All posts tagged ediscovery project management

A Quick and Dirty Guide to Ediscovery Project Management (Part 2)

Ediscovery Project Management - EDRM

In a complicated litigation landscape, it’s a relief that ediscovery project management (EDPM) and the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) fit together. An effective project manager will consider each stage of the EDRM, from identification to production, when creating the perfect ediscovery game plan for the given set of circumstances. Let’s take a look at the most important stages of the EDRM from a project management standpoint.

Identification

Project managers are key players in coordinating the effort to identify all data that may be potentially relevant to a specific matter. Ask specific questions of document custodians and walk through a comprehensive list of business and personal data sources – if a device has memory, keep it in your purview. In Coleman (Parent) Holdings v. Morgan Stanley, a 2005 Florida case, Morgan Stanley was unaware of where it stored its electronic data, and was thus sanctioned for discovery abuses. Morgan Stanley faced compensatory and punitive damages to the tune of $1.4 billion. It’s an extreme example, but nonetheless a pertinent one that shows what effective ediscovery project management should avoid.

 Collection & Preservation

This stage of the EDRM is the origin of many “gotchas” in the ediscovery process. It is certainly where most judicial sanctions stem from in the ediscovery realm. Project managers can help guide their organization and document custodians to a successful avoidance of preservation sanctions by ensuring that they know and comply with their obligations pertaining to a litigation hold. They may also play a key role in implementing and managing the organization’s overall retention plan before and during litigation.

 Early Data Assessment (EDA)

By this point in the ediscovery process, the body of knowledge that project managers have gained in coordinating the matter may qualify them as a subject matter expert and an invaluable resource to the legal analysis team. During the EDA process, ED project managers wear many hats and perform many functions. They often work with attorneys, other litigation support professionals and third party providers to separate data between critical and non-critical data groups, narrow the number of key players/custodians, test key search terms,  and identify critical case arguments.

 Review/Technology-assisted Review

Technology-assisted Review (TAR) is one of the most cost-effective, consistent and accurate methods by which to distill the mountains of data inevitably unearthed during major litigation or investigations. To connect back to the EDPM framework discussed in Part I of this post, project managers serve well to promote TAR when discussing process, budget and cost.

Production

So, you’ve finally reached the glorious end of your ediscovery project – production! Project managers (depending on where they sit) function as a useful link between the organization, counsel and the third party ediscovery provider. Many ED project managers are responsible for actually creating and validating productions. They may also ensure that the finished product gets delivered promptly and in its entirety to the appropriate party(ies).

Ediscovery Project Management – A Quick and Dirty Guide(Part I)

While there is a general misperception that project managers are merely drones moving mindlessly from task to task, the reality is that project managers play a critical role in the success of any project – particularly in ediscovery. The simple fact is that the effective execution of an ediscovery project is driven by process and reinforced by extensive preparation and organization speaks directly to the value of both strong ediscovery project managers and well thought out ediscovery project management methodology.

The Ediscovery Project Management (EDPM) framework consists of four important elements:

Determining Initial Scope

First thing’s first—it is important to understand the overall objectives as well as the legal requirements associated with any ediscovery project management matter.  Additionally, under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the parties are required to meet to discuss the scope and issues regarding discovery and particularly ediscovery. In this endeavor, parties must consider one another’s requests, pleadings and communications. Also, to avoid potential spoliation issues, it is critical to determine the parameters of the applicable litigation hold. Through the entire process, both sides must satisfy Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(g), which imposes a duty on the attorney to certify that he or she conducted a “reasonable inquiry” into the facts of the law supporting each discovery request.

Setting a Schedule

Singer Andy Partridge once stated, “We’re the ninjas of the mundane”—an apropos thought for project managers. Scheduling can be tedious, but it’s an all-too-important step in conducting a successful ediscovery project. Within the EDPM framework, the parties must set a project schedule (sometimes dictated by the Court and/or local/federal rules) and discuss that schedule with third party ediscovery providers. A critical element to consider in establishing a schedule is the nature and complexity of the data. And of course, never forget the power of the court to impose case management, scheduling orders, and status conferences.

 Budget/Cost

In the context of litigation, cost is balanced with evaluated risk and perceived value of winning OR controlling loss. The EDPM framework demands the development of an initial budget estimate, at which point the parties should consider valuation and risk tolerance. During the course of an ediscovery project, routinely monitor actual costs – a step that can be built into scheduling and communication plans. Finally, if a party believes that discovery will be unduly burdensome, that party should consider making a cost-shifting argument so that the other side must pay for their own request. Not only has recent case law supported cost-shifting (Vaughn v. LA Fitness), but it is bolstered by the proportionality standard of Rule 26(b)(2)(C).

Communications

Last but definitely not least, it is crucial in any ediscovery endeavor to maintain proactive communication between the end-client, counsel and third party providers. To accomplish this goal, create a reporting system and establish a communication plan – who should get what information when and from who. Account for geographic and time zone differences, allowing for 24/7 worldwide availability; doing so will pave the way for future successful projects.

 
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