Firm resources

Balancing Internal and Law Firm Resources to Optimize eDiscovery | Association of Certified Electronic Discovery Specialists (ACEDS)

In any collaboration between internal eDiscovery teams and law firms, balancing resources is essential to effectively support client outcomes. On August 17, 2021, ACEDS Global Advisory Board Chairman Ari Kaplan moderated a panel discussion on this holistic process and best practices for improving communication between internal teams and law firms, vendors or external advice. The goal of this live chat was to share insights and provide a balanced view of how internal teams can collaborate with law firms to deliver the greatest value to their respective clients.

Amy Sellars, ACEDS Global Advisory Board Member, Associate General Counsel and Director of Cardinal Health’s Discovery Center of Excellence, suggested setting expectations and being specific from the start. Everyone needs to agree on how each organization collects, stores, and processes ISEs.

According to Clinton Sanko, shareholder of Baker Donelson, the first step in a new project is to determine whether a case is standard or extraordinary. If familiar, use existing processes and resources. For extraordinary cases, engage early in a partnership between the client’s and law firm’s internal discovery teams. Look for blind spots that don’t have a built-in process and advocate for these issues.

Susan Jackson, legal counsel for business, commercial and information governance matters at Novelis Corporation and a member of the ACEDS Global Advisory Board, emphasized the importance of involving all parties in every decision and in every conversation. With an open mind and a proactive attitude, all parties can effectively manage a project.

After emphasizing the need for early communication, guests discussed the issues that arose and the times when there was a disconnect. Sellars was inspired by George Bernard Shaw, replying that “the greatest communication problem is the illusion that has occurred.” Asking the right questions and establishing a schedule allows everyone to understand how the tasks will be carried out. It also sets an expectation for the meaning of “finished”. The panel agreed that direct conversation is often more effective than email and suggested that weekly interaction is ideal.

When asked about best practices for addressing conflict and differing viewpoints between parties in an eDiscovery project, Sanko suggested that conflict should be viewed as constructive as it reflects that everyone involved in the project are committed and care about the outcome.

This conversation offered an insightful look at how resources and responsibilities are distributed in a collaborative eDiscovery project, with particular emphasis on the value of early communication and resource allocation to effectively reveal blind spots. . Download an infographic of key takeaways and tips from “Balancing Law Firm and Internal Resources to Optimize eDiscovery.”