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Why You Must Define Roles and Responsibilities on E-Discovery Projects

Created on March 15, 2019

E-Discovery Market Analyst at Exterro

In any team process, it’s critical to define both the process the team will follow and the roles and responsibilities of the team members. Everyone needs to understand and agree on the big picture goals, and more importantly, on where their responsibilities begin and end. It may be surprising, but research shows that teams actually collaborate more effectively when roles are clearly delineated and responsibilities are well-defined. (For an in-depth look at this phenomenon, check out Tammy Erickson’s article “The Biggest Mistake You (Probably) Make with Teams” at the Harvard Business Review.)

With a process as complicated as e-discovery, the importance of defining roles is magnified. The actual job titles may differ from one organization to another, but the roles and responsibilities explained below remain consistent. Let’s take a look at the seven critical roles on an e-discovery team.

  • In-House Counsel: defines strategy; provides oversight; reviews collected data; communicate, cooperate, and negotiate with opposing counsel
  • Paralegal: understands processes; manages projects
  • Litigation Support: performs administrative tasks; implements processes; reports to paralegals and counsel
  • Custodian: acknowledges and implements legal hold; retains relevant documents; provides insight into matter in interviews
  • IT/Compliance/Security: implements data preservation and collection; maintains chain of custody
  • Vendors/Service Providers: Ensures review platform options match review protocol; trains users on review platform.
  • Outside Counsel: monitors matter status, reviews search results, refines search criteria; produces documents; revises privilege log

Of course, there are two sides to every litigation, so the opposition will have a similarly constituted team—or at least they should. That said, you won’t have or need visibility into their team. The only real point of interaction with opposition is through their outside counsel, who for the intents of your e-discovery workflow, is defined as the opposing counsel.

  • Opposing Counsel: performs the same duties as outside counsel but for the opposing litigant; receives production and privilege logs

If you’d like more information on the actual workflow you should implement with your team, download Exterro’s Comprehensive E-Discovery Workflow Guide today!