I can recall the first time I was involved in a case where the discovery was delivered on a piece of electronic storage. Immediately, I went straight over to our IT department. They were just as surprised and we realized that as eDiscovery began to enter our workflows that we would probably be getting to know each other more. I would argue that in most cases that still isn’t happening. Like many firms, our firm was comprised of different departments that specialized in different practice areas and different departments, such as accounting, human resources, IT and marketing. Each department had its role, and as long as we were getting the job done, for the most part we operated independently. Today, eDiscovery presents challenges that demand collaboration across the teams.
I have watched my son play baseball for years but it wasn’t until he started to play travel ball and I found myself in the stands for what could be 4-5 games in a weekend did I finally catch on to the strategy, communication and collaboration of this sport. All of those signs! Whether on offense or defense, the players are all watching the signs. A pitcher throws a curve ball — that was probably from a sign. A pick off at first or second base — was probably from a sign. A hit to left field or a bunt — was probably from a sign. In each of the instances, through planning, communication and practice they all work together for the good of the team. On the flip side, what would happen if two outfielders are running for that fly ball but no one calls it? I’ve seen collisions and I’ve seen the ball drop and affect the outcome of the game and the spirit of the team. Neither of which I want to see happen in your cases, in your organization or on behalf of your client. Managing cases requires intellect, strategy and collaboration across the team and so does working with eDiscovery and technology.
I would encourage you if you haven’t already to have meetings and develop relationships with the people that you should be collaborating with regularly. Get to know their processes, their challenges and their strengths. An effort to explore these and understand them from different perspectives will go far. Have you ever considered training your IT staff to become certified in forensics? Get rid of egos and titles. Create a culture where people feel like you’re approachable and want to gain strength in unity. Each department has specific skills, but with regular check points and communications, you’ll be able to leverage their experiences and suggestions pertaining to how you can work together. Each person on any team has unique skills. Once you recognize the value that each person brings to the table, it often constitutes the perfect body. You will likely learn that there are avenues for saving money and improving workflows.
eDiscovery is a team effort and relationships with non-lawyers are valuable. Someone in the IT department is probably best suited for discussing data maps, servers and back-up policies. Work with them and develop skills to better equip yourself for Meet and Confer discussions. What is your litigation hold or preservation policy? Have you taken the time to talk with Human Resources about adding steps to ensure that IT and Human Resources are communicating about the data belonging to an employee that is soon to exit the company? Do you have a plan in place for implementing a litigation hold with a third-party vendor or cloud storage provider? When you’re more experienced in these areas, this is the perfect opportunity to approach your marketing team with the competitive steps you’ve taken to make sure your clients have every opportunity to be successful. “There is no team power without the harmony between the players. All the communication methods used in the game help the team achieve its goal.” –Ronald Joy