By Jim Gill
E-Discovery Day is just around the corner, and people are already gearing up for a great lineup of webcasts with speakers from across the industry, as well as live events in various cities across the US. December 1st is the day we all come together—Attorneys, Paralegals, Lit Support and IT personnel, 3rd Party Vendors, Consultants, and Bloggers—to celebrate e-discovery. But why? What is the story behind this celebration?
No one is really sure at this point, but the story goes that years ago, an in-house legal team at a large Midwestern corporation--maybe it was a manufacturer, or a retail giant, or an insurance company—no one can really remember now, but that isn’t what matters; what’s important is that this team faced a daunting discovery deadline for a matter that had been worrying them for months. Adding to their concern was the fact that Thanksgiving had fallen the week before, tightening the time crunch.
But this team was prophetic in their approach during a time when e-discovery was in its infancy, and there were no best practices to follow, because people were just trying to throw together any kind of practices to meet the new standards in the Federal Rules. This team was a beacon shining in a world of e-discovery darkness.
They used project management ideas taken from other industries to optimize their process, ensuring that no step was missed, no piece of data deleted, no outcome left undocumented and analyzed.
They sought out the best technology available at the time to automate what could be automated and streamline what could be streamlined.
And more than anything else, they got along. They strove to ensure communication and transparency with every member of the team—legal, IT, technology vendor—because every piece of the puzzle was vital to success.
And succeed they did. But on that December 1st, the deadline now met, a late afternoon snow began to fall. They knew that soon enough the snowplows and salt trucks would be out en masse, clearing their paths home, so while they waited, they all came together to celebrate their e-discovery success. They shared some donuts left in the lunch room from an earlier board meeting, praising each member of the team’s contribution and recapping the things they’d learned so that the next time a matter arose, they could be even more efficient.
It was a time of high spirits and camaraderie.
Soon, they all walked down to their cars and drove off into the wintry night with a surprising amount of patience and goodwill toward the other commuters they traveled with, a mood which lasted through to the next day and on into the weekend, which then was buoyed and carried along by the general holiday cheer that comes in so many different ways during this season.
So as you’re celebrating E-Discovery Day this December 1st, remember that nameless team that led the way so many years ago. Let their example become a part of your process, while at the same time continuing to seek out new ways to gain even more efficiency and success, so that your ways may be a guide for generations of e-discovery practitioners to come.