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An Ace Matchup: Baseball Skills Every e-Discovery Pro Needs

Kristy Esparza

Sliced bread literally didn’t exist the last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. Yeah, it’s been a while.

108 years to be exact.

So, it’s no wonder that most of Chicago, including the folks at kCura’s headquarters, are pretty stoked that “next year” might finally be here.

And with baseball on our minds, we can’t help but notice that some of the skills that make great ball players make for great e-discovery players, too. If you’re looking to be an all-star in e-discovery, take note of these key traits.

Stay Calm Like a Pitcher

A good pitcher mixes up speeds, paints the corners, and puts some movement on the ball. But, most importantly, ace pitchers know how to stay calm and focused, even under a stadium full of pressure.

It’s much the same in e-discovery. You may not have thousands of screaming (or booing) fans surrounding your desk, but you’ve probably faced a tight deadline or two on a project. And there’s no relief pitcher in the e-discovery game.

But just as a pitcher on the mound may play mental games—positive mantras, breathing exercises, et cetera—you can do the same. In fact, DTI’s client services manager Amanda Sabia gives some pretty solid advice to overcome the mental struggle: just remember that “whoever is on the other end of [a] challenging situation is likely 10 times more stressed out than [you are].”

Read Amanda Sabia’s “5 Tricks to Help e-Discovery Project Managers Keep a Level Head”

Communicate Like a Catcher

Though sometimes overlooked, the catcher is the backbone of the team. They’re savvy strategists who call pitches and set the infield, and strong communicators who know how to calm down a riled pitcher, what to say to an umpire with a miniscule strike zone, and even how to rattle a batter.

Like all-star catchers, good e-discovery practitioners know their audience and adapt their communication style accordingly. For example, when they’re talking to clients who aren’t as tech savvy as them, they avoid technical jargon and lingo and instead focus on the benefits or outcome of what they’re explaining. Yvette Bula, senior director of technical services at Commonwealth Legal, relies on case studies and visuals, something that becomes especially handy when trying to demonstrate the value of technology like analytics without scaring non-tech folks away.

See Yvette Bula’s “3 Ways to Close e-Discovery Communication Gaps with Your Client”

Be Flexible Like a First Baseman

Aside from usually being left-handed, the best first basemen are flexible players—literally. Just watching the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo do the splits makes my hips hurt.

The idea of “flexibility” in e-discovery is of course not as literal, but it is equally—if not more—important. Just as every throw to first base is not going to be on point, every case is not going to have the perfect parameters, so you have to adapt to any obstacles that come your way. One thing that can help is a deep set of tools to meet the needs of any case, no matter how large or complex. For example, we’ve seen customers use Relativity for everything from second requests and compliance to contract management and data remediation projects.

"Check Out Altep’s “e-Discovery Obstacle Course: A Survival Guide”

Take Quick Action Like a Third Baseman

Third base, also known as the “hot corner,” is home to some pretty gutsy players with cat-like reflexes. They need to act quickly, lest they get nailed in the face with a line drive.

e-Discovery can be a long, tedious process, but the goal is to get through it as quickly and efficiently as possible—which is where technology often comes into play. When analyzing data, for instance, analytics and technology-assisted review (TAR) can help e-discovery practitioners discover the truth and act quickly. We’ve seen first-hand how analytics save time and money. It’s why all-stars like Angela Green, deputy director of the Mega Litigation Support Team at Leidos, rely on analytics, even saying “There’s never a reason not to use [it].”

Check Out “Getting Started with Analytics: What e-Discovery Experts Say to Try First”

Collaborate Like a Middle Infielder

Shortstops and second basemen have a special relationship. After all, holding down the middle infield and coming together for that classic 6-4-3 double play is no easy feat. They’re constantly in a rhythm and playing off each other’s strengths and weaknesses. #RelationshipGoals

e-Discovery is all about teamwork, too, whether that’s an attorney working with a litigation support specialist on a big case; legal, HR, and IT collaborating on a cybersecurity program; or even opposing parties working together at the meet and confer. No matter with whom you’re trying to collaborate, an open mind and clear, consistent communication can make all the difference.

Our team has found two easy steps that go a long way in collaboration: kickoff meetings and retros. Before a project starts, we get together to identify and document things like tasks, stakeholders, and deadlines. Then, when the project wraps, we take 30-60 minutes to discuss what worked well and what we can improve next time.

6 Ways to Bring Legal and IT Teams Closer Together

Think Outside the Box Like an Outfielder

Let’s be real: outfielders might have a little more downtime than the rest of the team. Even Babe Ruth once said, “Gee, it’s lonely in the outfield. It’s hard to keep awake with nothing to do.” But those long lulls between big plays can be deceptive, because when the moment strikes, an outfielder has to be firing on all cylinders—ready to respond to a ball that never goes exactly where you think it will. That means these guys make some pretty creative catches.

Adapting to the unexpected in an agile, repeatable way is a huge aspect of e-discovery—it helps case teams tackle the tough challenges of their latest project, and anticipate the same issues before they arise next time. It’s also why we created an entire awards show for the innovations our community builds to creatively solve those challenges. Anthony DeJohn, vice president of advanced technologies at LDiscovery (whose team took home the Best Service Provider Solution and Community Choice titles at the 2016 Relativity Innovation Awards), says that confidence and close collaboration between service providers and clients makes this creative problem-solving possible. “Without [our clients’] faith in us to execute on really difficult projects, we wouldn’t have the ability to innovate. It’s really their challenges that drive our innovation,” he asserts.

See “21 e-Discovery Innovations You May Not Have Heard Of”

Kristy Esparza is a member of the marketing team at Relativity, specializing in content creation and copywriting.