Best wishes for a safe, healthy and prosperous 2009!
Fellow attorneys, we lost the coin-toss…but think of it this way, by virtue of being ‘second’, our post ends up ‘first’, so it’s really a lose-win…
Besides, I’m a techie and an attorney – I was gonna win either way…
1. KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW
Nobody expects you to be an expert. Who am I kidding? Of course they do! The problem is, an expert on what? You can learn the law, but in order to be effective, you need to know something about technology (otherwise, you’re really going to annoy the techies when you talk to them). Would it hurt to learn a little bit about how things work? The resources are available – use them! Go to IT and ask them to educate you, or educate yourself.
If I can do it, so can you…after all, you’ve got to know your limitations…
2. BROADEN YOUR THINKING
This is on the ‘Technology’ list, too, and for good reason. Do you know what encompasses ESI at your
clients’ enterprise? Where is it? Do they have access to it? What if it’s on
someone’s personal equipment? What if it’s on the ‘web’? What about your adversary? Are they being forthcoming about their ESI? How will you ascertain that? Remember,
you’re not just issuing and answering subpoenas here, you’re also looking for
exculpatory information on your clients’ own systems. The blade cuts both ways.
3. KNOW YOUR CASE LAW
This is uncharted territory. Everyone is learning as they go – including judges. If you’re not keeping up with changes in case law, you’re eventually going to get yourself into trouble. There are several resources at your disposal that will email the cases to you on a regular basis. Subscribe to one and stay current!
4. KNOW YOUR STATE LAW
We tend to think about e-discovery rules in Federal form. A lot of what we do involves national and multi-national corporations – and they’re ‘everywhere’. Their disputes won’t necessarily be Federal in nature; and we may also have to deal with ‘choice of law’ issues. No matter what your jurisdiction, state e-discovery rules may be in play. It’s your responsibility to know which states have implemented proprietary rules and how they affect your case. And be on the lookout for states with e-discovery rules on the horizon.
5. BE KIND TO THE TECHIES
A lot of people treat technology support like they do the dial-tone on a telephone; when they pick up the handset, they expect it to be there no matter what. Remember, techies spend a lot of their time trying to explain complex technology to people who don’t always understand it, yet are responsible for 1) managing it, 2) paying for it and/or 3) using it on a daily basis. Sometimes the frustration shows. Don’t just bark requests at them – be specific and work with them to understand what you need and whenever possible, why you need it.