Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Mikki Tomlinson. Published: 2011-11-29 16:37:22  I was happy to see Greg Buckles’ post Has eDiscovery Disenfranchised Our Paralegals.  The answer is, wholeheartedly, YES!  So, why am I happy?  I am happy because someone finally brought the topic up publicly. It is a very real problem that the legal industry needs to address.  Instead, however, we seem to be treating the subject as taboo or simply shrugging our shoulders.Buckles correctly identified the problem and how it came into existence.  It happened without anyone noticing.  The disconnect between paralegals and the litigation support process has caused significant tension within legal teams.  In my experience, this holds true in both law firms and in-house legal departments, as well as between outside and in-house counsel.Buckles also correctly identified the solution:  improved chain of custody processes that keep the stakeholders engaged and informed through every step of evidence handling.  In my opinion, this has little to do with technology and a lot to do with communication.  Yes, technology is a must when it comes to handling the e-discovery process. However, it is not worth much to a paralegal without proper communication:  communication by way of education; communication by way of clear documentation; and communication by way of setting appropriate expectations and outcomes.The current state of tension, frustration and confusion cannot be blamed on any one group.  The paralegals did not cause it; nor did litigation support teams or service providers.  It was a team effort.  The solution must be as well.  So, how do we get there?  Start with establishing a process for communication methods and milestones, and follow it up with technology that supports the process.Getting started is oftentimes the difficult part.  I have worked with law firms and corporate legal departments that have been stuck in “paralysis by analysis”.  Here are a couple of suggestions to help you get moving.A simple starting point is to establish a protocol for paralegal and attorney acknowledgement/approval at milestones.  For example, once the processing request form is complete, the paralegal and attorney must review and sign off before processing can begin.  This should be partof the documented workflow (click here for an excerpt of a sample workflow diagram).Another helpful way to get the ball rolling is to create an e-discovery glossary to distribute to all of the members of the legal team.  Along with this, designate a point person to respond to e-discovery questions and liaise between the paralegal and the litigation support teams.Finally, consider engaging a third-party expert to help you ferret out the core of your pain points, establish priorities, and develop anddocument a plan to keep you moving forward to success and synergy.This will take commitment – but it can be done.

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