eDiscovery Daily Blog

eDiscovery Project Management from Both Sides: eDiscovery Best Practices, Part Three

Editor’s Note: Tom O’Connor is a nationally known consultant, speaker, and writer in the field of computerized litigation support systems.  He has also been a great addition to our webinar program, participating with me on several recent webinars.  Tom has also written several terrific informational overview series for CloudNine, including his most recent one, Preparing for Litigation Before it Happens, which we covered as a webcast on September 26.  Now, Tom has written another terrific overview regarding pre-litigation considerations titled eDiscovery Project Management from Both Sides that we’re happy to share on the eDiscovery Daily blog.  Enjoy! – Doug

Tom’s overview is split into four parts, so we’ll cover each part separately.  Part one was covered on Monday and part two was covered on Wednesday.  Here’s the third part.

The Lawyer’s Perspective to Project Management

What do lawyers think about this PM discussion? Do they think about it all? First let’s consider what they want from their ED project. Well that’s easy. They want to win their case.

And they want to adequately anticipate and minimize costs while they are winning. As Mike puts it “Clients expect not just cost predictability, but also cost containment.”

Mark Cohen, well known legal commentator and founder of legal delivery consultancy, Legal Mosaic, has been talking about this process for a number of years. In his article 7 Things Lawyers Should Know About Project Management, he defined Project Management as “the application of knowledge, skills and techniques to execute projects effectively and efficiently. It is considered a strategic competency for organizations, enabling them to tie project results to business goals — and thus, better compete in their markets. In its simplest form, Project Management defines the desired result, methodically structures the work into manageable pieces, and provides a framework of business and technology processes to achieve the result efficiently and economically.”

Mark also clearly differentiated PM from delivering a matter for a set price, which he felt was not only has a narrower definition than PM but also is a strategy not well suited to the many changes which often occur in an ESI project. These “unexpected turns”, as Mark calls them, a matter can take are better handled by a change order written into the PM Statement of Work/Engagement Letter.

Marks final thoughts were a nod to the global isolation of the US legal market in working with non-lawyers. He said: “Lawyers should familiarize themselves with project management skills because, without them, they may ultimately find non-lawyers taking charge of integrating and delivery their services, thereby reducing lawyers to a more marginal role in the overall process.”

Another consultant who has advocated PM for many years is Dennis Kennedy, a well-known legal tech commentator who recently retired as VP & Senior Counsel of Digital Payment and Labs at Master Card and is now an adjunct professor of law at Michigan State U School of Law. I clearly remember a 2010 podcast Dennis did with Tom Mighell on the Legal Talk Network called Lawyers as Project Managers, and remember thinking at the time that he was well ahead of the curve on the subject.

More recently, he was a member of a panel discussing PM published by Law Technology Today called Defining Legal Project Management.  In that discussion, Dennis, much like Mike Quartararo, felt that legal PM is based on general PM principles.

But Dennis went one step further saying:

“Lawyers tend to think that everything they do is unique and special. Other than existing in the legal context, I don’t see legal project management as being anything different than general project management.”

He did feel that trained PM managers were a plus because:

“most lawyers don’t learn project management techniques, the results can be hit or miss. You have to know your strengths and weaknesses. I’d want to hire a project manager. You might want to take on that role yourself. You need to take a hard and realistic look at yourself.”

Either way, he did feel that PM is:

“not a fad at all. I see it as a very important trend to watch. Certain clients will start to insist on lawyers using project management and other standard business workflow and process tools.”

He and his fellow panelists pointed to some excellent PM resources for lawyers including the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium, the ABA’s Law Practice Division Legal Project Management Interest Group, the Association of Corporate Counsel Legal Operations, Legal Marketing Association’s P3 Practice Innovation Conference, the True Value Partnering Institute, and the Law Vision Group LPM Roundtable.

We’ll publish Part 4 – Conclusion – next Monday.

So, what do you think?  How does your organization apply project management to your eDiscovery projects?  As always, please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Sponsor: This blog is sponsored by CloudNine, which is a data and legal discovery technology company with proven expertise in simplifying and automating the discovery of data for audits, investigations, and litigation. Used by legal and business customers worldwide including more than 50 of the top 250 Am Law firms and many of the world’s leading corporations, CloudNine’s eDiscovery automation software and services help customers gain insight and intelligence on electronic data.

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.