So, the other day I was reading an article about eDiscovery. I do that a lot…it’s weirdly interesting to me. While I was reading, I see a line about the embarrassing level of technical knowledge attorneys have. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a comment like this. Each time I see it (or some iteration of it), I cringe. Why aren’t attorneys complaining about their tech team’s lack of knowledge about the law? Wouldn’t it make sense for the Litigation Support service provider, software company, or department to have a detailed understanding of the law?
I remember a conversation I was having with an attorney about what needed to be done to get some data ready for production. They flat out told me that they didn’t care and didn’t want to know–it just needed to be done. A couple of weeks after that conversation, I got a call from that same attorney telling me that they were required to explain to the judge how they got the data to the point of production. It was as that moment that the attorney realized two things: They needed at least that high level of knowledge about how we got to production and that they needed someone who could explain it in detail for them.
My career started with me knowing absolutely nothing about the law, but having a good understanding of technology. Through the years, I have had to learn about pleadings, responses, issues, production orders, etc. These pieces of information were definitely helpful in doing my job, but by no means were they required to get the job done.
Of course it’s a good idea for your Lit Support folks to know–at least at a high level–something about the way litigation works. What are the steps along the way? Why a case team needs the data that they request and how it will be used for productions and during trial (if it gets that far). It’s also a good idea for attorneys to have a high level understanding of the steps and time involved in gathering, processing, producing, and presenting data. Is it really embarrassing that attorneys don’t have an in-depth knowledge of technology? No, it’s not.
However, if you are interested in learning about eDiscovery, I recommend taking a look at the EDRM Diagram first. The eDiscovery community contributes to this framework, which puts you directly inside the industry. It’s a great start, interactive, and contains glossaries to help you learn all of the fun terminology that goes along with this discipline. There is a ton of information on this site! And, the more you are involved in eDiscovery, the more you will see this diagram.
Once you have a good understanding of the terminology and phases of electronic discovery, read blogs and white papers. There are more resources than I can count, but two of my personal favorites are Ball in your Court (Craig Ball) and Bow Tie Law (Josh Gilliland). These guys are both attorneys that present relevant information in interesting ways.
There’s also the Litigation Support Guru (Amy Bowser-Rollins) who offers classes, a blog, tips, and tests on her site. She’s been in the industry for quite a while and offers a great approach to understanding litigation support terminology, careers, and so much more.
If these none of these are to your liking, look for white papers on your (or any) service provider’s web site. You can also do a web search for “eDiscovery blogs” or “ESI blogs” or maybe “eDiscovery training” and you’re sure to find something that leads you down the best path for you.
Most importantly, talk with people in the industry. Ask questions. Sit with the people in your Litigation Support department and watch the things they do to get your data prepared for review and production. Ask more questions. Work closely with your service providers. Keep asking questions. Try some of the steps yourself. Yep, ask questions again. Doing this will help you gain a better understanding of why processes take the time that they do and will give you a good idea of the steps that are involved in each phase of the eDiscovery process.
Once you have worked your way through the suggestions above, you should have a good understanding of eDiscovery and if you’re really interested in the world of eDiscovery, you will take it from there. And, when the judge asks for an explanation of how you got the data to the point of production, you might just be excited to answer!