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Are Project Management and Marketing Key Skills for Litigation Support?

Liz Durkin

Specialized knowledge in one aspect of e-discovery is desirable, but versatile, blended expertise is quickly becoming a must-have. Litigation support providers tell us that a legal mindset plus technical acumen are a winning combo, but how does this theme play out among law firms?

We had a chance to catch up with Craig Cannon and Joe Panzarella, senior leaders on the e-discovery, information governance, and litigation support team at Kilpatrick Townsend, about the skills that make their team members successful. They’ve learned that a few unexpected competencies combine to make a great e-discovery team.

Liz: What is your team’s responsibility?

Joe: Our team is a cross-functional group of attorneys, project managers, analysts, and trial technology specialists—called the “A Team”—dedicated to assisting the firm’s clients with e-discovery projects. We work closely on the firm’s most complicated litigation matters to make sure that e-discovery is handled in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

With that comes a responsibility to market ourselves to our internal folks so they know how they can rely on our team for their projects. 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.

We tailor our approach to each group to speak to their problems and demonstrate how we’re equipped to handle those problems—for example, demonstrating how we can work with our anti-trust team on second requests.

Liz: Why is it important for these teams to understand e-discovery and how you serve them?

Craig: Attorneys want to fully understand how much data is out there, how the world is expanding in terms of its data footprint, and how this expanding data footprint will ultimately influence costs.

Some of our clients are huge tech companies that have some of the largest data sets in the world. Having our teams understand how we would manage that data and run an e-discovery project on those large data sets is critical.

It’s my job to educate our case teams who in turn need to educate and work with clients to help them understand the effects of these large data sets downstream in the discovery process.

Liz: How do you collaborate with other departments to accomplish your mission?

Craig: Much of my job is going on roadshows to talk about our services to different groups, giving them different scenarios and examples of where e-discovery acumen could be valuable. What I mean by roadshow is we visit our case teams’ offices around the world to present our services and really focus in on how they could leverage our team. We provide lots of tangible examples and success stories, so they know exactly how they can apply our services.

Since our team does such a great job of educating colleagues on how we can be of service, we’re often looped in on pitch meetings to learn the scope of a project and provide recommendations on how our team could assist. It all goes back to education and trust. We equip the other teams to talk about what we do, how we operate, and how we bill our work, and they are able to advocate for our services and see opportunities for us to help in a project.

Liz: You mentioned a group called the “A Team.” What does this team look like? Tell me about its genesis.

Craig: We developed a team of highly certified and trained individuals on the East Coast and West Coast and they serve our case teams 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

e-Discovery is evolving rapidly, and we’re seeing stronger connections between e-discovery, big data, cyber security, and privacy. This landscape is changing the proficiencies we need on our teams. We not only need technologists that understand these factors, but we also need people who have strong project management backgrounds. In fact, more than 75 percent of our team members are certified project management professionals. We look for a new breed of litigation support in building our team.

Liz: Why are project management skills so important on your team?

Joe: We’re trying to handle cases as efficiently and cost effectively as possible, and effective project management through the entire lifecycle makes that happen. If you look at surveys such as ILTA’s 2015 Project Management Survey Results, there’s a resurgence of project management in law firms, with a 12 percent increase in law firms with project managers as team members. That’s what clients are demanding.

Being a Relativity Certified Administrator and having other technical certifications is of the utmost importance, but project management skills round out our team members. When you marry effective project management and e-discovery practices, you have strong service delivery.

Craig Cannon is global e-discovery counselor and leader of the e-discovery, information governance, and litigation support team at Kilpatrick Townsend. He is a recognized leader in e-discovery, information governance, data privacy, and cross border data transfer and has more than 15 years of legal experience.

Joe Panzarella is the director of Kilpatrick Townsend’s e-discovery, information governance, and litigation support team, where he helps establish and implement the team’s overall strategic goals and visions. He has more than a decade of e-discovery and litigation support experience.