Scoring the Goal: Developing an eDiscovery Game Plan

July 2019 | Article

We just finished a crazy month of soccer, the FIFA Women’s World Cup is over with the United States retaining the trophy and all I can think about is that beautiful game. How this seemingly chaotic mess of people running across a field is a team focused on one objective—to secure the ball inside the net, score for their country and return home with a trophy.

And the more I thought about it, watching these plays being executed, the more I started to realize that eDiscovery is like soccer.

The Goal of eDiscovery
In order to get to the end, you must make key moves in order to obtain the information you want—or put the ball in the net. Much like soccer, obtaining your goal is never quite as simple as “request, obtain, deliver” (“kick, shoot, score”). Soccer and eDiscovery (or football to everyone outside the United States of America) have a long and complex history.

Both have experienced multiple changes to their rules and practices throughout their history, but the basics have stayed the same. The end-goal of eDiscovery is to obtain requested information for use in pre-emptive or onset litigation. Whereas the ultimate end-goal of a soccer match is to get the ball in the back of the net, or to score more points than your opponent. 

A key component for both end results is the players that will allow you to get the information you need; each person on the team has a specific role to play and all need to be directed by a coach. Also, eDiscovery does not have to be a costly affair, and the easiest way to prevent rising costs is to organize a game plan.

Who has the information? Who is in charge of getting the information? Who will review and submit all the data once it is acquired? Three key areas whose roles and methodology are developed by the coach.

Defining Roles
Determining who in the organization is going to fulfill each role and outsourcing as needed to maintain your business is critical. These roles and strategies are assigned by the team coach—the organization’s CEO.

When dealing with eDiscovery, the first person to be notified will be the head of the organization. Once they understand the scope of what is needed, they will most likely confer with the organization’s legal council about the best course of action and the most cost-effective way of performing their legal obligations.

Next steps include assigning personnel to retrieve the information from each of the custodians in the manner that best preserves the information. Hiring third party experts to collect, preserve, filter, sort, and host that information, as well as provide legal with reviewable copies before final production. These steps may sound easy to do but can weigh down the eDiscovery process and end up costing the company thousands of dollars due to miscommunication, poor assignments and lack of support.

These three areas are the defenders, midfielders and forwards. Players are assigned specific positions on the field that are best suited to getting the ball—data—into the net.

At the very back near your own goal are your defenders, these should be the people most responsible for determining what needs to be done and who should do it. Any deviation from the plan that brings unwanted data to their side should be sent away in proper defensive fashion. This is the group that represents and protects your company during this eDiscovery process.

You have your midfielders who are the relay point of the data. They can rush to the forefront of the field or to the back to assist as needed delivering key information and input as necessary. While they are not usually the stars of the show, they are the ones who do the most work and can help you meet deadlines.

At the front of the field are the forwards, these are the professionals who know exactly how to deliver the information and provide the appropriate finesse to get the exact information you need—or in other words a goal.

A Flexible Game Plan
Much like an actual soccer match, the movement of all these players can be fluid. Changing rapidly as the scope or request for information exceeds what was initially presented. It’s understandable that amidst ongoing or potential litigation a business cannot be expected to simply stop all processes to fulfill these obligations.

That is why it is important to establish a game plan. That is not even a play on words­—it is literally called an eDiscovery game plan for a reason.

Hopefully this has pointed out that while eDiscovery may seem daunting at first, all it takes to be successful is a manager to organize the perfect team. By doing this, before you know it your organization will be raising its own trophy in victory. To learn more about the eDiscovery model and how to formulate a plan, feel free to give one of our representatives a call. We operate by the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) standards and more information can be seen in our related articles about knowing the limitations of eDiscovery and maintaining a cost-effective eDiscovery.

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