Posts on the Topic: ‘Legal Project Management’
Fostering a Knowledge Worker Team
There is no denying that there have been rapid transitions in the eDiscovery space, and the discovery space over the last decade and increasingly so over the last 18 months. Along with these emerging processes, technologies and increasing volumes of data, a new breed of practitioners have emerged to effectively utilize the tools and technologies changing the eDiscovery space. From statistician and linguist, sophisticated project managers and consultants to savvy up-and-coming associates and litigation support professionals, the new knowledge workers occupy a wide swath of the legal community. The million-dollar question is, how does a firm or corporation attract, retain and most of all develop this talent internally at a speed that keeps pace with the rapidly evolving market?
What type of knowledge workers do you need?
The wide spectrum of talent in the eDiscovery community and legal space offers a dizzying array of potential knowledge workers for a legal team to choose from. So, how do you begin?
The first step in the process of creating a knowledge worker centric team is to know how your company or firm wants to approach e-discovery in general. Does your practice have the scale and volume of electronic discovery initiatives to support capital investment in hardware, software and internal personnel and infrastructure? If so, a fully in-sourced solution inclusive of statisticians, linguists, and the project management and attorneys is necessary to support document reviews.
If you have a smaller volume or less of a desire to have control of the eDiscovery process then a partially or fully outsourced solution makes the most sense. Firms that partially outsource or fully outsource eDiscovery are well served to recruit and develop practitioners with project management strength and to develop associates or junior partners that understand the eDiscovery process and can articulate it to outside counsel or to potential clients. Even if your plan is to fully outsource, having a few key individuals with a deep pool of knowledge is key to ensure effective and defensible application of technology as well as ensuring that eDiscovery technology and staffing solutions are provided at reasonable and predictable pricing levels.
Building your Knowledge Worker Team
For fully in-sourced eDiscovery solutions, the key is to find attorneys and specialist that possess the requisite knowledge at the outset to support and build an eDiscovery counsel or in-house self-contained eDiscovery solution. Firms and corporations looking to develop this self-sufficient approach to eDiscovery need to employ a blend of external hires and current resources trained on the specific platforms to be applied at an enterprise level. Whether the plan is to implement a linear approach to review incorporating a basic processing tool like Law or Nuix and running the hosted review on Relativity or employing advanced analytics and predictive or automated coding, the key to success is to have professionals certified and highly experienced with the selected tools. Some existing personnel can be “trained up” to meet the increased rigors of managing the end-to-end eDiscovery process.
If the approach that your company or firm elects is one of partial or full outsourcing, it makes more sense to rely on your partnered solution providers for niche experts like linguist or statisticians and the need for quality project managers and internal resources that understand the eDiscovery process is heightened. Rather than looking purely externally, rely on the resources provided by your vendors and certifications to help elevate you current internal personnel
Resources for “Training Up”
All of the major technology providers in the eDiscovery space offer proprietary certification in their tools, many also offer webinars and articles or white papers on a wide array of topics relating to case law and changes in the eDiscovery space. These free resources are readily available and most vendors are more than happy to train or speak with your team because educated clients help everyone in the long run. Certifications seminars and coursework are also options although they require a greater monetary investment. The PMP certification, offers project managers a structure and process to approach managing eDiscovery matters that mirrors what many large scale government contracting companies utilize and it is becoming increasingly popular in the eDiscovery space.
The PMP certification requires 35 hours of coursework; documented years of project management experience and costing between $1000-2000 this investment is not unsubstantial. There are countless conferences across the U.S. and internationally that offer 2-3 days of sessions with industry leaders speaking on eDiscovery. Legal Tech, The masters, IQPC, ILTA, CEDF, Carmel Valley and many regional seminars and conventions focus purely on eDiscovery. For a novice these may be a great way to get immersed in eDiscovery, but as with any conference the professionals only get as much out of it as they want to.
