eDiscovery Daily Blog

It’s Draft Day! What Skills Does Your eDiscovery Quarterback Need?: eDiscovery Best Practices

If you’re a fan of a pro football team, you’ve been waiting months to see what players your favorite team will be drafting. That wait ends tonight as the annual NFL draft kicks off. When it comes to selecting football players, the most important player is the quarterback and teams put quarterback prospects through a series of tests (both physical and mental) to attempt to determine their likelihood for success in pro football (and they still get it wrong – a lot).

Like a football team, every litigation team navigating the discovery process needs a good “quarterback” – only we tend to call ours “project managers”. What skills does your eDiscovery “quarterback” need? Let’s take a look at some of the skills and qualifications that I look for in a good eDiscovery project manager.

  • Actual Case Experience: A good discovery PM candidate doesn’t have to have a law degree (even a JD) to be a successful project manager. Plenty of paralegals and IT professionals can be excellent project managers. If you’ve been following this blog for a long time, you know that I’m an IT professional, not a lawyer. I like to say that “I’m not a lawyer, but I play one on the Web”. But, I have managed many discovery projects and worked with attorneys for over 25 years. What’s important is the actual case experience that you’ve had, working with and managing other team members (including clients and outside vendors) in completing deliverables and meeting deadlines in all phases of the discovery life cycle.
  • Technical Proficiency: A good discovery PM candidate doesn’t have to have a Computer Science degree either. But, the candidate should have a good understand how data is stored (and that even “deleted” data may be recoverable), a good understanding of Office and most common applications and able to “speak geek” well enough to work with us IT types. In short, the best type of candidate is a lawyer whose “hobby” is being a computer geek OR an IT professional whose “hobby” is the litigation process.
  • Knowledge of the EDRM Model: If you don’t know the flow and phases of the EDRM model, you need not apply. If you only know the EDRM model and don’t know about any of the vast frameworks, standards and resources that have been developed by industry professionals over the past ten years (many of which we’ve covered here), you probably need not apply either.
  • Familiarity with Discovery Rules: Knowledge of Federal and applicable State Rules that pertain to discovery (and preferably the current proposed rules changes covered here and here, among other places) would be expected.
  • Considerable Experience with at Least One Litigation Support Software Platform: A lot of job postings that I have seen require experience with a particular software application – the application that they are using. It’s great if you can get it, but I would rather select a sharp, technically proficient candidate who learns quickly than a less qualified candidate that happens to know the preferred platform better. While the first candidate may require a little more ramp up time, he/she has greater upside in the long run.
  • Strong Verbal and Written Communication Skills: You can get a sense of a candidate’s verbal communication skills during the interview process. What about their written skills? I actually like to give PM candidates an assignment scenario where they are asked to communicate a project issue to an imaginary client (me) via email and explain how that impacts the scope and schedule, then evaluate that example as part of the evaluation process.

I also like to ask if they read any publications or blogs on eDiscovery. If they read Ball in Your Court, e-Discovery Team®, Ride the Lightning, Litigation Support Guru, Bow Tie Law’s Blog or Complex Discovery (to name a few), that’s bonus points! And, of course, if they read eDiscovery Daily, that’s major bonus points (everyone likes a suck-up). 🙂

That’s not a comprehensive list above, but it represents some of the key attributes that I seek. What qualifications do you look for in an eDiscovery “quarterback”? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

P.S. – The player pictured is Bryce Petty, quarterback prospect from my alma-mater, Baylor University. He may not know the EDRM model, but I think he will make a terrific quarterback in the NFL. You heard it here first. 🙂

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.