From big data to the “Black Swan” event, there are several underlying factors driving change in eDiscovery. This offers both a challenge and an opportunity.
On one hand, 67% of law firms in the Am Law 200 reported an increase in workload around eDiscovery and litigation according to research conducted by consulting firm The Cowen Group. On the other hand, David Cowen, the firm’s managing partner, says an advanced understanding the process and tools for managing the eDiscovery process is a path towards making legal professionals indispensable.
The research and advice was presented on a recent CLE webinar (slides embedded below) titled Case Organization, Analysis and Presentation. The webinar focused on presentation software in the context of the EDRM lifecycle. There were several questions from attendees and also tips during the webinar that seem valuable to share broadly.
1. What is presentation software?
Tools for presentation sit on the right hand side of the EDRM continuum. Software, such as the LexisNexis® Sanction® solution (3 minute video demonstration here), is used by litigators to develop compelling presentations for trial. Using the ‘needle in a haystack’ analogy, the presenters described the process like this:
- Early case analysis. Reducing a volume of data down to just one “haystack.” Often in the early stages, the volume of data can be the equivalent of multiple – perhaps hundreds – of haystacks. The data often resides in emails, duplicate threads, databases and other sources of online or electronically stored information.
- Review and production. Finding the “needles” in that haystack – the important pieces of information that will become the foundation of a case in trial. Often, there’s more than one proverbial needle in a case and are sometimes related to each other in some manner.
- Organization and analysis. This is the process of analyzing key documents, facts and issues and linking them together. It understands how the “needles” impact one another.
- Presentation. This is the final stage and constituted the majority of the webinar – it refers to the process of weaving the needle together to develop a compelling story. This is what the judge and jury will see in the courtroom.
2. What is the difference between case management and presentation tools?
Case management software, such as the Time Matters® solution, is a category of practice management software aimed at the back office functions of a law firm. Case management can contain all of the information related to a client file, from intake to billing. In other words, it’s an electronic briefcase of sorts complete with advanced folders, billing tools and reporting.
Presentation software, on the other hand, is solely focused on presenting a case in a courtroom. The outcome of that presentation might be rendered in the form of a (hopefully favorable) finding that goes into a case file when a matter is closed or resolved.
3. What are the factors a firm should consider in acquiring presentation software?
The webinar presenters offered a range of tips and noted the importance of making a careful decision the firm can stick with. This is because once a staff becomes experienced with how a program works, the team will be more efficient with it saving the firm time and the client money.
Factors suggested included:
- Collaboration. Look for products that support team collaboration.
- Integration. Products that integrate with case management or review software for example, provide an “end-to-end” experience that fosters efficient workflow.
- Key features. The abilities to search and annotate evidence – especially on the fly in a courtroom – are critical requirements. Presentation software should also come with powerful reporting tools and the capability to produce compelling visual displays and timelines.
4. What are some best practices for using presentation software in trial?
The more complex the case, the more pragmatic it may be to use presentations software. The value proposition is helping a jury understand the relationships in complex data. The presenters recommended:
- Visit the courtroom. A pre-trial visit is encouraged to ensure the location can support the audio and visual requirements of a presentation. In addition, one presenter noted some jurisdictions require orders to bring presentation software into a courtroom.
- Rehearse the presentation. It might seem obvious, but when a deadline is looming it’s easy to let rehearsals slide. A rehearsal provides for a more effective presentation because, for example, it allows a paralegal or other support staff to be prepared for the right “keystrokes” at the right point in an attorney’s presentation.
- Bring your data. Litigation teams ought to be prepared for anything. The panelists suggested bringing a laptop with all of the relevant data with analysis software, in order to be able to search and retrieve documents during a trial.
- Bring backup projection. An old fashioned overhead projector is a good backup plan. One presenter noted there have been occasions when a question over a document came up that wasn’t in the presentation and the team was able to project the document for consideration the old fashioned way.
5. What are some other sources of information on eDiscovery?
The panel made several suggestions for advancing general eDiscovery knowledge. These include the following:
- News sites. The group specifically cited Legaltech News and The Legal Intelligencer – both are publications produced by ALM. We’d add to the list of resources: The PinHawk Technology Daily Digest (email newsletter) and Litigation Support Today.
- Tradeshows. ALM produces the LegalTech tradeshow which supports events on both the east and west coast and is a good place to find the latest technology. ITLA has an annual conference as well and features “peer groups” dedicated to litigation support. The team also suggested the The Sedona Conference as an additional resource.
- Organizations and blogs. There were a number of supplemental sources that came with endorsements form the panelists. These included:
* * *
- YouTube Friday: eDiscovery Explained Simply
- 6 Staggering Big Data Statistics Pave the Way for eDiscovery
- 5 Statistics Forecasting the Future of eDiscovery
- 5 Steps on the Road to Leveraging Machine Intelligence in Legal
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