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The E-Discovery Revolution Starts with the ‘Who’

Created on July 10, 2015

Solutions Consultant at Exterro

If you read my May blog post, you'll understand that my general perspective is that we are in the midst of something so young and with so much evolution yet to go, that it's a revolution of sorts…an E-Discovery Revolution!

Revolutions are scary, chaotic, satisfying, and challenging. We often don't have answers and we are making things up. We are making pretty good guesses and trying to follow evolving rules, recommendations and best practices…but we don't really know if it's exactly right.  Any of this sound like you? In my coming blog posts, my goal is to (hopefully) assure you that if you're on board and participating in this wild ride, chances are you are doing much of it quite well. And if gaps exist, maybe I can offer some guidance and insights.

The first mini-topic is “The Who"…no, not the great rock band that is touring for its 50th Anniversary this year (really?!?? “The Who" is about 5 times older than formal e-discovery!), but the who of e-discovery.

Have you ever thought about the concept of a Discovery Response Team (DRT)? You likely have an informal version of this in your organization, but maybe it's somewhat ad hoc and doesn't really function as well as it could. The first thing to address in “The Who" of e-discovery is who is involved and what are they doing? I know this seems basic, but you'd be surprised at how many organizations haven't truly thought about it in this way.

First you need an e-discovery expert from a minimum of three areas in the organization: legal, technical, and data management (these last two may be combined in some instances). If you're reading this, you're probably already one of these people. The individuals in this role are e-discovery groupies, they really like this stuff and they really want to learn more and be a leader in this legal specialty.

The legal e-discovery expert understands and guides the overall process, with a deep understanding of all of the moving parts, the organizational interdependencies, and the complications both inside and external to the legal department. The technical e-discovery expert understands the technical components of responding to requests from the legal department. They identify data sources, collect data, make sense of the data, keep track of the data, etc. In many organizations I have worked with, this person is called an “E-Discovery Specialist." They fulfill what the legal expert needs.  

Finally, there is the data management e-discovery expert. This person is very familiar to the organization's data and how it relates to e-discovery processes. Why is this important? This person provides the legal e-discovery expert with intel on where data lives, what's on various data sources, when they are backed up, if they are about to be retired (the data source, not the expert!), and other important information about the organization's data. Without this information, how can the legal e-discovery expert do their job?!?

Action Item: If you are your organization's legal e-discovery Expert, go make friends with the data management e-discovery expert today. Take him or her out to lunch and begin an earnest conversation about data. C'mon, it'll be fun. At the very least, it will be extremely educational. In the next blog post, I will delve deeper into the roles and responsibilities of the various experts.