Editors Note: I spoke with Jared Coseglia from Tru Staffing Partners earlier this year about the role of mentorship in eDiscovery. Jared then told me about the scholarship program he put together with Georgetown University Paralegal Studies and DTI/LitWorks. I thought it would be interesting to track their experience and career as they go through the program and also how it impacts their prospects in the job market. Here is the first article from Janice Hollman.
I live in Oregon. Think grey, rainy, cold, weather all winter long, especially during this last winter. We have had little to no summer and a great deal of winter. Due to this, some might think spending three days in a classroom submerged in Litigation Support Project Management processes while the sun was out would be difficult. Instead, I enjoyed every minute of it. The opportunity to attend the LitWorks litigation support project management class on scholarship was a special opportunity for me. I was interested for two reasons. One, I teach a paralegal program as well as work in the industry. The education of formal litigation support project management methodology is missing in most law firms and in education. A trend in job announcements over the past few years has shown the request for a PMP certification. While I think some of the PM skills are certainly helpful, they do not clearly address the needs of eDiscovery vendors or law firms. Second, I love to learn and continually add to my knowledge base. The more competitive the job market, the better set of skills you need to have in order to continue to be a resource.
While I have 20 years of work experience in business and IT project management, I was interested to learn how litigation support project management could be used to drive more efficiency, and if it could really help get work done.
I found that legal project management is complex. You really need to be able to think in 3D. You have the law firm side, the corporate side and the vendor side. While I have spent a great deal of my career on the corporate legal side utilizing IT project management methodology, I never realized how different it would be trying to apply the core principles to law firms. Some processes fit and others just don’t.
For example, in a vendor scenario the intake process needs to be specific and repeatable. You need checklists and a way to document, and store the information gathered so it is accessible to the parties who need it. In a firm scenario, cases come in with different legal variables and those variables change frequently.
You always need to know the nature of the case, timelines and data details, but from that point, the project trail merges into different lanes. The first point of contact with a vendor is almost always the sales rep. In the law firm, it could be a partner, or any number of lawyers. The question emerges as to how you take a firm of 30 attorneys and get them all to follow the same process? This question emerged day after day. The question of whether attorneys need to be only attorneys or if they must learn a good bit about technology in order to survive? Also, how do you get attorneys to partner with litigation support so that they are a part of the process from the beginning so the lit. support folks can work all their magic from the start?
After taking this course I could not fathom how firms, vendors and corporations can get by without using some type of formalized project methodology. Planning is the key, and without a budget, schedule or documented procedures it seems like you would be setting yourself up for failure.
eDiscoveryJournal Contributor: Janice Hollman