategy can be tough, but education can help.

110615_angela-green_120x120"e-Discovery is a customer service industry, and at the end of the day, our goal is to help people. The more we can teach people by demonstrating how we can use technology to help them, the more success we’ll have."

—Angela Green, deputy director of the Mega Litigation Support Team at Leidos


Lesson #2: Litigators are being held to higher standards of awareness when it comes to e-discovery and ESI.

110615_maureen-oneill_120x120"Large volumes of potentially relevant ESI make it exceedingly difficult to efficiently identify and collect what’s needed for discovery. The demands of modern litigation are forcing lawyers to up their game when it comes to ESI."

—Maureen O'Neill, senior vice president of discovery strategy (west) at DiscoverReady


Lesson #3: The sooner an aspiring e-discovery practitioner dives into the workflows and technologies defining today’s legal landscape, the better.

110615_adam-bottner_120x120_1"I would be neglecting my duty as a legal educator if I didn’t teach my students e-discovery because it is such an important part of law."

—Adam Bottner, adjunct professor at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law


Lesson #4: When it comes to litigation support, don’t be afraid to market your skills internally.

110615_joe-panzarella_120x120"We have a responsibility to market ourselves to our internal folks so they know how they can rely on our team. Often there are practice groups with e-discovery needs they don’t know they have, and it’s our job to make them aware of the services we can provide."

—Joe Panzarella, director of e-discovery, litigation support, and information governance at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP


Lesson #5: Even the most successful attorneys can enrich their practices by diving head-first into big data.

110615_bennett-borden_120x120"There’s not one area of law that can’t be made better by the use of data and analytics."

—Bennett Borden, chief data scientist at Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP


Bonus: One In-demand Skill That May Surprise You

All of this advice has proven effective in the field, as case teams are tackling bigger, more challenging projects—and winning. So how are litigation support experts further honing their skills to tackle an ever-evolving market?

At Relativity Fest last month, we saw the impact of a new—and perhaps unexpected—skill set. In their efforts to do more for case teams and handle big data more confidently, today’s e-discovery practitioners are creating their own sophisticated solutions to tackle some of the toughest challenges in the industry.

They’re not taking technology by the horns—they’re taking it by the reins and guiding it to where they want it to go.

And we’re not the only ones noticing this trend. In an article for Legaltech News, Steve Fleming, CTO of Opus 2, noted Relativity as a “massive enabler for law firm clients and service providers to mesh together tighter, more cohesive solutions for end users.

This trend of case teams creating workflows and applications has made it easy to see that the number of experts developing and investing in this skill set is growing. During our developer sessions at Relativity Fest, attendees had a lot to say about the benefits of building their development skills for better e-discovery:

“I came to this session because I actually want to learn about coding. I'm a lawyer and I manage the legal discovery projects, and this is becoming relevant to my day-to-day job.”
“The more people can code, the better we can understand why things break. Knowing this stuff is already tangential to my job.”
“There's a lot of possibility in the platform and, more importantly, a lot of opportunity for sharing what works between case teams.”
And the interest wasn’t isolated to the conference. The 2015 Relativity Innovation Awards—a celebration of the awesome applications and integrations that the community has built on the platform—saw more than 4,000 votes cast for the Community Choice category. Two blog posts about the finalists and winners ( here and here) garnered more views than any other posts from Relativity Fest.

All of this tells us that e-discovery teams everywhere are delivering on the demand for new and rapidly evolving skill sets to do their best work. And it’s not just that: they’re also hungry for more ways to innovate in this field and improve day-to-day work.

What kind of innovation—of skills or technology—has had an impact on your team’s workflows this year? Let us know in the comments.

Sam Bock is a member of the marketing communications team at kCura, and serves as editor of the Relativity blog.