By Brendan Reidy, Senior Associate at Behlau Murakami Grant
In traditional legal practice, early career lawyers often find themselves confronted with the formidable challenge of overseeing extensive disclosure projects which can span months or even years - a daunting undertaking that can (quite understandably) prove overwhelming for those in the initial phases of their legal career.
The good news? The game-changing solution lies in the world of eDiscovery platforms, offering a transformative opportunity to maximise efficiency and precision in the disclosure process. For the tech-savvy early career lawyer, this is more than just a step forward – it's a chance to shine in a digital era perfectly suited for our generation.
The Tech-Proficient Generation
Today's early career lawyers have grown up in a digital age, seamlessly integrating technology into their lives. This proficiency, coupled with freshly acquired legal knowledge, positions us to revolutionise the traditionally overwhelming task of disclosure projects. The synergy of technological know-how and legal acumen places early career lawyers at the forefront of managing complex cases with confidence.
For those unfamiliar, eDiscovery platforms act as third-party host for client documents, enabling targeted searches to identify relevant information swiftly. While the hosting concept is reasonably straightforward, the execution of varying search processes and associated search strategies is a little more complex, at least initially. However, the potential benefits with eDiscovery platforms make the learning curve worthwhile.
Efficient eDiscovery begins with clearly identifying key terms and understanding the core allegations which actually remain in issue in the proceedings.
From there, you will be able to narrow the scope of potentially relevant documents by using targeted searches using timeframes and key words that will reduce the number of relevant documents identified by your search.
For example, if you are looking for a specific email sent by John Smith on 5 April 2003, you simply filter all documents by those authored by John Smith, add a second filter for documents dated 5 April 2003, and you will be shown a page of all documents authored by John Smith on 5 April 2003. If there are too many documents showing results for that search, you can narrow the results further by including key words as search terms, such as “contract terms” or “sales figures” so that you can find the specific email that you are after. Sounds a lot easier than trawling through the thousands of emails that your client has dumped on you, doesn’t it?
When to use eDiscovery
Primarily beneficial for larger-scale disclosure projects, eDiscovery proves its worth in preparing initial and ongoing disclosure; ensuring compliance with document management protocols; document production via public examinations; and, responding statutory requests issued by regulators such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
While smaller matters may not warrant the associated costs, for significant cases, eDiscovery platforms streamline the production of documents, making the traditionally tedious disclosure process more manageable.
Maximizing the Early Career Lawyer's Potential
As an early career lawyer, embracing eDiscovery is an opportunity to showcase leadership and prowess. The technological leaps made during the course of our training provide a solid foundation to combine our research skills with legal expertise. Embracing eDiscovery isn't just adopting technology; it's a strategic move that can significantly impact success. Challenges may arise, but they represent opportunities to set oneself apart, impress colleagues, and most importantly, deliver exceptional results for clients.
In a legal landscape inundated with information, early career lawyers armed with eDiscovery platforms possess a formidable advantage. By leveraging technology, we not only streamline complex processes but also position ourselves as trailblazers in a profession undergoing a digital revolution.
So, for the early career lawyers out there, seize the opportunity, embrace eDiscovery, and pave the way for a future where efficiency and precision define success in the legal profession.