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Electronic Discovery Institute Course - Class 26: Budgeting and Project Management

Here's a continuation of my postings about the Electronic Discovery Institute's online e-discovery certification program, that you can subscribe to for just $1. I last blogged about this program on July 21, 2018. Go to to sign up for it.

The course on Budgeting and Project Management is taught by Elizabeth Jaworski, the director of legal operations at Motorola; Shannon Capone Kirk, Ropes & Gray's electronic discovery counsel; and Chartlotte Riser Harris, a practice support manger for the Hess Corporation.

Budgeting Overview

Budgeting is important not just for in-house counsel, but for a law firm as well. A firm needs to be able to project what its profits will be. A litigation team must be educated on multiple factors that go into the estimation of a budget. A key factor is collection costs, which focus on how many custodians data will be collected from and what data sources ESI will be pulled from. An estimate should be obtained of the number of GBs to be collected. Document review is another area of concern. Estimates will have to be obtained from a vendor managing the contract attorneys. Collection, processing, hosting and review are the main areas for a budget estimate.

Jaworski feels that budget estimation has become more proactive. Questions must be asked about each aspect of electronic discovery before obtaining a total cost estimate.

Different monthly estimates may be given for keyword searching and predictive coding for document review, and these estimates should show how costs will rise or fall during over time.

A budget should be the result of discussions in a collaborative environment.

Project Management Overview

Litigation technology professionals, paralegals, and vendors must all be managed as part of team. Riser Harris believes that project management is essential to keep eDiscovery costs from spinning out of control. Good project management is necessary to ensure that deadlines are met and it can help reduce the amount of stress team members experience in meeting the project's goals.

Project managers should be brought in at the beginning of large projects, but are not necessary for every type of project. Riser Harris recommends that there be separate PMs at the law firm, the vendor, and the client company, and that one of those PMs should have overall control for a project.

Jaworski likes to use a RASCI chart. This is chart which tracks who is Responsible, who is Accountable, who is assigned to Support others, who must be Consulted, and who should be Informed). It can help each member of a team understand what they should be doing and what they should not be doing.

Capone Kirk recounted a case in which her team needed to reviewing 100 GBs of data. The review would have taken a couple of years using contract attorneys. A tri-part review with predictive coding; keyword searching; and concept searching reduced the time needed for review to a few months.

Jaworski believes that good communication on a project helps drive efficiency. Proper project management will allow for data to captured about the project's progress that can be fed back to managers.

The Project Management Institute provides a certification for project managers. Riser Harris believes that a project management education can provide eDiscovery PMs with helpful benchmarks, but that it's not wise to adhere strictly to project management models in the field of electronic discovery. She recommends hourly management of tasks performed on a project at its outset.

A good project manager will be agreeable but firm. The PM should have a certain skepticism about whether or not a project will proceed according to a plan.

A project management process will use information from prior matters to direct the overall scope of a new project at its beginning. There is a lot of information publicly available on eDiscovery projects throughout the industry.

A project manager will have to explain tools and methodologies that lawyers are generally unfamiliar with.

Good information on the location and date range of the data to be collected can help narrow the scope of a project.

The big risk with using new tools is people won't agree to adopt them.

Attorneys may need to be encouraged to think of their work as project management and not merely 'litigating'.

Attorneys should be bring litigation support teams to meetings with clients. They may end up being grateful when they don't have to deal with the daily demands of project management.

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