A Process Perspective on Litigation Support

(Ron Friedmann, June 2005)

The e-discovery explosion creates a risk that firms will lose sight of the larger litigation support picture. There may not be a single right way to “do lit supp” but firms should analyze their processes and strive to develop consistent guidelines.

The table below presents a framework for thinking about litigation support. Columns represent phases of a case and rows represent player roles, software involved, and issues to consider.

The text in each cell is merely suggestive. Each firm, indeed each case, may have different answers. Even the rows and columns can differ. The point though is twofold:

  1. Make explicit and informed litigation support decisions.
  2. Analyze processes at both a micro and macro level and strive to develop a consistent approach based on adherence to a set of guidelines that covers typical scenarios.
Collect Cull Process Review Produce Case Prep Trial
Vendor Role Primary Primary Primary Limited, unless using hosted system Print or format conversion Typically limited role Trial presentation; site support
Lit Supp Role Input Input to active involvement Input to active involvement Set up and tech support Tech support Tech support Tech support
Legal Assistant Role Supervise Input to active involvement Input to active involvement Searches; substantive support; monitor review progress Help select documents; assemble production sets; review, track Prep for depos; support all lawyer work Supervise vendors; coordinate all necessary tasks
Lawyer Role Guide Guide Guide Review strategy; doc-by-doc review Review production sets Drafting, depos, research, etc. Hands-on
Software In Use Outsource primarily; limited in-house Outsource or advanced semantic tool Outsource primarily; limited in-house Concordance, Summation, Ringtail, etc. OR Hosted solution Concordance, Summation, Ringtail, etc. OR Hosted solution Lit supp system; CaseMap; databases; other (e.g., decision trees) Trial presentation system (e.g., Sanction or Trial Director)
Issues to Consider
  • Supervision
  • Forensic collections
  • Scope of custodians and data sets
  • Data types
  • Chain of custody
  • Reduce volume prior to processing
  • Role of advanced search software
  • Native format v. TIFF or PDF
  • Collecting and using meta-data
  • Facilitating all-digital, on-screen review
  • Monitoring reviews
  • QC of lawyer work
  • Working with co-counsel
  • Redactions
  • Tracking productions
  • Production formats, including numbering
  • Working with co-counsel
  • Using database effectively to prep the case
  • Working with co-counsel
  • Integrating doc database to trial support system