Fostering the Knowledge Worker Culture
Keeping and enticing the type of people necessary to keep ahead of the curve in the eDiscovery space is no simple task. Vendors, corporations and law firms alike are courting leaders in this space. Supporting on-going learning and offering the practitioners that you bring into the fold at your organization the ability to explore and test new technology is one aspect of the puzzle. Realizing that the eDiscovery practice area does not conform to the normal ebbs and flows of legal practice is also key. Whether you fully in-source or outsource some or all of your practice, the ability to be adaptable and scalable is also a key component.
The eDiscovery market is rapidly changing, but with the right investments… organizations can get and stay ahead of the game.
The eDiscovery Paradigm has Shifted, Now What?
Technology leveraged solutions have set the blogosphere and the legal industry aflutter with promises of massive cost savings, lightning fast review and everything but the kitchen sink. Predictive coding, advanced analytics, algorithms and statistical analysis are rapidly reshaping the way that document review is conducted. But where does the talk stop and real results begin when it comes to practical application of these new technologies? More importantly, how much can an organization, considering the various solutions on the market, hope to save at the end of the day?
Cost-Benefit Analysis of Computer-Assisted Review
Nearly every practitioner in the eDiscovery space is familiar with the now infamous February opinion by Judge Andrew J. Peck in Da Silva Moore v. Publicis Groupe. This opinion paves the way for increasing utilization of advanced technologies to augment or replace traditional models of linear review. As a result, law firms and corporations no longer need to fear being penalized for using alternative non-linear technologies. Despite this green light, practitioners still need to carefully evaluate the spectrum of tools available, their tangible impact on a case and the potential risks and rewards that the technology poses.
In order to accurately analyze the risk-reward matrix for application of computer leveraged solutions, a practitioner must first understand several factors:
- What specific variation of computer leveraged solution is being prescribed?
- What savings in terms of time and money will be generated from this application?
- How likely or large are the risks posed by application of this technology?
Client Success Story
Computer-Assisted Review (CAR) in Action
Take a recent case study from a client that engaged Hudson Legal to assist in providing a global eDiscovery solution. There was an SEC investigation relating to a series of credit default swap transactions between a European utility company and three large financial institutions. The portfolios of these credit default swaps were under the management of our client under the terms of four separate portfolio management agreements. There was ongoing litigation relating to these swaps in the UK and Germany, when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a request for information surrounding these transactions. To add complexity to these efforts, there were four separate information custodians holding data regarding the transactions.
The client needed to promptly respond to a request for information, and execute discovery with multiple information custodians. They had obligation to provide the requested documents to the SEC quickly and with a minimum amount of unnecessary review of irrelevant documents. They had a further challenge in that the primary custodian of concern had a volume of data that exceeded the combined total of all other data in the case. Traditional eyes on every document review would have cost an estimated $175,000+ and would have entailed manually reviewing 363,000 documents.
The client needed an affordable and accurate way to deliver the requested documents to the SEC quickly, but the traditional linear solutions could not deliver…
To deliver a fast, efficient, and accurate review a bifurcated eDiscovery Solution was implemented. This solution utilized Relativity® computer-assisted review to quickly identify documents relevant to the SEC request, combined with linear review for the smaller document set obtained from multiple custodians.
In this case the risk of non-compliance with the SEC deadline and the potential for a single custodian to derail the entire review motivated the client to leverage computer-assisted review. This yielded a 49% cost savings over traditional linear review as well as substantial reduction in the time of review, with a 95% confidence level (+/- 2.5%). A total of 184,000 documents were ultimately reviewed with a net savings of 178,339 documents and $87,186.
So, Now What?
This solution was by no means simple, nor was it the equivalent of pushing an easy button and waiting for the 229 responsive documents to magically materialize out of the 363,000-document “haystack”. But it does demonstrate how, through thoughtful and selective application of technology, companies and firms can drastically reduce the number of documents that have to be manually analyzed. The two-tiered approach, coupled with statistical sampling, QC and validation create a defensible process in support of the overall application of computer-assisted solutions.
