DS5.0 Takeaways: Process is Still King

Last week we had approximately 50 of our discovery clients and colleagues in Nashville for Counsel On Call’s annual Discovery Symposium. It was a brief but content-rich event where 75 of the brightest, on-the-ground in-house counsel, discovery managers and IT leaders met to discuss challenges they’re facing and how they’re addressing them. You can see the agenda here.

We all learn so much every time this group assembles, and 2013 was no different. We dove into the mechanics of predictive coding and machine-based learning, the cloud and its discovery and technology challenges, proportionality, chain of custody, information governance, and a host of other topics that were widely (and productively) debated. But the one subject that stood out more than the others was the continued focus on process.

No matter where our clients are in building their litigation hold, collection, technology deployment or review processes, they’re always seeking points of reference and best practices. I’m convinced there’s no another event where these issues are discussed so openly, and the true spirit of helping one another is so much at the forefront. And from that starting point, we truly took away some great nuggets. A few examples: 

  • One transportation client detailed how designing, rolling out and implementing their litigation hold process took approximately 120 days. The client’s biggest tip: evaluate the effectiveness of the process 30-60 days afterwards, instead of waiting 180 days as they did. The process was working well but like anything needed tweaking once it was in use.
  • Security continues to be the biggest concern surrounding the cloud, but in-house counsel needs to become well-versed in its application because we will all be using it on an enterprise level (in some way) sooner rather than later. Process is essential to getting IT and legal on the same page and using all of the simple access features available. It’s better to be in early than late.
  • We discussed the TD Bank case at length, and while there are several obvious lessons to learn about process there, the discussion on the delegation of responsibilities (and having clear processes in place to identify who is responsible for what) were powerful.
  • Most attendees seemed to be comfortable with their models regarding the left side of the EDRM, but the right side (review) is still a major focus. They are looking for ways to further reduce the costs involved with the most expensive part of the discovery process. They’re focusing these efforts on technology and reliable, small teams of attorneys.

After coordinating and participating in five of these now, it’s clear that the knowledge level of our attendees has grown exponentially over that time. It’s just a fun event to be a part of, and when attendees truly want to help one another it creates a special environment.

We’re already planning for DS6.0 next May – if you want to be involved, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us (And like developing a process, the sooner the better).


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