Tips From An eDiscovery Road Warrior

Posted on by Edward Lott

 | I’m writing this on the last day in October when I’ve successfully wrapped a month-long, five-city marathon of eDiscovery speaking, judging, interviewing and yes, even some dancing. It’s been a long month, and I’ll be happy to trick-or-treat with my kids tonight and know I don’t have to get back on a plane for a couple of weeks.

Along the way, I’ve met many more of you — thank you for saying hi and telling me you read this column — and I’ve gotten to hear your stories. And I learned A LOT.  Here are some random notes from the road. And just a tip, if the story sounds like you, it probably is you. Don’t worry — I left your name out.

You are innovating the hell out of legal technology and I LOVE it. Before starting off on my October travels, I had the opportunity to judge the Innovations Awards for Relativity Fest and I was blown away at the entries. Only a few became finalists, but the problem-solving using technology was brilliant. It gave me hope that we can move our dinosaur-like profession into the 21st century before it is over. Well done, you innovators, and keep it up. The world needs you.

Others of you are innovating in other ways — using low-cost or free resources to solve the problem of using data effectively for your client’s matters. I just left NeLI (the National eDiscovery Leadership Institute) where one attendee told me he was using a piece of free software to review social media data until Firefox got updated and the solution is no longer compatible. Maybe you should adapt it for the upgraded version and send it to the rest of us? Keep it up.

And then there are those of you who are working to make better lives for people by using technology built for eDiscovery to provide better access to justice. More on that soon — you’re going to want to get involved with this project, I can tell you. And the story of that new lawyer will remind you of you when you graduated from law school with the thought that you could change the world. You still can.

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You are constantly learning. This may not sound like much, but the pressure to be at your desk grinding away, billing hours, and just getting your existing work done is tremendous. We all have it. And yet you’ve come out in Vail, Denver, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Kansas City to events this month to learn and talk with me and other folks about how to do things better. And you’ve given me new ideas about how to do my job better. If you’re reading this and you aren’t out there learning, get out of your office, my friend. There’s a big world out there waiting for you, but you’ve got to get out. We’d love to see you.

Social media is still a cluster. If we have tools to preserve it, we don’t have good tools to present it. The interactive nature of the platforms make the use and presentation of them challenging at best for litigation. Anyone working on something to solve this?  Message me. And the law isn’t up to date on what’s happening with these platforms at lightning speed. Just like with the SCA, we need better guidance on social media law.

Mobile device imaging and presentation still seems harder than it should be. Message me if you’ve got something good going on this. You’ll have to wow me though — I’ve seen boring reports and they are just that.

The practice of law has to be run like a business. In D.C., we heard an amazing speech from Mark Smolik, GC of Supply Chain for DHL and a renowned public speaker. Mark broke down in stark detail the reality facing legal departments and how they think in terms of the dollars that have to be made in sales to run a legal department. Mark and his colleagues want partners on the legal side, in the same way that the business wants partners. You need to re-thirnk the delivery of legal services, and part of that is eDiscovery related costs. Mark also encouraged picking up the phone to call instead of passive forms of communication. Make yourself do it.

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Know your audience. You’ve heard this a thousand times, but I want you to think about it in terms of every communication you make every day. Do you talk to your partner at work and your child at home in the same way? Of course not. So why do you talk the same way to your partner and your litigation support manager?  They have different perspectives and they respond to different cues. Figure out what those are. Talk to people in the way that they understand. Don’t be arrogant enough to assume they need to hear the same thing you do.

Build relationships. I go to almost every event by myself, but I’m never alone for long. (That sounds weird, but you know what I mean.) I love to meet people. This month I found new and old friends to watch baseball with in Vail, D.C., and Kansas City (yes, there’s been A LOT of baseball and holy crap, that Game 5 was the best game I’ve ever seen), to dance with at the Museum of Science and Industry, and to have company to all the airports I seem to find myself in every week. Thanks to each of you. Use every opportunity to forge relationships. You don’t need a goal — the goal is just to meet people, learn about someone other than yourself and those you usually hang out with, and have new experiences. People are what make people happy — go and meet some new ones. You never know what those relationships can evolve into later in life.

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eDiscovery is constantly morphing with new technology to be deciphered and trying to innovate in new ways to make the process better, cheaper and faster. If you’re working on something, let me know. In the meantime, I’ll look forward to seeing you on my next road trip.

Kelly Twigger | Kelly Twigger gave up the golden handcuffs of her Biglaw partnership to start ESI Attorneys, an eDiscovery and information law Firm, in 2009. She is passionate about teaching lawyers and legal professionals how to think about and use ESI to win, and does so regularly for her clients. The Wisconsin State Bar named Kelly a Legal Innovator in 2014 for her development of eDiscovery Assistant— an online research and eDiscovery playbook for lawyers and legal professionals. When she’s not thinking, writing or talking about ESI, Kelly is wandering in the mountains of Colorado, or watching Kentucky basketball. You can reach her by email at or on Twitter: @kellytwigger.

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