In a world that offers a wide spectrum of global eDiscovery solutions, the role of the practitioner and their eDiscovery solutions provider is central to the success of a computer-assisted document review. Advanced technology has the potential to save valuable time and resources, when deployed in a thoughtful and deliberate way. These technologies are only as effective as the practitioners wielding them, and should not be thought of in a vacuum but rather as an intersection of man and machine that, when optimized, is a time and cost efficient solution to global eDiscovery issues.
Man vs. Machine or People + Technology?
The Importance of Choosing the Right People in eDiscovery 2.0
Recently, US District Court Judge Andrew Carter upheld the now infamous February opinion by Judge Andrew J. Peck in Da Silva Moore v. Publicis Groupe. This paves the way for increasing utilization of advanced technologies to augment or replace traditional models of linear review. As a result, law firms and corporations no longer need to fear being penalized for using alternative non-linear technologies.
Despite this affirmative ruling, early adopters still need to ensure that when cutting edge technology is applied, it is well-managed by practitioners with the skills necessary to effectively utilize said technology. The intersection of man and machine heightens the need for trusted advisors in the legal technology and staffing space, and calls for a method of evaluating the skill-set of attorneys who are employing increasingly sophisticated technology.
Da Silva & Other cases… What do they mean?
There has been so much activity in legal periodicals and the eDiscovery blogosphere that it’s easy to lose sight of the relevance of the Da Silva decision. Judge Peck did not order the use or acceptance of Predictive Coding, rather he stated that the technology should be considered as a method to curtail discovery costs. He went on to determine which of two proposed protocols (both employing Predictive Coding) was acceptable. In the original opinion, Judge Peck stated:
Computer-assisted review …should be seriously considered for use in large-data-volume cases where it may save the producing party (or both parties) significant amounts of legal fees in document review. Counsel no longer needs to worry about being “first” or “guinea pig” for judicial acceptance of computer-assisted-review.
The recent order in Global Aerospace Inc., et al, v. Landow Aviation goes a step further and affirmatively directs an unwilling plaintiff to accept a production derived via predictive analytics to curtail discovery costs, overruling an assertion that said technologies were a “radical departure from the standard practice of Human Review”. In his ruling, Virginia Circuit Court Judge James H. Chamblin noted that predictive coding tools were not being used in lieu of having human beings make selections, but rather:
Predictive coding tools require human input for a computer program to “predict” document relevance. Additionally, the proposed approach includes an additional human review step prior to production.
There has not yet been a ruling where predictive coding has been proscribed despite opposition from one side, but that circumstance is likewise under judicial consideration. In looking at the cases above, it is clear that there is a willingness of the bench to accept Technology Assisted Review (TAR). The key factor being the word “assisted”. Practitioners must take an active role in the implementation of these tools and use them in conjunction with fact-driven case development to reap the rewards offered by predictive coding or any of the litany of other tools. Judicial approval lies in sound processes and the intersection of man and machine, not merely in which widget is selected.
Best Practices and Guidelines for Successfully Managing Projects Remotely
As a project manager, it’s my job to ensure projects are executed on-time and on-budget in the most efficient and accurate way possible. This calls for a delicate balance of people, technology and processes. Every project is different with its own unique set of circumstances and requirements. What works flawlessly for one client might not be appropriate or applicable for another… yet, remote (or virtual) project management is becoming an increasingly more viable option in the digital age. Being away from the team isn’t always easy, but it’s highly effective when done right.
When I was a child, I abhorred being away from my family. In fact, while I was in kindergarten, my many feigned illnesses enabling me to stay home became so obvious that the principal came to visit me there to investigate. What resulted was a concerted effort to assure me that even though my family wasn’t there, that things were ok and that they weren’t far away. My first-grade (pun intended) sister, was allowed to visit my classroom on occasion, and my parents stressed that they were only a phone call away. This played out in later years through equipping me with family pictures and other mementos during summer camps. Such things gave me the feeling that they were there without actually being there. Those memories and that concept resurfaced recently when I was asked a question about managing a project remotely.
