Diamonds “XLS” are a Girl’s Best Friend


Diamonds “XLS” are A Girl’s Best Friend

Even if you lack organizational skills, you would probably agree there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned spreadsheet to keep things straight.  My Excel skills are limited, but I still get excited about those columns and rows, a formula here and there, and let’s not forget about the hyperlinks.  

I’ll wear my heart on my sleeve and admit that prior to using any type of real database to track discovery, Bates stamps, three-ring binders, and spreadsheets were the extent of my tool kit.  After a quick search in the excel file, I could rip through that binder and find the document we needed in a split second.  Of course, the relevant pages of the spreadsheet were strategically placed in the front of the binder, just in case you didn’t have access to a computer to search for the document.  The task of sorting the Document Date column was a real treat!  As you may remember, this entire workflow was considered “thinking outside of the box” back in the day.  Even farther outside the box was scanning the documents and linking them to the row within the XLS.  This “technology” saved us huge amounts of time, and in turn, saved the client money.  We had such a great system in place that when litigator review tools were introduced to the industry, we had to carefully study the features to recognize how they could possibly be better than the system we had perfected.  The spreadsheet had indeed become my best friend . . . loyal and true!  

I know from experience; I was scared to give it up. Technology inevitably instills a little fear.  But here’s the thing, it always makes things better.  One of my ‘a-ha’ moments was realizing we could all be in the database at the same time (unlike the spreadsheet).  Don’t get me wrong, it still a manual process inputting the data but that’s our work product.  Computers will still need us to guide them but when we finally implemented the review tool, and ran a search, we could actually retrieve the related documents and have them right in front of us.  We quickly sifted through those that were irrelevant, we were able to generate reports, and work collaboratively.

Today I still see a lot of paralegals hanging on to their best friends (spreadsheets) to track litigation holds.  I totally get it. But trust me that there are tools available to automate this process and make your lives so much easier.  Think about this:  Is this process something you’d be proud to show off to your liability carrier?  Don’t worry, you’re not losing control.  You still develop the different templates and edit them according to the needs of the case but it also brings the team together.  Consider this:

  1. Pull from a list of custodians already entered into the database
  2. Assign a Litigation Hold letter from your tool kit of templates and modify it accordingly
  3. Send it over to the attorney for final approval
  4. Kick it off to the custodian
  5. Kick off related letter to Information Technology
  6. The platform then tracks whether the custodian has accepted the litigation hold
    1. If not, you’re alerted within the system
  7. Reminders are automatically generated
  8. Termination of the matter is generated
  9. Reporting features are available per custodian, across custodians, across matters

I still think of my best friend fondly, but this automated process and proactive approach to better workflow is something you will be proud to convey to your insurance carrier.  If you’ve started this process, good for you!  Keep it up!  If not, just take that first step.  And now we can get back to the Diamonds!