What to Look for in a Project Manager
The fundamental prerequisites should include an understanding of legal principles to help you strategize, as well as the technical skills to bring the latest technology to your discovery process. Many project managers have credentials including a J.D. and a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute. The best project managers stay on top of changes to technology and case law affecting discovery, particularly electronic discovery, because of its evolving status.
What Project Management Offers
The discovery phase of a case is just like any other project, it requires proper management to stay on schedule and on budget. Electronic discovery is a great example of an evolving and complex field - with legal and technical implications - and is perfect for project management principles. The new amendments to the Federal Rules complicate electronic discovery and impose new requirements. Project managers can help you stay afloat in this area.
Some duties the amendments address include:
- Early Action - Under F.R.C.P. 26(f), parties need to meet and confer, at least 21 days before a scheduling conference is held or a scheduling order is due, to discuss issues relating to preserving discoverable information, developing a proposed discovery plan, inadvertent disclosure, and form of production.
- Discovery of Reasonably Accessible Electronically Stored Information - Amendment F.R.C.P. 26(b)(2)(B) distinguishes between accessible and inaccessible data categories and provides that you only need to produce reasonably accessible data.
For example, project management skills can help you meet the obligations under the new Federal Rules by:
- Providing technical experience and developing a plan to work with your IT staff to get your arms around your data.
- Determining what data categories the data falls into and whether the data is accessible and, consequently, whether you have a duty to produce the data.
- Helping you understand the implications of different forms of production and recommending the best forms of production for your case to avoid pitfalls such as inadvertent production of privileged material.
Commentators and judges are indicating that specific details will be required to resolve a discovery dispute. Hence, project managers can develop a plan and track the specifics to understand:
- The scope of your data
- How to collect your data to avoid spoliation
- How to preserve your data
- What terms, and variations of the terms, can be used to cull your document collection to reveal only relevant documents
- How effective your search terms are - for example, do you have missed detections or false positives?
- How to remove your duplicates effectively from the document collection
- Your relevancy and privilege review rates
- Which forms of production capture the relevant data
Project managers will also track these terms, provide metrics to you, enhance communication, and provide the important oversight necessary to keep your discovery schedule on track.