The question is simply: When the circumstances are right, how do you manage a project remotely? My answer is, you make the project team feel like you are there when you aren’t actually there. This is evidently a popular thing to do nowadays, exemplified by the emergence of such things as virtual offices, Skype, Instant Messaging and all forms communication that allow remote employment to be a desirable and cost-effective option for many businesses.
Are You Ready for e-Discovery 2.0?
In recent months there has been a furor over new disruptive technologies entering the e-discovery marketplace. Predictive coding, non-linear review workflows and machine assisted learning are changing the landscape and practice of law in the e-discovery arena and being discussed ad nauseam in legal periodicals, blogs and conferences. But amid all the discussion one key component has been overlooked: what will the new e-discovery practitioner look like in this new technology driven ESI landscape? As the suite of services in e-discovery evolves to include technology assisted non-linear review a new breed of skilled knowledge workers are emerging.
Big Data & Evolution of e-Discovery 2.0
Since the first attorneys asked the fateful question “do you think email is discoverable?” about a decade ago, Electronically Stored Information (ESI) has been doubling or tripling every 18-24 months with 85% of that data residing in business domains. The IDC Digital Universe study, “Extracting Value from Chaos” forecasts 1.8 zettabytes (1.8 trillion gigabytes) will be created and replicated in 2011 at a rate faster than predicted by Moore’s law. As corporations and law firms have scrambled to wrap their arms around the ever-increasing mountain of data associated with some litigation and government investigations, the cost associated with the discovery process has skyrocketed rendering certain matters cost prohibitive. Rather than focusing on the merits of a case, attorneys have had to spend exorbitant amounts of money to preserve, collect, search and ultimately produce the proverbial needle in a haystack from first megabytes, then terabytes and now petabytes of data. Linear review is still defensible and ultimately reliable, but as big data dominates aspects of the market, e-discovery practitioners need to evolve to embrace technology assisted review as well.
The first plan of attack was one of brute force; companies hired legions of contract attorneys to painstakingly review every document for relevance, privilege and key issues. Over time the multi-million dollar cost of collecting, processing, hosting and producing the relevant data has been commoditized and reigned in, but the bulk of the cost for an electronic discovery matter, the cost for the human capital has remained a heavy burden. The introduction of enterprise cloud computing and now with the iCloud personal cloud computing, the volume of data is only trending upwards. The eyes on every document linear review process and its brute force approach is simply cost prohibitive when dealing with the new Big Data infiltrating the e-discovery Market.
The Paradigm Shift: Machine Learning and Big Data Analytics
They say that necessity breeds ingenuity, and this has certainly been the case with the e-discovery industry. Out of the morass of data technologies that facilitate early case assessment, advanced algorithms and machine assisted learning or front end semantic indexing have steadily cropped up as viable alternatives to traditional Boolean searching and brute force approaches to e-discovery . The new technology has the capacity to reshape the e-discovery game. If we are to believe the recent ruminations of Judge Peck, it also likely has blessing from the bench if used in a defensible workflow and in a reasonable manner when data volume necessitates its use.
Contributed by Kristy L. Peters and Mark S. Yacano, Hudson Legal
There is no question that undertaking a document review project is daunting. Whether your firm already has the necessary resources in place or instead selects specialized companies to handle all or part of the process, there are many mission-critical decisions that need to be made quickly. Given the incredible volume of data that typifies even today’s simplest matters, the consequences of e-Discovery mistakes are terrifying. Staggering expenses, client confidence and sanctions all hang in the balance.
