Investment in eDiscovery without regular and effective training can have negative implications for the results you achieve.
According to recent research, many highly regulated firms such as those in the finance and pharmaceutical sectors fall short when it comes to the provision of eDiscovery training. In many cases, eDiscovery teams have resorted to taking training into their own hands. Quite why this trend exists is not entirely clear. But it could be the result of a lack of focus on granular processes in some organisations by in-house legal departments.
Why is eDiscovery training so important?
To ensure electronic evidence remains legally defensible
The process of searching, organising, reviewing, and analysing ESI is technically and legally complex, and critical to litigation success. Despite its importance, many organisations, still fail to invest in dedicated staff to carry out the eDiscovery process, and hence it is often paralegal and legal executives who are placed in charge of implementing such projects. Without proper training, they may lack the skills needed to carry out the process in a legally defensible manner. For example, due to lack of training, users may fail to understand the importance of preserving metadata, which in itself can be vital to the preservation of evidence. Simply by opening a document, or moving it to another location, metadata can be altered and rendered useless.
Maturity requires expertise
As is illustrated by the EDRM maturity model, organisations undertaking eDiscovery can vary from chaotic to integrated and organised. One of the core criteria on which maturity is assessed is expertise; the extent to which the organisation has legal and IT proficiency capable of undertaking eDiscovery projects. Another is the focus; is the organisation just ‘getting it done’ or is there a highly organised and joined-up approach? Ultimately eDiscovery training can boost both measures, by minimising the need to use ‘trial and error’ and learn the bad practice from the outset, which can then be difficult to unlearn. By understanding the EDRM process and the core principles of eDiscovery at all levels, staff can ensure they can play a part in building the organisation’s maturity from day one.
Importance of testing your results
One of the fundamental aspects of effective eDiscovery is the need to identify search terms which will elicit the essential results. This can require the use of complex searches and logic, to filter out results which are not relevant and include those that are. Testing is then needed to ensure that the final terms are valid. As such, staff undertaking eDiscovery projects need to understand how to construct searches and test the results, to ensure the best possible outcomes are achieved.
eDiscovery software solutions vary considerably
While the EDRM may be universally applicable in eDiscovery, staff members will require training on the specific software used by your organisation. Each software package varies in terms of the user interface layout, the terminology used, complexity, and tools available, among many other factors. Because a member of staff has experience of using Relativity (for example) in a previous organisation, doesn’t mean they will automatically know how to use any other solution. Some solutions are locally installed, whereas others are cloud-based, which itself can pose new challenges to the user. To this end, we recommend ensuring that users of eDiscovery software receive training which is specific to the product being used, and ideally in accordance with how it is implemented and used within your organisation, for maximum effect.
How can eDiscovery training be delivered?
Training courses are available from eDiscovery software vendors, consultancy firms, and specialist corporate training businesses.
But before proceeding with a programme of eDiscovery training, the needs of your business should be considered from several angles:
- Who are the main user types? – i.e. end-users such as legal investigators and IT administrators
- The level of existing in-house skills – this will help determine if you need to use outside trainers or if you can rely on existing team members
- The number of staff to be trained – if the number is very low, you may consider sending them to an external training course (which will also reduce the cost). If the number is higher, you may hire a specialist trainer.
- Do you have the necessary equipment on which to train staff?
- Do you have in-house eDiscovery processes which are specific to your organisation – if so, you will need to ensure the training provided takes any nuances in the way your organisation runs eDiscovery projects into account?
Whether you elect to use external or internal training resources, you also need to consider how to ensure that the training provided is kept up to date and reflects any new processes and procedures you have implemented.
It cannot be overstated how important regular and effective training is in the application of eDiscovery for any organisation. Training will ensure several benefits are realised; the eDiscovery process will be completed sooner, in a legally defensible manner, the method will be consistent for all litigation projects, and a higher level of relevant disclosure will be achieved.
Lineal is a global leader in eDiscovery. To find out more about our services, please call us on +44 (0)20 7940 4799 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.