e-Discovery Resolutions: Technology

Best wishes for a safe, healthy and prosperous 2009!

j0438855I took a few days off, but found myself pondering what a list of New Year’s resolutions for e-discovery professionals might look like.  I tried to make a single list, but as I compiled it I realized that bifurcating it and creating two separate posts – one for law, one for technology – would work better.  How did I decide who went first?  Well, I carefully reviewed the data, factored in the importance of each item, took into account the ego issues that would arise…

…I flipped a coin…Technology won…

1.    KNOW WHERE YOUR DATA IS

Yes, yes, I know; never end a sentence with a preposition.  In my defense, I don’t think that’s really a sentence.  If you insist, I’m just going to have to pull a “Winston Churchill” on you (See #1)…

Let’s face it, you’re running around with a ton of things to do, so nobody actually sits down and draws a map of the enterprise.  And if you’re one of the lucky ones who actually has a map, is anyone keeping it up to date?  (What do you mean I can’t start a sentence with and‘?  See #3)…  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been hired into an operation, asked for a data map and received one that’s two years old (Never use ‘I’ in business writing?  See #2).

2.    BROADEN YOUR THINKING

What encompasses ESI at your enterprise?  Where is it?  Do you have access to it?  What if it’s on someone’s personal equipment?  What if it’s on the ‘web’?  This is a good time to think about all of the places ESI may reside.  Remember, you’re not just answering subpoenas here, you’re also looking for exculpatory information.  The blade cuts both ways.

3.    FORMALIZE POLICY

This is no time to be fooling around.  You do not want to be caught without policies in place when litigation arises.  You won’t be able to put the genie back in the bottle, so get together and create sensible company policy, implement it and make sure everyone knows what their role is (don’t make me cite #1 again…).

4.    TAKE BOXING LESSONS

Regarding resolution #3…hey, I didn’t say it would be easy, did I?  Depending on the ‘buy-in’ at your firm, you may meet a lot of resistance.  People don’t like to change their habits.  This is why you have to create policies that make sense, sell them to management, then make sure management stands behind you.  Otherwise, this will fail.

5.    BE KIND TO THE LAWYERS

Everybody has a job to do.  Yes, unless the attorneys have some experience with technology, they may think everything can be produced “yesterday”.  They don’t know about your budget issues, your workload or the limitations of your existing technology.  Your job is to make them understand what you can – and can’t – do, and set reasonable deliverables.  Remember, their licenses are on the line.

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