By taking a bit of time at the outset to strategize, however, you can avoid common problems and increase your likelihood of conducting a successful and efficient review. Here are five keys:
Assemble the Right Team, Right Away
It is tempting to take each piece of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) one at a time and hire only those resources strictly necessary so as not to bust your client’s budget from the get-go―first turning to collection and processing, then choosing a platform, and then picking a review team, etc. Instead, as soon as you’re faced with a document review situation, consider putting together an experienced team of e-discovery experts, with a responsible point-person for each phase. Then, get all team members talking to each other right away. You’ll realize greater efficiencies with end-to-end solutions and companies that have demonstrated an ability to work well together. If you choose a provider that only handles one piece, be sure to loop other members of the team in as soon as is practicable so tasks can be divided as efficiently as possible. You don’t want to be faced with a situation, for example, where data is collected by a vendor in a way that turns out to be incompatible with your review platform. You’ll end up having to recollect or switch platforms―and being forced to do either is expensive and time-consuming. The last thing you want to do is have to go back to your client to say “we didn’t handle this correctly the first time and we’ve got to start over.”
It’s advisable to vet providers before you need them. You don’t want to have to scramble to figure out who does what―and of equal importance, who does what well―at the eleventh hour. Try to assess whether your unique needs and preferences are being understood and ask for references. All good service providers are willing to customize solutions and will treat you as their number one client no matter how big or small the assignment.
Continue reading “Five Keys to Effective and Efficient Document Review” »
While registering for next week’s Masters Conference, I was struck by the number of panels related to the Cloud and data security, many addressing the same questions and concerns raised last year and the year before. It seems that one cannot open a legal news site or a blog with out the concept of the Cloud popping up a half dozen times and in a half dozen different contexts. Today, many people do not have a clear understanding of the solutions offered by the Cloud nor the size and scale of risk associated with migrating core business functions into it.
As was the case with predictive analytics and machine learning, operating in the Cloud is not as new or as frightening of a concept as many would have you believe. The true danger lies in the ambiguity and hype surrounding it! To give our readers a complete perspective of cloud computing, I’ve created a downloadable primer: “Demystifying the Enigma that is Cloud Computing“.
- Detailed overview of Cloud use models
- Size and scale of risk associated with the Cloud
- Cloud delivery options and methods
- Common obstacles in Cloud projects
- Considerations for migration
The continuing confusion surrounding the cloud begs the question: How does Cloud computing affect those in Legal? What particular issues or concerns arise from utilizing the Cloud in litigation? Stay tuned for more answers next week as I attend the Masters Conference and tweet what I’m sure will be insightful tidbits from the many expert presenters. The conference hashtag is
Follow us on Twitter:
Organization in the Legal field – Really?
Is there such a thing as organization in the legal arena or are we forever relegated to piles of papers in different folders scattered everywhere? There have been many systems put in place to organize cases so that things are done as consistently as possible. What seems inevitable is that those systems fall by the wayside as soon as anything goes awry – and something always goes awry. What if we learned to standardize the parts of the process that are rarely problematic and add in exception processes to handle one-off problems? We could get a more efficient and focused system to handle our day-to-day work efforts. If we in the legal field were to become truly and completely proactive, we might arrive at a similar answer as other industries.
Business Process Management to Drive Efficiency
So what do other industries do differently? Some savvy companies implement BPM, or Business Process Management, which for purposes of this blog is a computer system that forces transparency of process through standardization with measures of process enforcement.
The BPM systems out there today offer a key component whereby through engaging in a set of processes we can measure time to delivery so to make accurate business projections and deadline promises as well as determine process inefficiencies that can be addressed, tweaked, and fixed. Theoretically, these metrics can tell us right down to the penny how much money was lost in an activity that could have been done more effectively.
My Take on Buying BPM for Legal
I examined BPM systems for the needs of the legal market so that I could offer some ideas here that you might use to start down the road toward BPM. Great sources to find out about the better rated BPM suites are analysts like Forrester or Gartner. These companies do a thorough job of investigating the different options out there. I will focus my remarks on the following products: Appian, Global 360, Metastorm, Pegasystems, Progress/Savvion, and Software AG.
