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ATTORNEYS’ GUIDE TO PRE-TRIAL PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Attorneys’ Guide to Pre-Trial Project Management

What do you think of when you hear the phrase, “Project Management?”  We all know that it pertains to handling the overall elements of a particular venture – but what goes into proper management during the discovery phase of Litigation?  Are your expectations in-line with those of the professionals managing the data in your matter?  They should be – in fact, according to ABA Rule 1.1 (Competence), thoroughness andpreparation account for 50% of the characteristics of a competent attorney.

ABA Rule 1.1 – Competence

Here are 5 tips to ensure that your project manager is acting in the best interest of your discovery milestones, and your overall litigation goals.

Data Collection Efforts

Your team of project support personnel should have a comprehensive understanding as to potentially responsive data.  This includes – the subject matter of the case, where potentially responsive data may reside, how much data may be anticipated, the proper method for collecting such identified-discovery, and means for pre-collection culling of the data-set(s).

Today, data presents itself in multiple formats and can reside all around us.  It is not uncommon to have more data reside in the proverbial cloud, than stowed locally on servers and/or office workstations.

A good discovery project manager will know the right questions to ask in order to quickly identify the relevant sets of files, and suggest means to assess and reduce the data by using mapping exercises, keywords, domain-exclusions, de-duplication, analytics, and more.

Preparing the Data for Review

Once the data has been pre-culled and collected, your project management team should be able to inventory the files collected and prepare the data necessary for processing.

Processing is the phase in which technology, and case-by-case human process, is applied to files, to – expand, de-duplicate, deNIST, extract & isolate text/images/metadata, report on errors/exceptions/encryption, and more.

Once the data is properly prepared for hosting, the project management team should be able to suggest a logical order as to load the data in the system.  During this time, counsel will want to confer with the discovery project manager(s) as to anticipated methods of review-attack, and determine if data needs to be isolated, coded, tagged, etc., in advance of the document review phase.

Choosing the Document Review Platform

Today, there are numerous options when it comes to reviewing documents/data during discovery.  Frankly, some cases warrant a quick, cursory review of hard-copies or loose files, in minutes.

Still, other reviews warrant the use of web-based tools that allow for secure, remote user access, offering all the bells and whistles of advanced culling, tagging and analytics, over the course of months.  This will come down to the proportional relationship between – case-exposure, scope, budget, volume of data, and time.

Regardless of the approach you select, a valuable project manager will save you time and money in coming to a more informed decision, based on the aforementioned factors.

Producing the Responsive Data

When it comes time to produce, you will want to work with a discovery management team that understands the nuances of production.  For instance, what court orders and/or stipulations depict the method of production?  Are files to be produced as images, or will all (or some) files require a native-production?  Is there a production deadline, and can the data be produced on a rolling basis?

Some attorneys do not consider these items when meeting/conferring on the matter, early on, and having a competent pre-trial project manager at your side can easily alleviate the stress that may come, down the road.

When it comes to productions, it is also imperative to document items that were flagged for potentially responsive at the outset, however, do not make the production protocol.  This could be because of corruption, password protection, third-party proprietary files, confidentiality issues, privilege, and more.

In these cases of production-exceptions, a good project manager will be able to establish a detailed log (typically one for each hold-back reason), and ensure that placeholders are applied to the production set(s) to maintain a proper notice of items withheld.  The logs should be descriptive enough to support your withholding, however, not giving up actual privilege or confidential text, itself, whether redacted or removed in its entirety.

If the tribunal eventually requires the production of some data withheld, your discovery support team can reference the log details and correspond the entries with the exact document, securely hosted, using unique file identification.

 

Project Management Reporting

ALL project managers should have a good and comfortable practice with reporting the actions taken during their litigation support services.  Whether an initial milestone report, data inventory logs, exception sheets, or a close-out report; regular recurring reports are crucial to maintain a record for good reference in the case, and securing the defensibility element of good litigation practice.

Today, most litigation support tools afford convenient ways to kick-out reports, pertaining to inventory, exceptions, data-hosted, and production logs.  However, these reports tend to be unpolished and raw, and not easily digested by the end-clients.  A helpful discovery project manager will be able to interpret these metrics and draft a more understandable report(s) that will meet the requirements of counsel and their team.

After all, some folks prefer to be briefed via teleconference, while others will want 24/7/365 access to a shared report, regularly update.  Pre-Trial management teams should be able to understand, and adapt to, the differences between the attorney firms they support, and make attorneys’ lives easier during litigation.

Attorneys’ Guide to Pre-Trial Project Management

At LITeGATION, we know the process of Pre-Trial Support and how important it is to manage data in an efficient, cost-effective way.  We pride ourselves on intimate case-by-case dealings with our clients and have extensive experience during the discovery phase of litigation.  For Pre-Trial Project Management or any litigation support service, contact us today for a free consultation.

