eDiscovery Daily Blog

A Winning Team Needs Several Types of Team Members: eDiscovery Best Practices

Happy Belated Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there, including my lovely wife, Paige!  We touched on this topic over three years (and several hundred subscribers) ago, so I thought it was worth revisiting.  Enjoy!

When beginning a new eDiscovery project, a good place so start is to estimate the various tasks that will need to be performed and identify the type of personnel that will be needed. Every project is different and unique, so the requirements of each project must be assessed. As the project unfolds, the tasks required to complete it may change – not just in terms of tasks added, but also tasks removed if the work is deemed to be unnecessary. So, it is important to revisit the project tasks and assignments to determine whether additional personnel are needed or if you can cut back. Here are the types of roles that could be associated with a typical eDiscovery project:

Client Contact(s): Whether it’s an individual, a corporation or a government entity, it’s important for the client to be involved in the process, so the team should include at least one client representative that can serve as the link between the internal and external teams, providing guidance on internal company workings and contact personnel. Typically, the client contact is from the in-house legal department, usually either a paralegal (to handle routine tasks) or an attorney (to discuss issues and coordinate decision making). When preservation and collection are required, the client contact(s) generally assist with litigation hold procedures, locating and collecting ESI, and conducting interviews of custodians. It is up to the client contact(s) to involve key managers and custodians as needed to provide guidance during this process.

IT Personnel: When responding to requests for ESI, let’s face it – you need one or more people who can “speak geek”. It’s important to include personnel who understand technical details about the client’s various computer systems and data (and maybe even the data map). Depending on the case, you need one or more individuals who understand any and all of the above: email and email archiving, storage of employee ESI, servers, clients, intranets, and databases. It’s typical for IT personnel in larger organizations to specialize; for example, to have one or more that is more knowledgeable about structured data (i.e. database programs) while others may understand and have access to email systems.

IT personnel should be involved in all issues related to the technology for the responding party to increase efficiency and optimize the approach to each new case. For many corporations, this is typically one or more individuals already employed as a member of the IT staff. It’s important for IT personnel to have at least a basic understanding of the legal processes and requirements of discovery (in other words, they have to be able to “speak legal” too, at least somewhat). If they don’t have that, it may be necessary to provide some training before a case arises or employ an outside consultant.

Forensic Collection Personnel: In some cases, it’s necessary to perform forensic analysis on various types of ESI (or at least collect the ESI in a forensic manner in the event that’s required). Examples of cases that may require forensic collection of electronic data include internal integrity investigations, situations where fraud and data deletion are suspected (such as trade secret cases) and government civil or criminal investigations. To enable the forensic specialist to testify (if required) to the work that was performed and exactly how it was done, companies often use a vendor not employed by the company or by the outside law firm.

See at least one critical team component missing? Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the rest of the team. Same bat time, same bat channel!

So, what do you think? Do you estimate the team members needed for your project before it begins? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.