Preparing for BPM System Selection
When planning a BPM purchase there are several areas you will want to document before engaging vendors. Here are the top three: Continue reading “Exploring BPM Solutions for the Legal Arena” »
I have two passions in life – Project Management and Philosophy. Examining various management and E-discovery concepts from a philosopher’s point of view can shed light on the trickier debates that permeate the interactions of a document review team. So, please allow me to wax philosophical.
An Introduction to Pragmatism
A short philosophical background – currently my favorite brand of philosophy is Pragmatism. This is an American brand of philosophy. The essence of the version I find most appealing is that there are no enduring Truths. Words and concepts do not mirror nature, there are only ways of talking. A consequence of this view is that it dissolves all of those seemingly irresolvable questions about Metaphysical concepts – What is Truth? What is Justice? What is Reality? What is Evil? What is really there? To the pragmatist, those are questions without answers. He or she puts those questions aside and instead tries to change his or her world. (For example: We do not need to get at the metaphysical foundations of Justice to come to a good outcome in a dispute.)
The pragmatist holds that if two people disagree on “what is reality,” there is nothing outside of our use of language to compare our views on reality. Every attempt to convince the other party inevitably falls back to that individual’s linguistic behavior. It’s all we have. When words don’t mirror nature, you only have two people making various noises trying to get what they want. Perhaps the two parties will move forward and begin to talk like each other. Perhaps they will agree at some point. But they will never find a reality to compare their language against. There is nothing outside of the way we talk.
Pragmatism is a response against Essentialism. Essentialism is the general concept at the heart of most philosophical thinkers throughout history and at the heart of common sense. It says that things do have an essence. There is Truth. There is real objective Universally True Justice, Reality, Evil, Right, Wrong, etc. We just have to find the correct way to look at the problem.
The pragmatist retorts, because there is no reality “out there” to compare our descriptions of reality against, “how would you know when/if you got there?”
How Does Pragmatism Relate to Legal Project Management?
One large overlooked problem in today’s e-discovery project management world is in the way contract attorneys are treated. Conventional thinking focuses on concepts such as, “how can we make the review go faster?” or “how can we make the worker review more documents?” Clearly, at times, that mentality must take precedence, but I do not think it should be the default. Continue reading “A Pragmatic View of Legal Project Management” »
Anybody who has been trained in any modern business management practice has learned when dealing with people for business output, catering to the human aspects of the work will produce the most efficient and best product. Why is it that in the legal field, this lesson is still not normally applied?
Managing Efficiency in the Legal World
The legal field is a notoriously challenging environment in which to manage efficiently. It is difficult to predict work effort due to the amorphous nature of case work, court sliding deadlines, surprise information or tactics by opposing counsel, or any other myriad of mechanisms. Environmental factors are not completely foreign to other industries, just colored and represented differently. I have seen first-hand, and successfully implemented strategies, that either among colleagues, subordinates, or even cross-functional groups can actually apply to legal work.
It’s People that Count
It is far too large of a scale to discuss all business strategies in one sitting so I will just mention one (and only a subset of that one to boot). That one is the management of one of the largest, most valuable resources in the legal industry and is also probably one of the easier resources to work with. It is simply, and I do say “simply”, people management.
There are various ways to manage people. Imagine my surprise when I heard an educated legal professional say to me, “I know the way I manage people is draconian. It works and it is what we do around here.” I knew what draconian meant but was not sure if the speaker was trying to use some obscure meaning. Looking up draconian at dictionary.com it shows up as “unusually severe or cruel” while Merriam-Webster merely says “cruel”. Was the speaker merely mistaken in word choice or was the speaker proud of the adopted methodology? We’d hope the former, but are not sure it is not the latter.
Selfless Leaders Breed Efficiency
Before becoming a lawyer I worked in big business. They liked us to be effective and efficient. I remember my first supervisor was a real go-getter. He found the best, most interesting, and high profile projects, won them over and gave them to his subordinates to work on. The nature of the projects was great for career building, as well as fun to do, so we already liked him. He did something else though, if anything went wrong, he Continue reading “People Management Matters in Legal” »