I have heard stories from paralegals about the challenges they face in trying to establish effective and repeatable workflows at their firms around Electronically Stored Information (ESI) and moving it through the discovery process. Today’s eDiscovery Blues was inspired by one of these stories, where the attorney had always organized documents with binder clips, and when it came to emails, the paralegal had to print those out, so they could be organized as well.
Hopefully by now, in 2020, litigation support teams understand how to leverage technology to save time, ensure accuracy, and pass on savings to their clients, even when working with a combination of ESI and hard copy documents (read this excellent Case Study with Whitney Farrell at PPS&C on how they were able to do exactly that); but it still raises the issue of workflows not being regularly reviewed or even created in the first place. On a recent IPRO webinar about creating workflows, a poll showed that a majority of the audience were working on a case-by-case basis when it came to process.
Brittany Thaler is an expert on eDiscovery workflows: she worked as a paralegal for 13 years, taught in Everest College’s paralegal training program, and is currently on the IPRO training team. “In my former life as a paralegal,” she says, “that was my task: Create a workflow, create a template, create a chart of what litigation looks like from complaint to appeal with all the tools we have available – whether that was with or without discovery tools – and when to begin trial preparation.” She continues:
“The key to making a good workflow isn’t the creation part. It’s how it actually functions in the real world. Be mindful that eDiscovery is changing the way a traditional discovery is being governed. Keep up on those changes and modify your workflows accordingly.”
Workflows shouldn’t be written and then left to gather dust. They need to evolve. That’s why it’s a good best practice to schedule a regular workflow evaluation every 6 to 12 months, to see how your teams are using the workflows and templates you’ve provided. What’s working, what isn’t working? Are they even being used?
From this you can get input from everyone involved – paralegals, litigation support, and attorneys – so that you can build repeatable processes that don’t require your team to reinvent the wheel with each case, but instead ensure accurate and efficient outcomes each time.
For more on how paralegals can create an effective eDiscovery workflow,
Listen to this webinar: Becoming the Indispensable eDiscovery Practitioner