 

James Cortopassi

James Cortopassi

James Cortopassi brings nearly 20 years of eDiscovery experience to his practice as a leader in litigation support and eDiscovery coordination. Mr. Cortopassi has managed thousands of cases involving forensic collections, data processing & hosted solutions, managed document review, ESI productions, trial technology services, and workflow-innovation. Mr. Cortopassi is a member of the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS).
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4 REASONS YOU NEED TO REHEARSE WITH A MOCK JURY – BEFORE YOUR TRIAL

4 Reasons you Need to Rehearse with a Mock Jury – Before your Trial

We all know that every professional sports’ team goes into game-day after practicing the plays, signals, researching the opponent, preparing for the venue, etc.  Take the NFL, for example.  Teams practice for six days before a mere 3-hour game, which follows.  Clearly, a trial will last longer than three hours, and is more substantial than a “game,” and the trial-rehearsal necessary is only a fraction of the time of the actual trial itself.  This is why, more than ever, lawyers are taking advantage of the benefits of a few hours of mock jury exercises.

mock jury

 

Whether the trial takes place, or not, you may be well informed and settlement-ready if you take a day to conduct a mock jury proceeding.  Mock Jury events give litigators the knowledge-base needed to determine which messages are sticking, which arguments are working best, which mannerisms should be avoided, and the juror characteristics that are best for the case.

Here are 4 reasons you need a mock jury before entering the trial.

Find Your Flaws

Mock Jury rehearsal allows you to apply your knowledge of the case, and test out what works for you and your client’s position, while learning from the experiences in a safe environment.

Try Something New

Rehearsing before a mock jury is important because it allows you to practice different theories, claims or defenses, before you actually deliver the total speech to a jury at trial.  Some jurors will surprise you as to what penetrates and what should be avoided.

Perfect Your Flow

When you practice your position in front of a mock jury, you are ultimately able to put the effective-parts together to create a total speech and practice before eventually delivering it in front of the trial-audience.  We can all use some rehearsal on our public speaking skills, especially with the different juror pools you can expect from venue to venue.

Receive Honest Feedback

Mock Jury exercises afford various forms of feedback, which is typically recorded, for the litigator to make the necessary adjustments to their case-strategies.  Most mock juror sessions end with a verdict questionnaire, Q&A exercises, and feedback for specific evidence and theories.

When all is said and done, rehearsal provides opportunities to apply knowledge to practice different parts, see what works, and then put it together for a total, effective position, for your opening, examination, and closing.

For more information in-line with such mock jury services, or to learn more about our other litigation support solutions, please visithttps://www.litegation.com.

Source: Boundless. “The Importance of Rehearsing.” Boundless Communications. Boundless, 26 May. 2016.

James Cortopassi

James Cortopassi

James Cortopassi brings nearly 20 years of eDiscovery experience to his practice as a leader in litigation support and eDiscovery coordination. Mr. Cortopassi has managed thousands of cases involving forensic collections, data processing & hosted solutions, managed document review, ESI productions, trial technology services, and workflow-innovation. Mr. Cortopassi is a member of the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS).
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SOCIAL MEDIA – A Key Component of eDiscovery Litigation

SOCIAL MEDIA – A Key Component of eDiscovery Litigation

In eDiscovery practice, nearly every set of interrogatories, and document requests, reference emails and their attachments, as well as electronically stored information (ESI) and documents.  But what about the volumes of social media posts, that often represent the authors’ actions, words, subject matter knowledge, personality, hobbies, opinions, and physical & mental circumstances?

Isn’t discovery the procedural means to identify those very elements, and see how they may fit into the claims/defenses of a case, in the ultimate pursuit of justice?  Are there any more actual, current expressions of one’s present and past individualities?  I submit to you, there are not.

Regularly, discovery requests and interrogatories reflect the potentially responsive data that goes to the heart of the claims/defenses, yet seldom inquire as to social media relevance – let alone, a litigation hold that specifically addresses social media accounts and their preservation.

Social media posts matter, and they need to be considered during all eDiscovery litigation.

Today, a single post (text, photo, video, etc.) can say a thousand words – more telling, perhaps, than a voluminous set of answered-interrogatories, or hours of deposition examination, in many cases.  These ever so fast moving, cloud-based personal yet public outlets, attract the use of over 74% of online adults – everyday.*

social media ediscovery

So why is counsel so hesitant to request social media during discovery? Perhaps, they are not sure as to the process and/or costs involved in capturing social media?  Fortunately, there are efficient, cost effective ways to identify, preserve, capture, export and produce social media account information, and use the findings in the pursuit of justice.

Identify Prominent Accounts

First, identify any/all social media account(s) that may have been used to communicate information pertaining to the litigation.  And while there is an inherent requirement for the preservation of data that may be responsive to a case at bar, it doesn’t hurt to remind your adversary within the appropriate pleadings or during proceedings.  We must fight the urge to request all account posts, as the reasonable request must continue to abide by rules of procedure and pass proportionality-muster of the court.

