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Legal Project Management: Thoughts, tips, and discoveries related to the management of legal projects.

LPM Career Advice: Getting Back in the Game

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I was recently asked a great LPM-career question and thought I would post it, and my answer, here. Feel free to add to or counter my advice in the comments section. The question is:

I have over 20 years of experience in the legal arena on both the vendor and client side. I have been out of the market for about two years and will be returning.

How do I quickly come up to speed on the technology side? Most of my experience has been client facing (which I enjoy the most) and some project management. I prefer to delegate the tech part and remain more client facing on my next position. 

The questioner holds a PMP, a paralegal certificate, and a B.S. in Business Management. She has significant e-discovery experience in both sales and project management, and has numerous references from prior managers on her Linked In profile. Based upon her prior employment, I'm going to assume that she is looking into electronic-discovery positions. 

Her question shows an understanding of the e-discovery field and that keeping up with technology is important to this aspect of legal work. Even if one is not directly involved in "pulling the levers," an understanding of current technologies is crucial for effective delegation, oversight, and communication on e-discovery projects.  Therefore, my first bit of advice is that you should indeed make an effort to get up to speed on e-discovery technology, even if you intend to delegate the tech part

You should also endeavor to get up to speed with recent developments in e-discovery law. Read the legal opinions, news, and commentary about recent cases that have addressed e-discovery issues. Understanding the larger the context of e-discovery helps understand why things need to be done a certain way, which you should be able to communicate with your team. 

Two years is a long time to be out of the game. E-discovery law and technology have been developing faster than the alien organisms the movie Evolution. It is hard enough to keep up when its your full-time job.  If you've been completely out of the game for two years, you have your work cut out for you. That said, given your already extensive experience, the learning curve should not be too high. Below, I list a number of tips and resources that should help you get up to speed. Even though you specifically ask how to get up to date on the technology side, I mix tech and law resources, because I don't know how to separate them when it comes to e-discovery. Any legal treatise, casebook, or blog on e-discovery will contain a lot of technical information. Any tech-oriented e-discovery resource will discuss a lot of law. The two are intertwined. 


STRUCTURED LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

Consider taking courses or even going for an e-discovery certification. This is expensive, and may not be an option for you unless your employer pays for it, but it provides a quick path to getting up to date on current law, technologies, and best practices. There are both vendor-offered and vendor-neutral options:


SELF-STUDY SUGGESTIONS

  • For getting up to speed on e-discovery law read Ralph Losey. His books and, for timely yet thoughtful commentary, his E-discovery Team blog.

  • The Electronic Discovery Reading Room, a companion site to The Posse List (discussed below) is a must-visit site for boning up on current e-discovery technology trends. 

  • Check out the wealth of free material on Fios Inc.'s E-discovery Knowledge Center. Check out their recent webinars covering technology trends and recent caselaw. Keep in mind that the purpose of this site, as great as it is, is to help market the vendor's services. So don't expect a full hearing for technologies that compete with Fios's.

  • Greg Buckles of Reason-eD, LLC maintains an E-discovery Application Matrix, which allows you to compare a large number e-discovery technologies by various features. It is a good place to browse technologies so you can look up and learn more about those you are unfamiliar with. See also the E-Discovery Journal's "Buyers Guide" to e-discovery solutions, which links to the E-discovery Application Matrix. Reading over this guide is a good way to familiarize your self with the various e-discovery tech options and the major players in e-discovery technology.

  • I highly recommend visiting the Web sites of the major e-discovery software providers and reading up on their solutions. If possible, arrange demos. That might prove difficult if you are currently unemployed as many vendors may not want to give demos if you are not a potential buyer and most do not have flash or video presentations demonstrating their tools' feature sets. Some vendors will have periodic web casts providing demonstrations of, and free training for, their tools.


RESOURCES FOR KEEPING ON TOP OF E-DISCOVERY


E-DISCOVERY PROJECT MANAGEMENT RESOURCES

Since you are interested in focusing on e-discovery project management, you might also be interested in the following resources.

  • The Project Management Institute's Legal Project Management Community of Practice will launch on September 27th. If you are a member of PMI, you will have access to this community via the Communities page after September 27th.

  • Steve Levy's Legal Project Management book should be on the e-discovery project manager's bookshelf.

  • In addition to this blog, I highly recommend Steve Levy's Lexician blog.

If any readers have other tips and resources to recommend, please post them in the comments.


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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Paul C. Easton published on September 21, 2010 10:00 PM.

ACEDS E-discovery Certification Will Test Project Management was the previous entry in this blog.

LPM Tidbits for Week Ending 9/25/2010 is the next entry in this blog.

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