Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Kevin Esposito. Published: 2011-03-01 08:37:19Format, images and links may no longer function correctly. Greetings to all of the readers of the eDiscoveryJournal.  I’m pleased to join you as the newest correspondent and hope that you will find that what l share in this forum is useful.  Now that I’m here, I’m sure some of you are wondering, “Just what is an independent consultant going to share?”  Some may suspect that there will be a dry recitation of product reviews and hardware specs.  Some may worry that I’m going to belabor yet again subjects such as “Are instant messages ‘records’?”  And some that have heard me speak in public worry that I might just take off all the safeties and satirize what I see out there in the eDiscovery business world.  While the last is the most tempting, I personally hate when the Internet is used to push personal agendas.  No dear friends, I intend to do the practical thing and provide you with the “One Thousand Foot View”.

Some of you may already know that I am a licensed pilot.  My time behind the controls of an airplane has been both rewarding and instructive.  For many, the best part of a flight in a small airplane is in that first thousand foot interval.  When we take off from any airfield, it is around that 1,000 foot level when the passenger says for the first time, “Wow…..this is really cool”.  When we return from the flight it is at around 1000 feet from landing that we know our time together is over, the ride becomes smooth and the passenger says, “Wow…that was an experience”. Obviously, the REAL story is in what happens between the first 1000 feet and the last.

Whether it is working with clients, graduate students or placating small whining relatives (my sister is slightly over five foot), the most popular request is for me to teach some interesting facts through repeating small war stories that are culled from my experiences in the business world (see how I worked that eDiscovery term in there?).   Think back to your own time in college or law school.  Weren’t the best times when the professor started with “reminds me of the time when…”? 

I’ve always maintained that life is a series of trials and errors.  In this business, I’ve seen a lot of trials and believe me, I’ve seen lots of errors.  The point of these stories is not to ridicule or attempt to embarrass the people who have made such mistakes.  (That’s what the bar at LegalTech is for.)  Rather, it is my hope that by providing redacted real world examples, we can provide some insight into both good and bad operational processes and through that help you to stay out of the projects that get lampooned on other peoples’ blogs.

Flying is a lot like eDiscovery.  Once you get past that first 1,000 feet and make for the Flight Levels, the ride begins to get a lot bumpier.  You start to encounter headwinds that impede your progress.  You fight with other people for a chance to be heard by Air Traffic Control and you’re constantly on the lookout for the unprepared or the inattentive that might stray into your path and ruin your whole day.  It has been often said that flying is hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.  That sounds like life in a review room to me.  You can be going hours and hours without anything specific happening and then somebody shouts “He wrote WHAT in that email?”.  The adrenaline kicks in, your heart beats faster and you just know that you’re about three minutes away from either hitting something or hurling your cookies and you hope it’s only the latter.

I think that pilots and eDiscovery folk make the same mistake.  Due to the stress levels inherent in what we do we have been conditioned to try to set people’s minds at rest and reassure them that everything is under control.  Consequently, we’ve always tried to make what we do “look easy”.   What load of crap.  What we do is freakin’ HARD and it’s not a sin to say so.  No – you don’t have to go to Charlie Sheen extremes to get across that what we’re doing isn’t for the faint of heart, but you don’t need to act as though all those years we spent in preparation or our years of experience were unnecessary either.   

I hate it when pilots answer the question “Is it safe?” with “Sure it is…it’s easy anyone can do it”.  My response is “No – it’s not safe, but that’s why I spent hundreds of hours getting the proper training, spend thousands of dollars per year on equipment maintenance and will pour over charts and information to find the safest route possible for us”.  I mean come on – just look into the cockpit the next time you take a flight somewhere.  Can you figure out what ANY of the gauges mean?  I’d bet you couldn’t get the damn thing started, let alone get it off the ground.  As a result, however, you trust the trained people up front to get you to your destination and when the ride gets rough over the Mississippi, you don’t tap them on the shoulder and ask to change direction or equipment.

It should be the same with eDiscovery.  Rather than tell every client that it’s easy to get through terabytes of data and come up with the smoking gun, we should be prepared to explain that we have extensive training, dedicated people, a huge investment in hardware and maintenance and we’ll do our best to find the right path to bring them to the result that they want.  As with the passengers in the plane, we know they don’t want to run the servers or sit at a document review console.  Unlike the passengers, however, when you begin to hit turbulence they are all too quick to point out new directions or new equipment to jump to.  We probably have done a bad job of educating them on ALL of our complexities and we need to get better at that.

So through these posts in the eDiscovery Journal we’ll try to provide you with information that will assist you in riding out the turbulent times.  Every engagement begins with that sense of purpose – that first 1,000 feet when everything is “cool”.  Let’s see if we can work together to find a way to get people to that last 1,000 feet where they appreciate the difficulties but are satisfied with the experience.  If there’s an experience you’d like to share anonymously or a question you’d like to see explored, please email me here at Kevin@ediscoveryjournal.com

            Now fasten your seatbelts…    

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