This is accomplished by one of two ways:

  1. Ask the party about their social media presence within interrogatories and/or other discovery practices.
  2. Have pre-existing knowledge as to what key accounts are being used, by way of initial investigation of public profile availability.

Eliminate the Clutter

Next, you will want to limit the social media posts, photos, videos, etc., by searching for keywords or phrases, date parameters and other metadata, that touch/concern the case at bar.  This means of culling should be just as easy as your attempt to have an isolated and culled set of ESI, emails and attachments, produced during discovery.  You will not be provided with many, if any, account credentials, so your social media discovery will be based on public-facing profiles, and posts that are not password protected.

Process Your Data

Finally, decide the format in which you will want the social media eDiscovery produced.  Today, social media collections can easily be exported as load files, and imported into a database management solution.  In the alternative, and when convenient to the discovery process, social media captures can be searched and organized within the capturing platform, and produced as images/PDFs, and simply forwarded by link, media or other file transfers.

social media ediscovery

Attorneys need to consider all avenues of eDiscovery and, today, there may be no more relevant source of discovery as social media accounts’ posts, photos and videos.  When you combine the efficient means, very much in-line with other collection and preservation methods for ESI, with that of the reasonable cost of capturing social media (when weighed against the exposure of the case); it is a proportionality decision to be made by attorney firms and their clients.  For social media collections, eDiscovery, or any other litigation support service, contact us on our website or by phone for a free consultation.

 

*Citation: Pew Research Center

James Cortopassi

James Cortopassi

James Cortopassi brings nearly 20 years of eDiscovery experience to his practice as a leader in litigation support and eDiscovery coordination. Mr. Cortopassi has managed thousands of cases involving forensic collections, data processing & hosted solutions, managed document review, ESI productions, trial technology services, and workflow-innovation. Mr. Cortopassi is a member of the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS).

Data Mapping & Identification: 4 Steps to Success

Data Mapping & Identification: 4 Steps to Success

During discovery, you cannot properly analyze what you have collected, until you fully consider why and how it has been collected.  Here’s what you can do to increase your data recall and precision, well before you acquire your actual review set.

STEP 1: Conduct a thorough investigation as to the location of stowed data.

Does the potentially responsive data reside locally, within some easily identifiable server or workstation, or, in the alternative; does data reside in the cloud, accessible via a web-based application?  Getting an answer to this important question is just the beginning to proper infrastructure mapping – and depending on your answer, a certain approach to collection will have to be established.  Once your team can assemble a map of data locations, shares, and user-access & permissions, you can determine the initial areas of interest, where responsive data most likely resides.

Data Mapping and Identification

STEP 2:  Understand the established administrators, data-stewards, and those who have general modification access, to such data.

These individuals will be important for many reasons, including: good source for investigation as to the quality, substance and history of the data; potential deponents in the matter; and will assist in identifying other areas where data may reside and/or have been accessed, like personal devices.  A complete understanding as to user-access will result in a more cost effective, proper collection.

STEP 3:  Consider data retention, destruction & archiving policies.

Most organizations (parties to a litigation) will have an established set of policies that depict the lifecycle of data, after the expiration of a certain period of time.  It will be crucial to consider the policy terms, and be sure to implement or demand a litigation hold, as to avoid the destruction of potentially responsive data.  Furthermore, data stowed locally will typically warrant separate procedures from that of the ESI stored on the cloud.

STEP 4:  Consider hard-copies, that may supplement or replace electronically stored information.

For instance, responsive documents may also reside, in whole or in part, within files cabinets, folders, binders, etc.  Here, you will need to understand the relationship of data-to-documents, and if there is cross over and/or gaps between the two.  This process requires deep investigation as to the professionals (IT, business and legal) that understand the locations, access, substance and potential privacy, of such data.  Most litigation support vendors will be able to normalize the data/documents, and make all available on one useable platform.

Data Mapping and Identification

Taking the time to map-out your data acquisition plan will prove to be a wise decision, and ultimately increase the value of your discovery plan and speed of analysis.  Moreover, considering a litigation support team will only help to ensure the best outcome for whatever you are up against during the collection phase. Whether understanding the location of, access to, or format in which data is stored, a proper plan can make the difference between winning and losing a case. For data mapping, collections, or any other litigation support services, contact us on our website or by phone for a free consultation.

James Cortopassi
James Cortopassi

James Cortopassi brings nearly 20 years of eDiscovery experience to his practice as a leader in litigation support and eDiscovery coordination. Mr. Cortopassi has managed thousands of cases involving forensic collections, data processing & hosted solutions, managed document review, ESI productions, trial technology services, and workflow-innovation. Mr. Cortopassi is a member of the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS).